Economy of Canada

Japan Bank of Canada United States

Economy of Canada
Toronto (15085972212).jpg
Toronto, the financial centre of Canada
CurrencyCanadian dollar (CAD, C$)
April 1 – March 29
Trade organizations
CPTPP, NAFTA, OECD, WTO and others
Country group
PopulationIncrease 37,797,496 (Q3, 2019)[3]
  • Increase $1.741 trillion (nominal, 2019 est.)[4]
  • Increase $1.904 trillion (PPP, 2019)[5]
GDP rank
GDP growth
  • 2.0% (2018) 1.7% (2019)
  • −8.4% (2020e) 4.9% (2021e)[6]
GDP per capita
  • Decrease $46,213 (nominal, 2019 est.)[4]
  • Increase $50,725 (PPP, 2019 est.)[4]
GDP per capita rank
GDP by sector
0.6% (2020 est.)[5]
Population below poverty line
9.4% (2008 est.)[7][note 1]
Negative increase 31.0 medium (2017)[8]
Labour force
  • Increase 20.1 million (August 2020)[11]
  • Increase 58.0% employment rate (August 2020)[11]
  • Positive decrease 10.2% (August 2020)[11]
  • Positive decrease 23.1% youth unemployment (August 2020; 15 to 24 year-olds)[12]
  • Positive decrease 2.0 million unemployed (August 2020)[11]
Average gross salary
$1,042 weekly (September 2019)[13]
Main industries
Decrease 23rd (very easy, 2020)[14]
ExportsIncrease $585 billion (2018)[15]
Export goods
motor vehicles and parts, industrial machinery, aircraft, telecommunications equipment; chemicals, plastics, fertilizers; wood pulp, timber, crude petroleum, natural gas, electricity, aluminum
Main export partners
ImportsIncrease $607 billion (2018)[15]
Import goods
machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and parts, crude oil, chemicals, electricity, durable consumer goods
Main import partners
FDI stock
  • Increase $1.045 trillion (December 31, 2017 est.)[17]
  • Increase Abroad: $1.366 trillion (December 31, 2017 est.)[17]
$−17.3 billion (Q1 2019)[18]
$1.791 trillion (March 31, 2017)[19]
Public finances
Positive decrease 89.7% of GDP (2017 est.)[7][note 2]
−1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)[7]
Revenues649.6 billion (2017 est.)[7]
Expenses665.7 billion (2017 est.)[7]
Economic aiddonor: ODA, $3.96 billion (2016)[20]
  • AAA
  • Outlook: Stable
  • AAA
  • Outlook: Stable
  • AA+
  • Outlook: Stable
Foreign reserves
$86.3 billion (June 2019)[24][25]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

The economy of Canada is a highly developed market economy.[26] It is the 10th largest GDP by nominal and 16th largest GDP by PPP in the world. As with other developed nations, the country's economy is dominated by the service industry which employs about three quarters of Canadians.[27] Canada has the third highest total estimated value of natural resources, valued at US$33.2 trillion in 2019.[28] It has the world's third largest proven petroleum reserves and is the fourth largest exporter of petroleum. It is also the fourth largest exporter of natural gas. Canada is considered an "energy superpower" due to its abundant natural resources and a small population of 37 million inhabitants relative to its land area.[29][30][31]

According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Canada is one of the least corrupt countries in the world,[32] and is one of the world's top ten trading nations, with a highly globalized economy.[33][34] Canada historically ranks above the U.S. and most western European nations on The Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedom,[35] and experiencing a relatively low level of income disparity.[36] The country's average household disposable income per capita is "well above" the OECD average.[37] The Toronto Stock Exchange is the ninth-largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization, listing over 1,500 companies with a combined market capitalization of over US$2 trillion.[38]

In 2018, Canadian trade in goods and services reached CA$1.5 trillion.[15] Canada's exports totalled over CA$585 billion, while its imported goods were worth over CA$607 billion, of which approximately CA$391 billion originated from the United States, CA$216 billion from non-U.S. sources.[15] In 2018, Canada had a trade deficit in goods of CA$22 billion and a trade deficit in services of CA$25 billion.[15]

Canada is unusual among developed countries in the importance of the primary sector, with the logging and oil industries being two of Canada's most important. Canada also has a sizable manufacturing sector, based in Central Canada, with the automobile industry and aircraft industry being especially important. With the world's longest coastline, Canada has the 8th largest commercial fishing and seafood industry in the world.[39][40] Canada is one of the global leaders of the entertainment software industry.[41] It is a member of the APEC, G7, G20, OECD and WTO, and was formerly a member of NAFTA until the USMCA came into force in 2020.


With the exception of a few island nations in the Caribbean, Canada is the only major parliamentary system in North America. As a result, Canada has developed its own social and political institutions, distinct from most other countries in the world.[42] Though the Canadian economy is closely integrated with the American economy, it has developed unique economic institutions.

