Recession takes the quality out of life
Oct 23, 2012 / 7:07 am
Canada's economy may well be muddling through, but on a more personal level, Canadians generally are not, a new study of well-being suggests.
The Canadian Well-being Index, led by researchers at the University of Waterloo, shows that quality of life in Canada deteriorated by 24 per cent between the onset of recession in 2008 and 2010.
Canada's main economic indicator, gross domestic product, only declined by about 8.3 per cent over the same period and began to make a turnaround by the end of 2010.
"When Canada's economy was thriving, Canadians only saw modest improvements in their overall quality of life," said former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, who is co-chair of the index's advisory board.
"But when the economy faltered, our well-being took a disproportionate step backward."
The same trend is true over the past two decades, the index of 64 different indicators shows. Most of the indicators are based on data from Statistics Canada.
Between 1994 and 2010, Canada's GDP grew 29 per cent while well-being only inched ahead by 5.7 per cent.
"Despite years of prosperity, our economic growth has not translated into similar significant gains in our overall quality of life, says the report, to be released Tuesday.
"Even more concerning is the considerable backslide Canadians have experienced since 2008."
The trends are worrisome, Romanow said, because even though there are bright spots in some areas, the index reveals long-term declines in environment and leisure time, as well as a sharp, sudden drop in living standards.
It also raises serious questions about the quality of health care, education and democratic engagement.
On the positive side, violent crime and property crime are at their lowest levels since 1994, and people feel safe walking in their neighbourhoods. Volunteering is robust, and Canadians generally feel a strong sense of community.
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