A decline in the wellbeing of Canadians is highlighted in the latest report from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW). With the release of their second composite index, the CIW reports a 24 per cent drop in Canadian wellbeing between 2008 and 2010.
The authors demonstrate that although this coincides with the recession of 2008, Canada’s economic measure of productivity – the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – is showing a different picture. Since 2008, Canada’s GDP fell by 8.3 per cent with signs of slow recovery in 2010; meanwhile, the CIW shows a sharper decline in standard of living and no upward trend.
“The recession hit Canadians harder than economic numbers such as the GDP have indicated, and the decline in our wellbeing continues despite subsequent economic recovery,” says the Honourable Roy Romanow, Advisory Board co-chair for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), housed in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo.
The CIW report, ‘How are Canadians Really doing?” tracks 64 separate indicators within eight interconnected domains central to the lives of Canadians: Community Vitality; Democratic Engagement; Education; Environment; Healthy Populations; Leisure and Culture; Living Standards; and Time Use.
The report shows that since 2008 we have experienced a significant drop in our standard of living along with further declines in the health of our environment and our ability to participate in leisure and culture activities. Even growth areas such as health and education began to show signs of weakening.
Looking further back from 1994 to 2010, Canada’s economy (GDP) grew by a robust 28.9 per cent, while improvements in Canadian wellbeing over the same 17-year period saw only a small 5.7 per cent increase. There are some individual areas that have improved. Violent crime is at its lowest level since 1994, dropping every year since 2001 and property crime, also at its lowest level, is down 48 per cent from 1994.