The Canadian economic system generally combines elements of private enterprise and public enterprise. Many aspects of public enterprise, most notably the development of an extensive social welfare system to redress social and economic inequities, were adopted after the end of World War II in 1945.[42]

Canada has a private to public (Crown) property ratio of 60:40 and one of the highest levels of economic freedom in the world. Today Canada closely resembles the U.S. in its market-oriented economic system and pattern of production.[43] As of 2019, Canada has 56 companies in the Forbes Global 2000 list, ranking ninth just behind South Korea and ahead of Saudi Arabia.[44]

Chart of exports of Canada by value with percentages
Tree-map of Canada's goods exports in 2017

International trade makes up a large part of the Canadian economy, particularly of its natural resources. In 2009, agriculture, energy, forestry and mining exports accounted for about 58% of Canada's total exports.[45] Machinery, equipment, automotive products and other manufactures accounted for a further 38% of exports in 2009.[45] In 2009, exports accounted for about 30% of Canada's GDP. The United States is by far its largest trading partner, accounting for about 73% of exports and 63% of imports as of 2009.[46] Canada's combined exports and imports ranked 8th among all nations in 2006.[47]

About 4% of Canadians are directly employed in primary resource fields, and they account for 6.2% of GDP.[48] They are still paramount in many parts of the country. Many, if not most, towns in northern Canada, where agriculture is difficult, exist because of a nearby mine or source of timber. Canada is a world leader in the production of many natural resources such as gold, nickel, uranium, diamonds, lead, and in recent years, crude petroleum, which, with the world's second-largest oil reserves, is taking an increasingly prominent position in natural resources extraction. Several of Canada's largest companies are based in natural resource industries, such as Encana, Cameco, Goldcorp, and Barrick Gold. The vast majority of these products are exported, mainly to the United States. There are also many secondary and service industries that are directly linked to primary ones. For instance one of Canada's largest manufacturing industries is the pulp and paper sector, which is directly linked to the logging business.

The reliance on natural resources has several effects on the Canadian economy and Canadian society. While manufacturing and service industries are easy to standardize, natural resources vary greatly by region. This ensures that differing economic structures developed in each region of Canada, contributing to Canada's strong regionalism. At the same time the vast majority of these resources are exported, integrating Canada closely into the international economy. Howlett and Ramesh argue that the inherent instability of such industries also contributes to greater government intervention in the economy, to reduce the social impact of market changes.[49]

Natural resource industries also raise important questions of sustainability. Despite many decades as a leading producer, there is little risk of depletion. Large discoveries continue to be made, such as the massive nickel find at Voisey's Bay. Moreover, the far north remains largely undeveloped as producers await higher prices or new technologies as many operations in this region are not yet cost effective. In recent decades Canadians have become less willing to accept the environmental destruction associated with exploiting natural resources. High wages and Aboriginal land claims have also curbed expansion. Instead many Canadian companies have focused their exploration, exploitation and expansion activities overseas where prices are lower and governments more amenable. Canadian companies are increasingly playing important roles in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

The depletion of renewable resources has raised concerns in recent years. After decades of escalating overutilization the cod fishery all but collapsed in the 1990s, and the Pacific salmon industry also suffered greatly. The logging industry, after many years of activism, has in recent years moved to a more sustainable model, or to other countries.


The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2018. Inflation under 2 % is in green.[50]

