Petition: Measure well-being, instead of GDP

Updated: Feb 18

This petition closes for signatures on Feb. 27th, 2021.


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Many Canadians are struggling as a result of the COVID pandemic. The pandemic has been hard for many reasons. People have lost their jobs. Businesses have closed. Parents are working from home and juggling childcare and at-home learning. Many people feel isolated, and anxious about the unknown. As Canada moves towards post-COVID recovery, it's a good time to think about how we measure our well-being.


To measure how the country is doing, the government relies on the gross domestic product (GDP) as an indicator of success. When we say GDP, we mean the total value of everything produced within Canada. The problem is that GDP does not tell us how Canadians are actually doing. Having a growing GDP sounds good, but it hides the fact that inequalities are growing in Canada and that the people who are benefiting the most from GDP growth are the ultra rich. These growing inequalities are highlighted in the fact that in the first six months of the pandemic, while many Canadians were losing their jobs, Canada's 20 richest billionaires, including the owners of Canada's largest grocery store chains, increased their wealth by a staggering $37 billion. Increasing GDP does not mean that the average Canadian is making more money or that they have an increasing quality of life.


GDP also does not consider how the increase in profits is achieved. Growth in GDP is considered "good" even if it comes at the expense of the environment. If companies are increasing their profits by polluting more, that does not factor into the measurement of GDP. That's a big reason why GDP is not a measurement that the government should be using.


What if the government shifted its focus away from how much money companies are making? What if the success of our country was based on the quality of and access to healthcare, the quality of the education system, the quality of jobs available, and other indicators of well-being that provide a full picture of the quality of life Canadians are living. Measuring well-being would also allow for a greater focus on the well-being of our ecosystems and our environmental impacts, to ensure that the next generation is also able to live a high quality of life. By measuring well-being and quality of life, the government would be able to better to address inequalities within Canadian society.


If you support this call to change how the government measures success, and move from measuring GDP to measuring well-being, I encourage you to sign the below petition.

Whereas:

  • Our government’s fixation on profit and growth is taking us down a dangerous path leading to a widening gap between rich and poor, spiraling poverty, environmental breakdown and a mental health crisis;

  • GDP growth has been a poor measure of a success. It counts polluting factories and the manufacture of weapons, but tells us nothing about the quality of education our children receive, the availability of well paid and secure jobs or the number of species threatened with extinction. Yet GDP growth is still the government’s main economic goal;

  • A well-being economy would prioritize public health and well-being indicators, reorienting our economy towards what matters most, and civil society and the public should play a key role in determining what these new health and well-being indicators should be;

  • The consensus for the shift to a well-being economy is growing. Scientists have called on governments to “shift from pursuing GDP growth and affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving well-being” to tackle the climate emergency. Business leaders are pressing for an economic reset that recognizes human dependence on nature and includes measures of economic performance beyond GDP, and most citizens agree that the government should prioritize health and well-being goals above economic growth;

  • Well-being economics has already been adopted by several jurisdictions. New Zealand unveiled the world’s first well-being economy budget in 2019 and Amsterdam has adopted a Doughnut economy model to guide the city’s development.

We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to discontinue GDP measurement and shift to a well-being economy.


SIGN THE PETITION NOW