As Canadians look forward to a summer with more freedom and fewer restrictions, the wait for better days can feel eternal and miserable—for some parts of the country more than others. A so-called Misery Index from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute shows which provinces have been suffering the most during the pandemic.

According to the Index, Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta have failed to keep COVID-19 cases and deaths down even with long and strict lockdowns, causing their economies to plunge like never before. “As MLI’s experts have argued from the beginning of the pandemic, early action by the federal government on foreign travel could have reduced the misery felt by Canadians,” says the report.

A high unemployment rate and increasing COVID-19 cases and deaths have caused Alberta to rank as the most miserable province, followed by Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

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Image via Macdonald-Laurier Institute

Alberta scored lowest partly because COVID coincided with a decrease in oil demand, which caused unemployment rates in the province to surge higher than anywhere else in the country. 

“Lockdowns were originally pitched to Canadians as a magic bullet,” states MLI senior fellow Richard Audas, designer of the Provincial COVID Misery Index. “Unfortunately, while the disease itself is predictable, human behaviour is not.”

The province that has managed the pandemic’s impacts the best, according to the report, is Prince Edward Island with an A+ grade, followed by Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Interestingly, four of Canada’s wealthier provinces have experienced the worst misery,” adds Audas.