Year GDP
(in bn. US$ PPP)
GDP per capita
(in US$ PPP)
GDP growth
Inflation rate
(in Percent)
(in Percent)
Government debt
(in % of GDP)
1980 287.3 11,739 Increase2.1 % Negative increase10.2 % 7.5 % 45.1 %
1981 Increase325.1 Increase13,116 Increase3.5 % Negative increase12.5 % Negative increase7.6 % Negative increase46.6 %
1982 Increase334.2 Increase13,323 Decrease−3.2 % Negative increase10.8 % Negative increase11.1 % Negative increase52.3 %
1983 Increase356.4 Increase14,067 Increase2.6 % Negative increase5.8 % Negative increase12.0 % Negative increase57.8 %
1984 Increase390.9 Increase15,284 Increase5.9 % Negative increase4.3 % Positive decrease11.4 % Negative increase60.9 %
1985 Increase422.5 Increase16,369 Increase4.7 % Negative increase4.0 % Positive decrease10.5 % Negative increase65.9 %
1986 Increase440.4 Increase16,894 Increase2.2 % Negative increase4.2 % Positive decrease9.6 % Negative increase70.1 %
1987 Increase470.1 Increase17,809 Increase4.1 % Negative increase4.4 % Positive decrease8.8 % Negative increase70.5 %
1988 Increase508.1 Increase18,994 Increase4.4 % Negative increase4.0 % Positive decrease7.8 % Steady70.5 %
1989 Increase540.2 Increase19,848 Increase2.3 % Negative increase7.5 % Positive decrease5.3 % Negative increase71.8 %
1990 Increase561.0 Increase20,302 Increase0.2 % Negative increase4.8 % Negative increase8.2 % Negative increase74.5 %
1991 Increase567.3 Decrease20,271 Decrease−2.1 % Negative increase5.6 % Negative increase10.3 % Negative increase81.5 %
1992 Increase585.4 Increase20,668 Increase0.9 % Increase1.5 % Negative increase11.2 % Negative increase89.2 %
1993 Increase615.2 Increase21,473 Increase2.7 % Increase1.9 % Negative increase11.4 % Negative increase95.0 %
1994 Increase656.6 Increase22,672 Increase4.5 % Increase0.1 % Positive decrease10.4 % Negative increase97.8 %
1995 Increase688.2 Increase23,518 Increase2.7 % Negative increase2.2 % Positive decrease9.5 % Negative increase100.4 %
1996 Increase712.1 Increase24,081 Increase1.6 % Increase1.6 % Negative increase9.6 % Negative increase100.6 %
1997 Increase755.3 Increase25,287 Increase4.3 % Increase1.6 % Positive decrease9.1 % Positive decrease95.6 %
1998 Increase793.1 Increase26,328 Increase3.9 % Increase1.0 % Positive decrease8.3 % Positive decrease93.6 %
1999 Increase846.8 Increase27,885 Increase5.2 % Increase1.7 % Positive decrease7.6 % Positive decrease89.3 %
2000 Increase910.9 Increase29,723 Increase5.2 % Negative increase2.7 % Positive decrease6.8 % Positive decrease80.7 %
2001 Increase948.2 Increase30,615 Increase1.8 % Negative increase2.5 % Negative increase7.2 % Negative increase81.8 %
2002 Increase991.7 Increase31,676 Increase3.0 % Negative increase2.3 % Negative increase7.7 % Positive decrease79.9 %
2003 Increase1,029.7 Increase32,585 Increase1.8 % Negative increase2.7 % Positive decrease7.6 % Positive decrease76.2 %
2004 Increase1,090.7 Increase34,193 Increase3.1 % Increase1.8 % Positive decrease7.2 % Positive decrease72.1 %
2005 Increase1,161.8 Increase36,080 Increase3.2 % Negative increase2.2 % Positive decrease6.8 % Positive decrease70.9 %
2006 Increase1,229.0 Increase37,781 Increase2.6 % Increase2.0 % Positive decrease6.3 % Positive decrease70.1 %
2007 Increase1,287.7 Increase39,201 Increase2.1 % Negative increase2.1 % Positive decrease6.0 % Positive decrease66.8 %
2008 Increase1,326.1 Increase39,944 Increase1.0 % Negative increase2.4 % Negative increase6.2 % Negative increase67.8 %
2009 Decrease1,296.7 Decrease38,615 Decrease−3.0 % Increase0.1 % Negative increase8.4 % Negative increase79.3 %
2010 Increase1,353.1 Increase39,844 Increase3.1 % Increase1.8 % Positive decrease8.0 % Negative increase81.1 %
2011 Increase1,424.3 Increase41,524 Increase3.1 % Negative increase3.1 % Positive decrease7.5 % Negative increase81.9 %
2012 Increase1,475.9 Increase42,537 Increase1.7 % Increase1.5 % Negative increase8.1 % Negative increase85.5 %
2013 Increase1,536.8 Increase43,787 Increase2.3 % Increase0.9 % Positive decrease7.1 % Negative increase86.2 %
2014 Increase1,609.1 Increase45,345 Increase2.9 % Increase1.9 % Positive decrease6.9 % Positive decrease85.7 %
2015 Increase1,642.8 Increase45,884 Increase0.7 % Increase1.1 % Steady6.9 % Negative increase91.3 %
2016 Increase1,678.9 Increase46,569 Increase1.1 % Increase1.4 % Negative increase7.0 % Negative increase91.8 %
2017 Increase1,761.4 Increase48,273 Increase3.0 % Negative increase2.1 % Positive decrease6.3 % Positive decrease90.1 %
2018[51] Increase1,838.3 Increase49,690 Increase1.9 % Negative increase2.2 % Positive decrease5.8 % Positive decrease89.9 %

Unemployment rate

Province Unemployment rate
percentage of labour force
as of March 2020[52]
Alberta Alberta 8.7
British Columbia British Columbia 7.2
Manitoba Manitoba 6.4
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador 11.7
New Brunswick New Brunswick 8.8
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia 9.0
Ontario Ontario 7.6
Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island 8.6
Quebec Quebec 8.1
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan 7.3
Canada Canada (national) 7.8

