When it comes to governments in this country, agreeing to disagree is about as Canadian as maple syrup and hockey.
The latest bickering revolves around an issue that is certain to gain attention in the years ahead: How can we adequately prepare ourselves for financial retirement?
Most of the quarrelling focuses on what to do (or not do) with the Canada Pension Plan. And while there’s more disagreement than consensus, a key piece of logic is missing from the discussion.
Economists love to poke their noses into subject matters they know nothing about. But in defence of economists, there’s usually an economic angle to the debate. So in the time-honoured spirit of intrusion, it’s necessary to weigh in on two news items this week that have enormous implications for the labour market – and the economy – of the future.
The first is the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment, which showed Canada’s 15-year-olds have slipped in the global rankings in math competency. Falling behind countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Switzerland, Estonia and Finland, Canadian scores have dropped 14 points in nine years. Math students in Shanghai performed at the highest level. (Although as Jeff Johnson, chair of the Council of Ministers of Education Canada, correctly pointed out, there is a social equity issue as well. Canada may fall behind Shanghai, but our students still have a better chance of success regardless of socioeconomic background.)