The Reckoning: Revisiting Predictions for 2023

Examining hits and misses for 2023 encompassing economic, immigration, healthcare, political, and global aspects, offering insights into future trends. Photo credit: Unsplash

As I have done in previous years, I am once again looking back at what I expected to happen in 2023 to see how right or off-base I was.  I have always had problems with forecasters that never review their forecasts after the fact. I don’t want to join that club. So, here we go. 

My first prediction was about the economy, not surprisingly as I am an economist and tend to view most developments through that lens. I’d give myself 50-50 on this forecast. I expected things not to be as dire as predicted by many folks due to the fact the labour market would remain fairly strong because of the aging population and retiring baby boomers, which would keep employment relatively high. That did come to pass, as our unemployment numbers are still relatively low. I also expected slower growth in 2023, which was also true but I was wrong that the slowdown would occur earlier in the year and recover later. What actually happened was that the economy did indeed slow early in 2023, but went further south later in the year. I also underestimated the number of times the Bank of Canada would raise interest rates and therefore thought mortgage renewal pressures would be less problematic than they have turned out to be. As many Canadians have yet to renew their mortgages at the higher rates, this problem will persist for the next few years unless rates drop substantially. 

I also missed the extent to which the Trudeau government increased immigration and the impact that has on many aspects of the Canadian economy. More people in Canada buying goods and services will increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but worsen shortages such as housing and feed inflation as more people chase the same supply of consumer products. Tellingly, GDP/capita is declining relative to the US and other developed economies, which signals a drop in our standard of living. Although Canada has always invited significant immigration, the current record numbers are proving to be overwhelming and not helpful to either existing or new Canadians. The Trudeau government has moved away from the old points system of immigration which ensured potential immigrants had financial resources and skills needed in Canada. The points system worked well for many decades and the fact the current Liberals have abandoned it accounts for the sloppiness, lack of proper vetting of potential newcomers, long backlogs and other problems with our current immigration mess. 

My second prediction involved health care and the expectation that access and quality would worsen in 2023. That has indeed happened, and once again the immigration tidal wave is one reason for this. As I expected, resistance to structural change in the system has been reduced as Canadians increasingly realize we are one of the biggest spenders on health care in the world, yet achieve very mediocre results and have ever-worsening waiting lists. Ontario, among other provinces, has begun to experiment with more private clinics within the publicly-funded system, and there is less opposition to this change than previously. The usual suspects such as leftists and labour unions continue to oppose the participation of private providers, indicating that they have little if any knowledge of the fact that the best universal health care systems in the world have a combination of private and public facilities, and provide better care at lower cost than the Canadian system. 

My third prediction was bang on, in that I said Canada would not have a federal election in 2023. A year ago, there was much speculation that we would have such an election as Trudeau saw economic conditions worsening and wanted to get an election out of the way before things became even more ugly. In retrospect, this turned out to be a good call on Trudeau’s part, as we have seen public opinion turn against him very strongly since the beginning of the year, and he is pretty much guaranteed to have NDP support until 2025. I also predicted that support for Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives would pick up in 2023, which did happen to an even greater degree than I expected. 

My fourth prediction involved the expectation that public blowback against the “woke” leftist agenda would accelerate in 2023. This has happened, in everything from parents protesting in the streets about the teaching of radical gender ideologies and critical race theory being incorporated into our public education system to Canadians opposing DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) policies in universities and corporations to radical climate policies that increase taxes on average citizens while doing little if anything for the environment. This leftist philosophy, which was trendy for a long time, is wearing on average people as they see the negative outcomes and damage done to our children in schools and our economy. Thankfully, merit and accomplishment are making a long-deserved comeback.  

My final prediction involved the global geopolitical climate and that it would remain unstable because of the Russia-Ukraine war and China’s ongoing sabre-rattling with its geographic neighbours and Western democracies. I also forecast China’s ongoing economic weakness as its practice of rigid government control and dictatorial policies inevitably begin to fail, as they always do wherever they are tried.  The big and unfortunate surprise of 2023 was the eruption of yet another war in the Middle East, as Hamas launched an unprovoked and barbaric attack on Israel on October 7. Those conflicts will continue for some time to come, and continue to disrupt the global economy and many nations that have a significant Muslim diaspora, such as Canada. 

I really got it wrong on events in the US leading up to the 2024 federal election. I expected Ron DeSantis to prevail over Donald Trump regarding who will be the next Republican leader. Instead, DeSantis’ campaign fizzled early in the year and has not recovered since. At present, it looks as if Trump will be the candidate to lead the Republicans into the election next year, which will have a lot of impact on politics in Canada as well. 

So that’s it! I figure my score was about 50-50 overall, with as much wrong as right. The world we live in is increasingly hard to predict, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have a go at 2024. Please stay tuned for my next column which will attempt to lay out the big trends for 2024. It’s sure to be an interesting year, considering that the Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times” was intended to be a curse. 

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2024. 

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