Canada isn’t being innovative enough, and that’s costing the country its ranking on a global measure of competitiveness.
The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s competitiveness ranking for 2014 places Canada in 15th place, down one from last year. As recently as 2009, Canada had been in ninth place.
Compare that to the U.S., which as recently as 2012 ranked seventh, but this year took third place. Switzerland and Singapore retained their positions as the first and second most competitive economies, respectively.
The ranking measures countries according to 12 “pillars,” including the strength of its institutions, education, innovation and business sophistication.
Canada saw some of its lowest scores in the innovation category. It placed 27th on research and development and 52nd on foreign investment, out of 144 countries measured.
WEF chief economist Jennifer Blanke said Canada has strong foundations for a competitive economy -- it has solid institutions, well developed childhood education and a stable political environment. But it’s in the more sophisticated areas where the country falls behind many of its developed peers.
“Canada really gets the basics right. That’s not to be taken lightly, because a lot of countries don’t,” Blanke said, as quoted at the Globe and Mail. “But in the more complex issues, that’s where Canada is struggling.”
“Canada must improve its overall competitiveness performance so that we can sustain our high quality of life and create opportunities for future generations," Daniel Muzyka, president and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada, which had partnered with the WEF in the competitiveness study.
"Failure to do so will put pressure on our standard of living and the things that we, as Canadians, cherish, including our health care, education, and social security systems."
Check out the world's 20 most competitive economies, according to the WEF: