Canadians share a legacy of coming together during hard times and building a stronger foundation for a vibrant future. As we continue to struggle from the 2008 recession we believe that same legacy holds the key to our collective recovery and growth.
From quarterly updates of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) we know our economy is slowly beginning to improve, but what does this mean for everyday Canadians? How are we really doing?
Asking these questions highlights the weakness in relying solely on GDP to measure how our country is faring. As useful a tool as it is, GDP only tells us about our economic productivity, assuming that all growth is good when in fact, spending on crime or natural disasters contributes to productivity. Further, GDP tells us nothing about our people, our environment, our democracy, or other aspects of life that matter to Canadians.
In 2011 we launched the first national report of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. With that report we discovered that between 1994 and 2008, Canada showed robust economic growth, but increases in the wellbeing of Canadians were not nearly comparable. Since then we are now able to track the significant impact the 2008 recession has had on the quality of life of everyday Canadians.
As the gap between those at the top and those at the bottom continues to grow in Canada, it is important to recognise that societies with greater inequality are shown to have worse health and wellbeing outcomes. The evidence shows negative impacts are not just felt by those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, even the wealthiest suffer decreased health and wellbeing in societies that are unbalanced.
Canada, like most countries, is facing difficult challenges ahead. In these uncertain times, we are fortunate to live in a country where we have choices about how we want the future to look. The CIW provides a broader depth of understanding that, when partnered with GDP, gives us the evidence needed to help steer Canada forward and build a society that responds to the call for greater fairness.
The choices we make as a society will determine whether we face a distressed future or a better quality of life.