Export trade

Export trade from Canada measured in US dollars. In 2018, Canada exported over US$450 billion.[53]

Partner Value Fraction
United States $338.2 billion 75.0%
China $21.3 billion 4.7%
United Kingdom $12.6 billion 2.8%
Japan $10.0 billion 2.2%
Mexico $6.3 billion 1.4%
South Korea $4.5 billion 1.0%
Germany $3.7 billion 0.8%
Netherlands $3.7 billion 0.8%
India $3.3 billion 0.7%
Hong Kong $3.0 billion 0.7%
Belgium $2.9 billion 0.6%
France $2.7 billion 0.6%
Italy $2.3 billion 0.5%
Norway $1.9 billion 0.4%
Brazil $1.7 billion 0.4%

Import trade

Import trade in 2017 measured in US dollars.[54]

Partner Value Fraction
United States $222.0 billion 51.3%
China $54.7 billion 12.7%
Mexico $27.4 billion 6.3%
Germany $13.8 billion 3.2%
Japan $13.5 billion 3.1%
United Kingdom $6.9 billion 1.6%
South Korea $6.7 billion 1.5%
Italy $6.3 billion 1.5%
France $4.8 billion 1.1%
Vietnam $3.9 billion 0.9%

Measuring productivity

Productivity measures are key indicators of economic performance and a key source of economic growth and competitiveness. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s[notes 1] Compendium of Productivity Indicators,[55] published annually, presents a broad overview of productivity levels and growth in member nations, highlighting key measurement issues. It analyses the role of "productivity as the main driver of economic growth and convergence" and the "contributions of labour, capital and MFP in driving economic growth".[55] According to the definition above "MFP is often interpreted as the contribution to economic growth made by factors such as technical and organisational innovation" (OECD 2008,11). Measures of productivity include Gross Domestic Product (GDP)(OECD 2008,11) and multifactor productivity.

Multifactor productivity

Another productivity measure, used by the OECD, is the long-term trend in multifactor productivity (MFP) also known as total factor productivity (TFP). This indicator assesses an economy's "underlying productive capacity ('potential output'), itself an important measure of the growth possibilities of economies and of inflationary pressures". MFP measures the residual growth that cannot be explained by the rate of change in the services of labour, capital and intermediate outputs, and is often interpreted as the contribution to economic growth made by factors such as technical and organisational innovation. (OECD 2008,11)

According to the OECD's annual economic survey of Canada in June 2012, Canada has experienced weak growth of multi-factor productivity (MFP) and has been declining further since 2002. One of the ways MFP growth is raised is by boosting innovation and Canada's innovation indicators such as business R&D and patenting rates were poor. Raising MFP growth is "needed to sustain rising living standards, especially as the population ages".[56]

Bank of Canada

The mandate of the central bank—the Bank of Canada is to conduct monetary policy that "preserves the value of money by keeping inflation low and stable".[57][58]

Monetary Policy Report

The Bank of Canada issues its bank rate announcement through its Monetary Policy Report which is released eight times a year.[58] The Bank of Canada, a federal crown corporation, has the responsibility of Canada's monetary system.[59] Under the inflation-targeting monetary policy that has been the cornerstone of Canada's monetary and fiscal policy since the early 1990s, the Bank of Canada sets an inflation target[58][60] The inflation target was set at 2 per cent, which is the midpoint of an inflation range of 1 to 3 per cent. They established a set of inflation-reduction targets to keep inflation "low, stable and predictable" and to foster "confidence in the value of money", contribute to Canada's sustained growth, employment gains and improved standard of living.[58]

In a January 9, 2019 statement on the release of the Monetary Policy Report, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen S. Poloz summarized major events since the October report, such as "negative economic consequences" of the US-led trade war with China. In response to the ongoing trade war "bond yields have fallen, yield curves have flattened even more and stock markets have repriced significantly" in "global financial markets". In Canada, low oil prices will impact Canada's "macroeconomic outlook". Canada's housing sector is not stabilizing as quickly as anticipated.[61]

Inflation targeting

During the period that John Crow was Governor of the Bank of Canada—1987 to 1994— there was a worldwide recession and the bank rate rose to around 14% and unemployment topped 11%.[59] Although since that time inflation-targeting has been adopted by "most advanced-world central banks",[62] in 1991 it was innovative and Canada was an early adopter when the then-Finance Minister Michael Wilson approved the Bank of Canada's first inflation-targeting in the 1991 federal budget.[62] The inflation target was set at 2 per cent.[58] Inflation is measured by the total consumer price index (CPI). In 2011 the Government of Canada and the Bank of Canada extended Canada's inflation-control target to December 31, 2016.[58] The Bank of Canada uses three unconventional instruments to achieve the inflation target: "a conditional statement on the future path of the policy rate", quantitative easing, and credit easing.[63]

