This article originally appeared in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article.
By Jack Mintz, November 15, 2023
One of my favourite poems is Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” It describes a ship driven by storms towards the South Pole. An albatross saves the ship and crew but the Ancient Mariner kills it, an act of cruelty for which he is later punished, including by having to repeat the story to strangers for the rest of his life.
It is the verse “Day after day, day after day,/ We stuck, nor breath nor motion;/ As idle as a painted ship/ Upon a painted ocean” that became one of my favourites. It comes back to me periodically when life seems stalled.
Which is the case with Canada these days. Our economy is at a standstill. Interest rates are up and inflation, though trending down, remains stubbornly high. Real GDP growth these past four quarters (August 2022 to August 2023) was a feeble 0.9 per cent. Any growth we do have is from a policy-driven population expansion of close to three per cent. But per capita GDP actually fell 2.1 per cent over that period, which means Canadians are poorer today than they were a year ago.
And it’s not just this year. Canada has been a “painted ship on a painted ocean” for some time. From January 2018 to June of this year, our GDP per capita was flat, according to OECD data released this week. Add in July and August and Canada’s per capita real GDP has declined slightly — from $52,300 in January 2018 to $51,900 in August (in 2012 dollars).