As an affluent, high-tech industrial society, Canada today closely resembles the U.S. in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards. In the last century, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. Canada has vast deposits of natural gas on the east coast and in the west, and a plethora of other natural resources contributing to self-sufficiency in energy. The 1989 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which included Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the U.S. Since 2001, Canada has successfully avoided economic recession and has maintained the best overall economic performance in the G8.
Two long-term concerns loom. The first being the continuing political differences over the constitution between Quebec and the rest of Canada, periodically raising the possibility of Quebec independence. As the economy becomes stronger, notably in Quebec, fears of separation have generally waned.
Another long-term concern is the emigration of professionals to the U.S., referred to as the "Brain Drain", lured by higher pay, lower taxes, and high-tech opportunities. Simultaneously, a largely under-recognized "Brain Gain" is occurring, as educated immigrants (particularly from developing countries) continue to enter Canada