As a result, interest rates and inflation eventually came down along with the value of the Canadian dollar.[59] From 1991 to 2011 the inflation-targeting regime kept "price gains fairly reliable".[62]

Following the Financial crisis of 2007–08 the narrow focus of inflation-targeting as a means of providing stable growth in the Canadian economy was questioned. By 2011, the then-Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney argued that the central bank's mandate would allow for a more flexible inflation-targeting in specific situations where he would consider taking longer "than the typical six to eight quarters to return inflation to 2 per cent".[62]

On July 15, 2015, the Bank of Canada announced that it was lowering its target for the overnight rate by another one-quarter percentage point, to 0.5 per cent[64] "to try to stimulate an economy that appears to have failed to rebound meaningfully from the oil shock woes that dragged it into decline in the first quarter".[65] According to the Bank of Canada announcement, in the first quarter of 2015, the total Consumer price index (CPI) inflation was about 1 per cent. This reflects "year-over-year price declines for consumer energy products". Core inflation in the first quarter of 2015 was about 2 per cent with an underlying trend in inflation at about 1.5 to 1.7 per cent.[64]

In response to the Bank of Canada's July 15, 2015 rate adjustment, Prime Minister Stephen Harper explained that the economy was "being dragged down by forces beyond Canadian borders such as global oil prices, the European debt crisis, and China's economic slowdown" which has made the global economy "fragile".[66]

The Chinese stock market had lost about US$3 trillion of wealth by July 2015 when panicked investors sold stocks, which created declines in the commodities markets, which in turn negatively impacted resource-producing countries like Canada.[67]

The Bank's main priority has been to keep inflation at a moderate level.[68] As part of that strategy, interest rates were kept at a low level for almost seven years. Since September 2010, the key interest rate (overnight rate) was 0.5%. Since September 2010, the key interest rate (overnight rate) was 0.5%. In mid 2017, inflation remained below the Bank's 2% target, (at 1.6%)[69] mostly because of reductions in the cost of energy, food and automobiles; as well, the economy was in a continuing spurt with a predicted GDP growth of 2.8 percent by year end.[70][71] Early on July 12, 2017, the bank issued a statement that the benchmark rate would be increased to 0.75%.

Key industries

In 2017, the Canadian economy had the following relative weighting by industry, as percentage value of GDP:[72]

Industry Share of GDP
Real estate and rental and leasing 13.01%
Manufacturing 10.37%
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 8.21%
Finance and insurance 7.07%
Construction 7.07%
Health care and social assistance 6.63%
Public administration 6.28%
Wholesale trade 5.78%
Retail trade 5.60%
Professional, scientific and technical services 5.54%
Educational services 5.21%
Transportation and warehousing 4.60%
Information and cultural industries 3.00%
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services 2.46%
Utilities 2.21%
Accommodation and food services 2.15%
Other services (except public administration) 1.89%
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 1.53%
Arts, entertainment and recreation 0.77%
Management of companies and enterprises 0.62%

Service sector

The service sector in Canada is vast and multifaceted, employing about three quarters of Canadians and accounting for 70% of GDP.[73][73] The largest employer is the retail sector, employing almost 12% of Canadians.[74] The retail industry is concentrated mainly in a small number of chain stores clustered together in shopping malls. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of big-box stores, such as Wal-Mart (of the United States), Real Canadian Superstore, and Best Buy (of the United States). This has led to fewer workers in this sector and a migration of retail jobs to the suburbs.

The Financial District in Downtown Vancouver. Canadian business services are largely concentrated in large urban areas of Canada.

The second largest portion of the service sector is the business service and hire only a slightly smaller percentage of the population.[75] This includes the financial services, real estate, and communications industries. This portion of the economy has been rapidly growing in recent years. It is largely concentrated in the major urban centres, especially Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (see Banking in Canada).

The education and health sectors are two of Canada's largest, but both are largely under the influence of the government. The health care industry has been quickly growing, and is the third largest in Canada. Its rapid growth has led to problems for governments who must find money to fund it.

Canada has an important high tech industry, and a burgeoning film, television, and entertainment industry creating content for local and international consumption (see Media in Canada).[76] Tourism is of ever increasing importance, with the vast majority of international visitors coming from the United States. Casino gaming is currently the fastest-growing component of the Canadian tourism industry, contributing $5 billion in profits for Canadian governments and employing 41,000 Canadians as of 2001.[77]


Ford's Oakville Assembly in the Greater Toronto Area. Central Canada is home to several auto factories of the major American and Japanese automakers.

