Actually, Canada’s Commitment to Social Programs Kind of Sucks

We Canadians love to be uppity about our healthcare system. Especially when it comes to bragging rights in the face of our neighbours to the South.

What may come as a major shock to your patriotic health, however, is that the United States actually spends more public money on its healthcare system than we do. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Canada commits only 7.4 per cent of public money to healthcare. The U.S., by contrasts, spends 8.3 per cent of GDP.

If healthcare is something we’re supposed to be #winning, how do we fare in other categories? Pretty bad, actually. In fact, Canada now spends less than a significant majority of other industrialized nations on social programs.

In Canada, these include Social Assistance, the Canada Child Tax Benefit, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, Employment Insurance, the Canada and Quebec Pension Plan, Workers’ Compensation, public education, medicare, social housing and social services.

It’s not that we’ve gotten worse, it’s that other countries have caught up while Canada has remained stagnant since… wow, since the Berlin Wall fell:

Source: OECD

As the Canadian Medical Association Journal summarizes, Canada has “systematically under-invested in social programs over the past three decades.” That’s not good for a country with a liberal reputation and conservative pressure to cut spending.

Of all 35 industrialized countries, Canada ranks 8th from the bottom in social spending – 4 per cent below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average. If there’s a silver lining in this for Justin Trudeau, it’s that he can use the data to kill one of his Conservative opponents’ major criticisms.