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e-3071 (Economy and finance)

E-petition
Initiated by Bronwen Brice from Nanaimo, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

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, spiralling 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 wellbeing economy would prioritise public health and wellbeing 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 wellbeing indicators should be;
  • The consensus for the shift to a wellbeing economy is growing. Scientists have called on governments to “shift from pursuing GDP growth and affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving wellbeing” to tackle the climate emergency. Business leaders are pressing for an economic reset that recognises human dependence on nature and includes measures of economic performance beyond GDP,  and most citizens agree that the government should prioritise health and wellbeing goals above economic growth;
  • Wellbeing economics has already been adopted by several jurisdictions. New Zealand unveiled the world’s first wellbeing 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 wellbeing economy.

Response by the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Sean Fraser

The Government thanks the petitioners for expressing their views about well-being measurement.  The Government shares the view that traditional measures of economic success, like growth in GDP, need to be complemented with a range of quality of life measures, based on an understanding that not everything that matters can be measured in purely economic or financial terms.  In 2019, the Prime Minister tasked the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance with ‘better incorporating quality of life measurements into government decision-making and budgeting’, drawing on the global examples of countries like New Zealand and Scotland. 

Subsequently, on April 19, 2021 as part of Budget 2021, the Department of Finance released a draft Quality of Life Framework as part of Annex 4 and, concurrently, a discussion paper entitled Measuring What Matters: Toward a Quality of Life Strategy for Canada. This document lays out the global and domestic context for the Government’s work to identify quality of life measurements, describes the process undertaken to arrive at a draft framework summarizing a set of measures intended for use in government decision-making, and invites the Canadian public to provide feedback.  It can be read online at: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/services/publications/measuring-what-matters-toward-quality-life-strategy-canada.html.

Notably, the document addresses many of the issues raised in the petition, including the need for the Government to draw on a broad spectrum of evidence beyond traditional economic measures to inform its decisions as well as the importance of considering distributions of quality of life determinants with a view to closing gaps, and long-term impacts on future quality of life to ensure sustainability and resilience.

Petitioners may also be interested in key aspects of Budget 2021, which further advance the Government’s ambitions in its quality of life measurement exercise, including Annex 5, the ‘Budget Impacts Report’, which assesses each Budget 2021 measure in terms of who it is expected to affect most, and how those groups are expected to be affected, using the draft Quality of Life Framework to articulate this.

Budget 2021 also makes key investments in federal data, to fill key gaps in the evidence of what matters most to Canadians.  These include:

  • Resources for Statistics Canada to fill key gaps in its quality of life measurement, shedding light on how non-economic, societal and environmental factors are contributing to Canadians’ quality of life;
  • Resources for Statistics Canada to improve the disaggregation of key data sets, including household surveys so as to provide better information on socio-economic outcomes for racialized groups, Indigenous and LGBTQ2 individuals;
  • Resources for Indigenous Services Canada for the development of distinctions-based First Nations, Inuit and Métis data strategies;
  • Resources for Statistics Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada for the development of a ‘Census of the Environment’.

The Government encourages the petitioners to review the aforementioned discussion paper, and to submit their views electronically at fin.qualityoflife-qualitedevie.fin@canada.ca.  The paper can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/services/publications/measuring-what-matters-toward-quality-life-strategy-canada.html.  Their feedback will help to inform next steps for the Quality of Life Framework.   

Open for signature
December 29, 2020, at 10:28 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 27, 2021, at 10:28 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
April 21, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00848)
Government response tabled
June 4, 2021
Photo - Paul Manly
Nanaimo—Ladysmith
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia
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