Closing the prosperity gap

When it comes to closing the prosperity gap, Ontario isn't doing enough.

Ontarians need shared determination to close the prosperity gap, according to The Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress' fifth annual report, Agenda for our prosperity, released today at the Canadian Business Outlook 2007 conference. In his keynote address, Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management and Chairman of the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity said, “We have chosen to be less prosperous and that's costing us big time.”

When it comes to making these changes, Martin says, “There's no silver bullet.” It will take a shift in Ontarians' attitudes, investment patterns, motivations to do business and market and governance structures.

In the 1980s Ontario's per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ranked close to the median of the 16 most populous North American jurisdictions consisting of 16 U.S. states and Ontario and Quebec. It now stands second to last.

Martin says, “If party platforms over the past few elections are any guide to public attitudes, it's clear that issues related to our competitiveness, productivity, and prosperity are not seen as centrally important to the public. We need to raise the volume of these issues.”

In a video interview to appear on Canadian Business Online in the coming days, Mr. Martin speaks frankly about the reasons for the large prosperity gap between the U.S. and Canada, why the GST cut was a bad idea and how we as individuals can help make Canada more competitive.

“Closing this prosperity gap would have real benefits for Ontario families,” says Martin. “On average, each family would gain $8,400 in disposable, after tax income — every year. Governments would generate an additional $26 billion in revenue, a significant amount when compared to annual spending of $38 billion on health care and $31 billion on education in the province. And closing this gap is not an unrealistic aspiration. As recently as 20 years ago, we were in the upper half of our peer group.”

Click here to download a PDF of the full report.