The Canada Year Book:2006:
Everyone has to have their vices, and one of mine is that I love atlases and yearbooks. I can never get enough of either. Thus it is that the latest Canada Yearbook has arrived in my mailbox. It costs $28.20 with taxes, and it's one of the few examples of "voluntary taxation" that a government is ever likely to provide for you- plus the return is guaranteed, unlike the lottery. The Almanac differs from recent editions in that it is a return to an earlier format of concise statistical tables with less verbiage. The information is as up-to-date as it is possible to be in a book, and more recent data is available at the Statscan website at www.statcan.ca . The book can provide a great number of interesting and thought provoking factoids, and books such as these can be a great relief if you have recently overdosed on leftist verbiage and you feel that your "critique" might benefit from a dip in the waters of reality.
Let's open the book at random, just as I do in my own bathroom.
A)Pages 24 and 25. Page 24 is titled "Upping the ante:Gambling in Canada", and the graph presented shows that while lottery revenues have been basically flat since 1993 at about 3 billion dollars the revenues from casinos, vlts and slot machines has grown rapidly. The revenues from casinos overtook that from lotteries in 1997 and now stands at about 4 billion dollars. VLTs bring in slightly less than lotteries (also about 3 billion) while slot machines have grown since they were legalized in 1997 to a revenue source of about 2 billion dollars. Understand that some of these revenues are counted twice. VLTs and slots are often in casinos. All told gambling generated profits of about 5 billion for provincial governments in 2004. Puritans of both the right and the left may decry this trend, but I personally find it refreshing that this is $5 billion worth of revenue that government does NOT demand out of you. It is voluntary.
Page 25 is entitled 'Consumer Spending on Recreation', and it is interesting in its own way. Strangely enough people in the three northern territories spend far more than those in the provinces on recreation. In the south, BC, Alberta and Ontario spend more than average compared to other provinces. Folks in New Brunswick seem to have the least fun as they spend less than any other jurisdiction. Live must be a serious business in NB. Cable and satellite TV head the pack of items, followed by package travel tours and the use of sport and recreational facilities. Strangely enough spending for live performing arts exceeds that of live sports. One would never think so, but consider, for a minute, the cost of a ticket to most rock concerts. The bucks add up.
B)Pages 146 and 147. Page 146 is titles 'Elections by the Numbers'. Voter participation has indeed dropped from its high in 1958,1962 and 1963 of about 80%. About 65% of eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2006 elections, but this was a reversal of the trend of falling participation in each of the five previous elections.
Page 147 deals with the public service sector of the labour force. About 3 million Canadians work for the government at either the federal, provincial or municipal levels. The federal public service declined steadily from 1992 to 1999, but has grown 12% by 2004. Overall public service workers make up about 19% of the workforce in Canada. This varies greatly from province to province, from a low of 15% in Alberta to a high of 27% in Saskatchewan.
C)Pages 216 and 217: These open up to tables that are part of the 'Labour' section of the surveys. Table 13.14 on page 216 charts days lost to illness, disability and personal or family responsibility by industrial sector. Looking across the chart it seems that the 'Health Care and Social Assistance' sector is the sickest with a high of 14.4 days lost in 2004, a lead that it has consistently maintained since 1999. The healthiest, or maybe the most workaholic, is the "professional,scientific and technical" sector at 5.6 days. This has also been consistent since 1999.
Page 217 gives an account of total days lost and days lost due to illness or disability by province. Seems that Quebec is the sickest (or most dangerous) province while Albertans are as healthy as horses (or cows).
I could go on and on. Each page you open leads to a new treasure. Sometimes the results will be surprising and may challenge your set opinions. All told you will benefit a lot more from browsing books like this than from reading Hegel in the can.