GDP growth ignores challenges most people in Canada face just to survive

A new alliance of Indigenous and Canadian organizations is calling for a well-being revolution — in the economy, that is. The Well-being Economies Alliance for Canada and Sovereign Indigenous Nations says the celebrations around gross domestic product returning to pre-pandemic levels discount the day-to-day hardships many in this country, including Indigenous people, face. Ahead of the upcoming federal budget, the alliance is calling for policies that put well-being first.

“The economy is up, but many people are down when it comes to their quality of life,” Yannick Beaudoin, lead facilitator with WEAll Can and director of innovation with the David Suzuki Foundation said. “It’s time to stop celebrating rises in GDP as if that means everyone is better off. In fact, it’s often the opposite.”

Canada’s GDP rose to 0.2 per cent over this time last year. However, according to recent Angus Reid polling, three-in-five Canadians say they’re having trouble feeding their households and two-in-five say they’re worse off than last year.

“Everyone is talking about building back better, but we need to consider what that means for everyone,” Beaudoin said. “We should learn from Indigenous Peoples who have always been guided by such principles. And we can follow the lead of countries like Scotland and New Zealand that are starting to put in place policies to promote well-being. Things like ensuring decent and secure work and social protection. And where productivity isn’t judged by dollar signs but by enhancement of that well-being.”

WEAll Can is an alliance of Indigenous and colonial descendants, economists, innovators, researchers, activists and policy experts looking to transform the economic system away from a growth mindset and toward one rooted in quality of life.

“Shifting to economies of well-being require us to uphold the dignity of all life, including our non-human relations: land, the waters, animals, trees, plant life and even the air we breathe,” Terrellyn Fearn, director of Turtle Island Institute said. “The earth is changing, therefore, we must change our way of thinking from individualism to communal by ‘centring values of relationality and care’ to connect to the living spirit of the land imbued with the life force of all of Creation.”

“Nothing short of a wholesale change in human values is called for in this generation and beyond,” Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, founder of Soul of the Mother said. “Respect, compassion and love for each other, generosity, kindness and unconditional sharing are the new laws of life for well-being. We, as adults, must learn and encourage our young people to learn the value of collective thinking for the highest good of all and the preservation of the commons.”

WEAll Can is part of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a global coalition advancing economies designed with human and ecological well-being in mind.

“We need a well-being revolution,” Beaudoin said. “We can’t keep taking and expanding at an unchecked rate while everyone and the natural world around us suffer. We need to focus on policies that deliver good lives and a healthy planet instead of growth.”

Learn more about the Well-being Economies Alliance for Canada and Sovereign Indigenous Nations at https://weallcanada.org.

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