Canada not 'kinder, gentler nation' it claims to be: Report

A man runs past a foggy Parliament Hill in Ottawa Feb 1, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

A man runs past a foggy Parliament Hill in Ottawa Feb 1, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

When it comes to equality, poverty, safety and social engagement, Canada's not all it's cut out to be, according to a new report.

In fact, the Conference Board of Canada, a major economic and public policy think-tank, ranked Canada 7th out of 17 developed countries on its society report card, giving it a B for its approach to problems like income inequality, child poverty and gender equity.

"Our middle-of-the-pack ranking means we are not living up to our reputation or potential," reads the report.

A big black mark against Canada is poverty.

"Many Canadians seem to regard poverty as something that is an issue 'over there' rather than in their own country," reads the report, noting that over the last decade, child poverty rose from 12.8% to 15.1%, working-age poverty from 9.4% to 11.1% and elderly poverty from 2.9% to 6.7%.

On poverty specifically, the report gives Canada a D.

"The self-image of Canada as kinder and gentler is based largely on a narrow Canada-U.S. comparison. Yes, Canada's social safety net results in lower rates of child and elderly poverty and income inequality, along with higher rates of self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations than in the United States," reads the report.

"But many Canadians would be surprised to learn that the U.S. burglary rate and suicide rate are not much higher than those in Canada, and that the gender income gap is the same in the two countries."

However, the report does give Canada kudos on a few issues. In Canada, for example, poverty and wealth aren't always passed down through the generations. About 19% of a family's disadvantage is passed on to the children -- lower than most countries.

"This means, for example, that if a family earns $10,000 less income than the average, the children will earn $1,900 less than the average. For a family in the U.S., the children would earn $4,700 less; in the U.K., the children would earn $5,000 less."

What's more, Canadians are more accepting, tolerant and generally satisfied with life than people in many other developed countries.

"Canada is a top-performing country on the acceptance of diversity indicator and comes close on the indicator measuring life satisfaction," reads the report.

Canada placed seventh in the report, behind Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria. It's followed by Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Australia, the U.K., Italy, Japan and the U.S.


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