The general pattern of development for wealthy nations was a transition from a raw material production based economy to a manufacturing based one, and then to a service based economy. At its World War II peak in 1944, Canada's manufacturing sector accounted for 29% of GDP,[78] declining to 10.37% in 2017.[72] Canada has not suffered as greatly as most other rich, industrialized nations from the pains of the relative decline in the importance of manufacturing since the 1960s.[78] A 2009 study by Statistics Canada also found that, while manufacturing declined as a relative percentage of GDP from 24.3% in the 1960s to 15.6% in 2005, manufacturing volumes between 1961 and 2005 kept pace with the overall growth in the volume index of GDP.[79] Manufacturing in Canada was especially hit hard by the financial crisis of 2007–08. As of 2017, manufacturing accounts for 10% of Canada's GDP,[72] a relative decline of more than 5% of GDP since 2005.

Central Canada is home to branch plants to all the major American and Japanese automobile makers and many parts factories owned by Canadian firms such as Magna International and Linamar Corporation.


ArcelorMittal Dofasco, view from Burlington Street

Canada was the world's nineteenth-largest steel exporter in 2018. In year-to-date 2019 (through March), further referred to as YTD 2019, Canada exported 1.39 million metric tons of steel, a 22 percent decrease from 1.79 million metric tons in YTD 2018. Canada's exports represented about 1.5 percent of all steel exported globally in 2017, based on available data. By volume, Canada's 2018 steel exports represented just over one-tenth the volume of the world's largest exporter, China. In value terms, steel represented 1.4 percent of the total goods Canada exported in 2018. The growth in exports in the decade since 2009 has been 29%. The largest producers in 2018 were ArcelorMittal, Essar Steel Algoma, and the first of those alone accounted for roughly half of Canadian steel production through its two subsidiaries. The top two markets for Canada's exports were its NAFTA partners, and by themselves accounted for 92 percent of exports by volume. Canada sent 83 percent of its steel exports to the United States in YTD 2019. The gap between domestic demand and domestic production increased to -2.4 million metric tons, up from -0.2 million metric tons in YTD 2018. In YTD 2019, exports as a share of production decreased to 41.6 percent from 53 percent in YTD 2018.[80]

In 2017, heavy industry accounted for 10.2% of Canada's Greenhouse gas emissions.[81]


Canada has access to cheap sources of energy because of its geography. This has enabled the creation of several important industries, such as the large aluminum industries in British Columbia[82] and Quebec.[83] Canada is also one of the world's highest per capita consumers of energy.[84][85]


The electricity sector in Canada has played a significant role in the economic and political life of the country since the late 19th century. The sector is organized along provincial and territorial lines. In a majority of provinces, large government-owned integrated public utilities play a leading role in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. Ontario and Alberta have created electricity markets in the last decade in order to increase investment and competition in this sector of the economy. In 2017, the electricity sector accounted for 10% of total national greenhouse gas emissions.[86] Canada has substantial electricity trade with the neighbouring United States amounting to 72 TWh exports and 10 TWh imports in 2017.

Hydroelectricity accounted for 59% of all electric generation in Canada in 2016,[87] making Canada the world's second-largest producer of hydroelectricity after China.[88] Since 1960, large hydroelectric projects, especially in Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, have significantly increased the country's generation capacity.

The second-largest single source of power (15% of the total) is nuclear power, with several plants in Ontario generating more than half of that province's electricity, and one generator in New Brunswick. This makes Canada the world's sixth-largest producer of electricity generated by nuclear power, producing 95 TWh in 2017.[89]

Fossil fuels provide 19% of Canadian electric power, about half as coal (9% of the total) and the remainder a mix of natural gas and oil. Only five provinces use coal for electricity generation. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia rely on coal for nearly half their generation while other provinces and territories use little or none. Alberta and Saskatchewan also use a substantial amount of natural gas. Remote communities including all of Nunavut and much of the Northwest Territories produce most of their electricity from diesel generators, at high economic and environmental cost. The federal government has set up initiatives to reduce dependence on diesel-fired electricity.[90]

Non-hydro renewables are a fast-growing portion of the total, at 7% in 2016.

Oil and Gas

Syncrude's Mildred Lake plant site at the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta.

Canada possesses large oil and gas resources centred in Alberta and the Northern Territories, but also present in neighbouring British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The vast Athabasca oil sands give Canada the world's third largest reserves of oil after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela according to USGS. As such, the oil and gas industry represents 27% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions, an increase of 84% since 1990, mostly due to the development of the oil sands.[86]

Historically, an important issue in Canadian politics is the interplay between the oil and energy industry in Western Canada and the industrial heartland of Southern Ontario. Foreign investment in Western oil projects has fueled Canada's rising dollar. This has raised the price of Ontario's manufacturing exports and made them less competitive, a problem similar to the decline of the manufacturing sector in the Netherlands.[91][92]

The National Energy Policy of the early 1980s attempted to make Canada oil-sufficient and to ensure equal supply and price of oil in all parts of Canada, especially for the eastern manufacturing base.[93] This policy proved deeply divisive as it forced Alberta to sell low-priced oil to eastern Canada.[94] The policy was eliminated 5 years after it was first announced amid a collapse of oil prices in 1985. The new Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had campaigned against the policy in the 1984 Canadian federal election. One of the most controversial sections of the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement of 1988 was a promise that Canada would never charge the United States more for energy than fellow Canadians.[81]


An inland grain terminal along the Yellowhead Highway in Saskatchewan.

