Friday, May 30, 2008

Fast Life in Alberta is Creating Serious Social Costs

Here is a disturbing sign of the times in Alberta. The annual Blueberry Festival in Fort McMurray is cancelled this year. Why? It is a community driven event but with the time starved reality of life in Alberta, the city could not find the volunteers to produce the event.

Looks like Fort McMurray had to pick up the production of the Canada Day events because of lack of volunteer capacity as well.

This is not unique to Fort McMurray. In Edmonton some 15 festivals banded together this year to run a volunteer recruiting event. The life-work balance in Alberta is way out of whack. Some will take pride that Albertans work the hardest and longest in Canada. Not me. The Alberta pace of growth and the stresses it is causing on individuals, families and now communities is not part of the success story of the economy. I think the economy should be there to serve the neds society and make it better for everyone, not the other way around and only serve the few at the top of the socio-economic food chain.

The use of GDP to measure our success is not only useless it is dangerous. We need a more comprehensive and balanced approach to measure success and progress in ourselves, our communities, if not society and the world The movement toward Genuine Progress Indicators (GPI) is a much more appropriate tool than GDP to see how well we are doing as a society.

What makes life worthwhile in terms of well-being, be it financially, professionally, personally, environmentally and in our social and civic lives all need to be considered now in how we our measure progress.

I strongly recommend people read Mark Anielski’s book “The Economics of Happiness” for some better understanding of this GPI concept. That is if you can find the time to read a book these days.