As Canada prepared to ring in its centennial year at midnight, June 30th, 1967, the town of Bowsman, Manitoba set fire to its outhouses to mark the occasion and to celebrate the construction of its new sewer system. It was the country’s first celebratory event in a year that saw us host the World’s Fair in Montreal and the resignations of prominent federal leaders John Diefenbaker and Lester B. Pearson. Toronto’s Yorkville hippies were front-page news, the first Order of Canada honour was presented and the Toronto Maple Leafs won their 13th – and last – Stanley Cup.
This year’s Canada Day celebrations will begin the countdown to our 150th year as a country in 2017. Celebrations are already being planned as cities, towns and communities across the country prepare a yearlong celebration. There's a lot to celebrate, even though we certainly have our faults. Prominent among them is our history with, and treatment of indigenous peoples. But we’re working on it. And we have a bright, young Prime Minister setting the tone for how we go forward as a nation.
Canada is a great place to live and work. We who are lucky enough to live here know it. And the world knows it, too. In fact, Canada is ranked as the second-best country in the world behind Germany, from a field of 60 countries for overall sustainability, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, economic influence and most importantly, quality of life. We placed ahead of the U.K., the U.S., and Sweden (if you’re keeping score).
If you’re part of the booming Boomer generation, you’ll be happy to know Canada is the 5th best country to grow old in, with our unique old age pension programs and health care system. And if that’s not enough:
- our economy is the 14th largest, making us one of the wealthiest nations with a consistently high standard of living.
- our unemployment rates are lower than other countries.
- we’re major contributors to quantum computing, medical discoveries, space science and technology.
- we’re one of the most peaceful countries in the world.
- while other nations continue to debate the issue, we’ve been celebrating inclusivity and same-sex marriages for years.
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And we’re polite. In fact, our politeness is one of the reasons we play well with other nations and why our general satisfaction levels consistently rate high. That’s according to the results of the 2016 Best Countries survey conducted by U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which surveyed more than 16,000 people in four global regions. Participants were asked to rank 60 countries, covering a wide range of topics that include: adventure, citizenship, entrepreneurship, heritage, influence, movers, open for business, power and quality of life.
In January’s World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Prime Minister Trudeau called Canada a ‘great place to invest’ because of our public health care, education, safety and economic stability. That business decision-makers eye Canada as the place they’d like to locate or relocate their businesses and/or head offices speaks volumes about our quality of life and the opportunities Canada offers.
Our tax structures aren’t the highest among nations but they aren’t the lowest either. That makes the Canadian workplace, benefits and lifestyle a selling point to organizations seeking to attract and retain a workforce. Canada’s also a great place to start a business. Interestingly, in a field where Asian countries typically reign, Canada, at 4th place, was the only non-Asian country to rank in the top five.
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According to Maclean’s Magazine’s Canada Day survey:
- We have greater economic freedom because of our sound, reliable and transparent public finances.
- Our banks and banking systems are better and stronger (4 of the top 10 banks in the world were Canadian)
- We have a relatively lower unemployment rate than the U.S., particularly among young workers.
- We have better health care, benefits, paid holidays and paid leaves, including maternity and paternal leave.
Our workplaces are mandated by law to be inclusive and welcoming, with opportunities open to all. According to a BMO study, “in Canada, nearly half of millionaires are immigrants or second-generation residents, compared to just one-third in America.”
There is no shortage of reasons why Canada is not just a great place but the place to live and work. Most of us wouldn’t dream of leaving, especially with the looming U.S. presidential election. We’re smart, kind, funny, musical, technologically advanced, creative, aware, alert and deeply caring. With all this in mind, on July 1st, light candles, watch fireworks, eat birthday cake, join hands and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ as loud as you can.
And prepare yourself for the all-out festivities for Canada's milestone 150th birthday in 2017!