Crosscountry: Canada at a glance — August 2014

Watch Dogs, an action-adventure video game developed by the Montreal studio of French company, Ubisoft makes history by selling more than eight million copies in its first three months on the market. Plus, recent reports show that Canada’s aerospace industry is soaring — and more.

PASTIMES

Game changer

Watch Dogs, an action-adventure video game developed by the Montreal studio of French company Ubisoft, has become one of the most stunning success stories in video game history. Launched in late May, the game has already shipped more than eight million copies.

Sales of video games in the United States totalled US$15.4 billion in 2013, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Compare that with Hollywood’s all-time high at the US box office, which, according to Forbes, was set in 2013 at US$10.9 billion.

INDUSTRY

It is rocket science

Canada’s aero space industry is flying high, according to a recent report from the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada. Not only does it boast more than 700 companies and 172,000 highly skilled jobs, but it contributes $28 billion to the Canadian economy. It also spends $1.7 billion annually on R&D — five times the manufacturing average. And when measured against the size of the national economy, the industry ranked second worldwide in 2010 (approximately 0.49% of GDP), just behind the US (0.5%).

 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Mixed signals

Your latest phone and Internet bill might make you think otherwise, but Canada apparently has some of the most competitive rates for telecommunications services in the world, according to a report published by the Montreal Economic Institute in May.

Certainly, competitive doesn’t mean lowest. In France, a package containing a landline, broadband Internet, mobile wireless and digital TV costs on average $100 a month. In Canada, the same package costs about $170. That is lower than in the US ($220), and about the same as in Japan and Australia.

However, the report says consumers must remember Canada has the highest infrastructure costs. (This is most likely because of its size and low population density.) Each individual consumer connection costs $106.36 compared with $86.16 in the US and $44.57 in the European Union.

PENSIONS

Finding a middle ground

Canadian governments should forget about defined-benefit (DB) and defined-contribution (DC) pension models, and move toward the middle-ground option of target-benefit plans (TBP), advises a C.D. Howe report.

The greatest drawback of DC plans is that they "leave complicated investment decision-making to plan members," write the authors of Target-Benefit Plans in Canada — An Innovation Worth Expanding. And DB plans have often become insolvent over the past decade and proven very costly to companies.

With TBPs, contributions are fixed. Plan members receive a targeted (but not guaranteed) DB-type pension at retirement. Benefits can be adjusted according to funding: if there are deficits, benefits are lowered; if there are surpluses, they are raised.

About the Author

Yan Barcelo


Yan Barcelo is a journalist in Montreal.

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