Canada is also one of the world's largest suppliers of agricultural products, particularly of wheat and other grains.[95] Canada is a major exporter of agricultural products, to the United States and Asia. As with all other developed nations the proportion of the population and GDP devoted to agriculture fell dramatically over the 20th century. The agriculture and agri-food manufacturing sector created $49.0 billion to Canada's GDP in 2015, accounting for 2.6% of total GDP.[96] This sector also accounts for 8.4% of Canada's Greenhouse gas emissions.[81]

As with other developed nations, the Canadian agriculture industry receives significant government subsidies and supports. However, Canada has been a strong supporter of reducing market influencing subsidies through the World Trade Organization. In 2000, Canada spent approximately CDN$4.6 billion on supports for the industry. Of this, $2.32 billion was classified under the WTO designation of "green box" support, meaning it did not directly influence the market, such as money for research or disaster relief. All but $848.2 million were subsidies worth less than 5% of the value of the crops they were provided for.

Free-trade agreements

  Free-trade areas

Free-trade agreements in force


Free-trade agreements no longer in force


Ongoing free-trade agreements negotiations


Canada is negotiating bilateral FTAs with the following countries respectively trade blocs:

Canada has been involved in negotiations to create the following regional trade blocks:

Political issues

Relations with the U.S.

Canada and the United States share a common trading relationship. Canada's job market continues to perform well along with the US, reaching a 30-year low in the unemployment rate in December 2006, following 14 consecutive years of employment growth.[100]

Flags of Canada and the United States

The United States is by far Canada's largest trading partner, with more than $1.7 billion CAD in trade per day in 2005.[101] In 2009, 73% of Canada's exports went to the United States, and 63% of Canada's imports were from the United States.[102] Trade with Canada makes up 23% of the United States' exports and 17% of its imports.[103] By comparison, in 2005 this was more than U.S. trade with all countries in the European Union combined,[104] and well over twice U.S. trade with all the countries of Latin America combined.[105] Just the two-way trade that crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Michigan and Ontario equals all U.S. exports to Japan. Canada's importance to the United States is not just a border-state phenomenon: Canada is the leading export market for 35 of 50 U.S. states, and is the United States' largest foreign supplier of energy.

Bilateral trade increased by 52% between 1989, when the U.S.–Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) went into effect, and 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) superseded it.[citation needed] Trade has since increased by 40%. NAFTA continues the FTA's moves toward reducing trade barriers and establishing agreed-upon trade rules. It also resolves some long-standing bilateral irritants and liberalizes rules in several areas, including agriculture, services, energy, financial services, investment, and government procurement. NAFTA forms the largest trading area in the world, embracing the 405 million people of the three North American countries.

The largest component of U.S.–Canada trade is in the commodity sector.

The U.S. is Canada's largest agricultural export market, taking well over half of all Canadian food exports.[106] Nearly two-thirds of Canada's forest products, including pulp and paper, are exported to the United States; 72% of Canada's total newsprint production also is exported to the U.S.

At $73.6 billion in 2004, U.S.-Canada trade in energy is the largest U.S. energy trading relationship, with the overwhelming majority ($66.7 billion) being exports from Canada. The primary components of U.S. energy trade with Canada are petroleum, natural gas, and electricity. Canada is the United States' largest oil supplier and the fifth-largest energy producing country in the world. Canada provides about 16% of U.S. oil imports and 14% of total U.S. consumption of natural gas. The United States and Canada's national electricity grids are linked, and both countries share hydropower facilities on the western borders.

