Canada’s booming health sector helps make the economy the envy of the world

Written by By: Nick Krygier, CNN

Canada’s economy is healthier than most. But if the “north of the border” is showing healthy growth, it’s largely due to health-related industries thriving after years of culling jobs. This goes for the entire population — with 15 percent of jobs-earning workers relying on the industry for their income — as well as a high number of highly educated professionals in occupations like science, engineering and math.

Nearly every aspect of the health-related industry benefits the rest of the economy, so much so that it often happens to hurt the country’s overall health, according to the Canadian Economic Research Institute, the report’s author.

A recent report by the Canadian Economic Research Institute showed that jobs in health, including health care and social assistance, and health, medical and scientific research, contribute to the country’s gross domestic product. Credit: Canadian Health Association

Health is a significant contributor to Canada’s GDP — it contributes up to 9 percent, estimates the report. And jobs related to the industry — including health care and social assistance, and health, medical and scientific research — often carry a salary that is comparable to that of more senior positions within other industries.

Several innovative and high-paying sectors surrounding health care — like biotechnology, medical research and biotech — produce many innovative therapies and treatments. But these industries also eliminate less-productive positions in other sectors, to increase productivity, added the report.

One of the major impacts of health-related jobs in Canada comes from research and development (R&D), which comes from research that has been paid for with funding from grants, industry and corporations. Of the more than 5 million R&D jobs in Canada, about 2.5 million support health care.

However, for every job created related to health, the number of people supporting it reduces by between 36 and 58, suggesting that the job impact has small, if any, impact on the overall economy, said the report.

So what of the health sector in countries like the United States? R&D on drugs has always been important to the pharmaceutical industry, but the health sector has led other sectors’ creation of the drugs that are now widely used for a number of ailments.

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