Home to a diverse group of major companies ranging from cinema (IMAX), aerospace (Bombardier), to computer software (Corel) and telecommunications (Research In Motion) Canada is an important source of innovation (ranked 12 in 2008 patent filings and patent grants, ahead of India, Brazil, Spain, Australia among others). Canada has its own unique venture capital system (TSX venture exchange) that makes it easier for startup companies to gain access to capital. The system has helped many of the over 2,400 oil and gas companies headquartered in Calgary, Alberta through its role in acquainting investors and entrepreneurs with each other, and thus providing small companies with enough capital as to become sizeable enough to join major indices (as in the case with SXC Health Solutions, major exchanges like the TSX and Nasdaq require companies be valued at or above a specific % of the entire indice). In the commodities sector, Canada is home to a lot of the world's corn, peas, and wheat (Saskatchewan), petroleum (Alberta), nickel and uranium. Although the country ranks between 5 and 10 in gold production (far behind countries like China and Australia), most of the world's major gold companies are based in the country (half of the biggest 12 as of 2011) making it a major destination for gold investment (on August 10, 2011 gains by Canadian gold companies were big enough to pare losses suffered by other sectors of the economy). Canada is also home to some of the world's biggest insurance companies, among them Manulife, Great-West Lifeco, Sun Life Financial, and Intact Financial Corporation. Its big banks which emerged from the financial crisis largely unscathed have positioned themselves well abroad in countries like the United States (TD Ameritrade, Marshall & Ilsley Corp., TD Bank owns Chryslers vehicle financing business unit and Bank of America's Canadian credit card business ($8.5B in Aug'11).
As of June 6, 2011 the big 5 banks had a combined market cap of US$282 billion, the 3 biggest insurance companies US$70 billion, the 15 biggest gold companies about US$160 billion and the top 20 oil companies near US$380 billion. In 2010, Canadian companies that made it onto forbes global 2000 list, had a market value that ranked 7th among all countries. There's also the media where Thomson Reuters (controlled by Canadian company Thomson Corporation owned by Canadian investment firm Woodbridge) and Shaw Communications have a diverse and widespread audience both in Canada and internationally. Canada's EKATI diamond mine produces 6% of the world's diamond production by value, Saskatchewan leads all countries in uranium production accounting for 30% of global supply in 2010 (Newfoundland and British Columbia also produce uranium); Saskatchewan is also a leader when it comes to potash (Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan is the world's biggest potash company, BHP Billiton committed $240 million in 2010 to Saskatchewan's Jansen mine).
Groups representing Canadian pension plans have successfully acquired major companies operating in a number of economic sectors, in Canada and abroad. They have been aggressive, diligent and steadfast with regards to takeovers, attracting the attention of trade missions by foreign governments. Canadian pension funds have also shown interest in Australia's real estate market, infrastructure, and timberland.
Canadian companies hold a number of key patents relating to oil processing/production and extraction technologies. Petrobank Energy and Resources invented the toe-to-heel air injection heavy oil extracting process which is 17% more efficient than its alternative, Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage. Imperial Oil (steel wire rope lubricants), Suncor (conveyor belts and hand railings), Cenovus Energy and Schlumberger Canada are also major investors in R&D.
Canada is home to 5 of the world's 50 largest banks. Toronto is the third largest financial services center in North America after New York City and Chicago. Montreal is home to Caisse de Dépôt et Placements, the largest institutional fund manager in Canada.
For the month of May (2011) Canada added 22,000 jobs bringing down the unemployment rate to record low levels (7.6% by the end of May). Although on the surface the news sounds good the details aren't very assuring; all of the jobs were in three provinces New Brunswick, Quebec and Saskatchewan and most of them were in the retail and service industry including self employment while many high paying jobs (with job security) were lost by the manufacturing sector. More self employed individuals means more entrepreneurs which helps the country attract more investment from abroad. For the youth though the results aren't as appealing as job security is harder to come by.