Canada may have led G7 countries in economic growth last year, but we’ve slipped in rank on the World Economic Forum’s Inclusive Development Index. The index combines GDP growth with other measures such as life expectancy, poverty rates and a country’s carbon footprint. Canada dropped to 17th place among advanced economies in the 2018 report, down from 15th place in 2017. Norway, Iceland and other Nordic countries dominate the top spots in this index.

Canada also ranks relatively low, at 22 out of 32 countries, on a new Economic Democracy Index prepared by Britain’s New Economics Foundation in partnership with several UK universities. The index measures and compares democratic participation, the rights of workers, and economic rights across different countries. Higher scores are associated with both greater equality and productivity.

Canada is well below the Nordic and European countries that dominate top places on the list.

Iceland outlaws pay discrimination

Iceland now requires employers to prove they provide equal pay, and makes it illegal for employers to pay women less than men, punishable by fines of $500 a day. Employers with more than 25 employees will be required to get equal pay certification to prove they provide equal pay. Even though Iceland has ranked best in the world for gender equality for the past nine years and almost 50 per cent of its parliamentarians are women, gender pay gaps have persisted. The government is hoping these additional measures have a stronger impact. Iceland has committed to eliminate the pay gap in four years, by 2022.

Privatization of Hydro bad for Ontario’s finances

Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office recently revealed that the province’s privatization of 53 per cent of Hydro One will worsen the provincial deficit by $1.1 billion in 2018/19 and will ultimately cost the province $1.8 billion more than if it had retained ownership of Hydro One and financed infrastructure work publicly. The Ontario Liberal government sold off parts of the public utility to reduce their short-term deficit, arguing that the proceeds of the sale would finance infrastructure. But the Liberals also knew the move would be worse for the province’s finances over the longer term. CUPE Ontario led the fight to keep Hydro public, and is continuing to resist the privatization through legal action against its sale.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to bring the Royal Mail, railways, water and energy utilities that have been sold off, back under public ownership and control, following decades of privatization disasters. They also plan to take back ownership and control of the British P3 program, known as PFI or private finance initiative.