While most of U.S.-Canada trade flows smoothly, there are occasionally bilateral trade disputes, particularly in the agricultural and cultural fields.[citation needed] Usually these issues are resolved through bilateral consultative forums or referral to World Trade Organization (WTO) or NAFTA dispute resolution.[citation needed] In May 1999, the U.S. and Canadian governments negotiated an agreement on magazines that provides increased access for the U.S. publishing industry to the Canadian market. The United States and Canada also have resolved several major issues involving fisheries. By common agreement, the two countries submitted a Gulf of Maine boundary dispute to the International Court of Justice in 1981; both accepted the court's October 12, 1984 ruling which demarcated the territorial sea boundary. A current issue between the United States and Canada is the ongoing softwood lumber dispute, as the U.S. alleges that Canada unfairly subsidizes its forestry industry.[citation needed]

In 1990, the United States and Canada signed a bilateral Fisheries Enforcement Agreement, which has served to deter illegal fishing activity and reduce the risk of injury during fisheries enforcement incidents. The U.S. and Canada signed a Pacific Salmon Agreement in June 1999 that settled differences over implementation of the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty for the next decade.[107]

Canada and the United States signed an aviation agreement during Bill Clinton's visit to Canada in February 1995, and air traffic between the two countries has increased dramatically as a result. The two countries also share in operation of the St. Lawrence Seaway, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.[108]

The U.S remains Canada's largest foreign investor and the most popular destination for Canadian foreign investments.  In 2018, the stock of U.S. direct investment in Canada totaled $406 billion, while the stock of Canadian investment in the U.S totaled $595 billion, or 46% of the overall CDIA stock for 2018.[109][110] This made Canada the second largest investing country in the U.S for 2018[111] US investments are primarily directed at Canada's mining and smelting industries, petroleum, chemicals, the manufacture of machinery and transportation equipment, and finance, while Canadian investment in the United States is concentrated in manufacturing, wholesale trade, real estate, petroleum, finance, and insurance and other services.[112]

Debt issue

Central Government Debt

The OECD reports the Central Government Debt as percentage of the GDP. In 2000 Canada's was 40.9 percent, in 2007 it was 25.2 percent, in 2008 it was 28.6 percent and by 2010 it was 36.1 percent.[113] The OECD reports net financial liabilities measure used by the OECD, reports the net number at 25.2%, as of 2008,[113] making Canada's total government debt burden as the lowest in the G8. The gross number was 68% in 2011.[114]

The CIA World Factbook, updated weekly, measures financial liabilities by using gross general government debt, as opposed to net federal debt used by the OECD and the Canadian federal government. Gross general government debt includes both "intragovernmental debt and the debt of public entities at the sub-national level". For example, the CIA measured Canada's public debt as 84.1% of GDP in 2012 and 87.4% of GDP in 2011 making it 22nd in the world.[115]

Household Debt

Household debt, the amount of money that all adults in the household owe financial institutions, includes consumer debt and mortgage loans. In March 2015, the International Monetary Fund reported that Canada's high household debt was one of two vulnerable domestic areas in Canada's economy; the second is its overheated housing market.[116]

According to Statistics Canada, total household credit as of July 2019 was CAD$2.2 trillion.[117] According to Philip Cross of the Fraser Institute, in May 2015, while the Canadian household debt-to-income ratio is similar to that in the US, however lending standards in Canada are tighter than those in the United States to protect against high-risk borrowers taking out unsustainable debt.[118]

Mergers and Acquisition

Since 1985, 63,755 deals in- and outbound Canada have been announced,[when?] with an overall value of US$3.7 billion.[119] Almost 50% of the targets of Canadian companies (outbound deals) have a parent company in the US. Inbound deals are 82% percent from the US.

Here is a list of the biggest deals in Canadian history:[119]

Rank Date announced Acquiror name Acquiror nation Target name Target nation Value (in bil. USD)
1 January 26, 2000 Spin-off Canada Nortel Networks Corp Canada 59.97
2 June 20, 2000 Vivendi SA France Seagram Co Ltd Canada 40.43
3 December 7, 2007 Rio Tinto Canada Holdings Inc Canada Alcan Inc Canada 37.63
4 June 9, 2016 Enbridge Inc Canada Spectra Energy Corp United States 28.29
5 March 12, 2014 Enbridge Income Fund Canada Enbridge Inc-Liquids Canada 24.79
6 November 5, 2008 Shareholders Canada Cenovus Energy Inc Canada 20.26
7 July 23, 2012 CNOOC Canada Holding Ltd Canada Nexen Inc Canada 19.12
8 May 15, 2006 Xstrata PLC Switzerland Falconbridge Ltd Canada 17.40
9 November 8, 2006 Cia Vale do Rio Doce SA Brazil Inco Ltd Canada 17.15
10 March 23, 2009 Suncor Energy Inc Canada Petro-Canada Canada 15.58
11 July 29, 2008 Teck Cominco Ltd Canada Fording Canadian Coal Trust Canada 13.60

See also


  1. ^ The OECD produces an annual report on member nations who share the goal of "contributing to the development of the world economy" by attaining the "highest sustainable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of living while maintaining financial stability."
  1. ^ this figure is the Low Income Cut-Off, a calculation that results in higher figures than found in many comparable economies; Canada does not have an official poverty line
  2. ^ figures are for gross general government debt, as opposed to net federal debt; gross general government debt includes both intragovernmental debt and the debt of public entities at the sub-national level


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