Elizabeth May tables bill to better measure health and well-being in Canada

We need new ways to measure and communicate the real health and well-being of people, our communities, and our environment. Yesterday, I wrote about the proposal for an Inclusive Wealth Index, which the UNEP describes as a replacement for gross domestic product as a measurement of prosperity.

Today, Elizabeth May Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands – tabled a private member’s bill to better capture and share information about the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada.

The bill, the Canada Genuine Progress Measurement Act, calls for the development of new indicators, to be published regularly by Statistics Canada, in consultation with Canada’s Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development.

This call for new information is in stark contrast to the executive secrecy and anti-information legislation of Canada’s governing Conservatives. The federal government’s silencing of Statistics Canada, the shuttering of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, and recent attacks by Conservative Ministers on United Nations officials condeming Canada’s human rights, torture, and food secuity records underscore the urgency of promoting uncensored information.

May is quoted in a Green Party media release:

While not costing Canadian taxpayers a dime, this Bill will borrow the best practices from groups that are already doing great work in this area, and incorporate considerations such as impacts on literacy rates, income inequality, and the health of our environment into decisions made by the Government of Canada.

When she introduced the bill in the House of Commons, she included this powerful quote from US Sen. Robert Kennedy:

Too much and too long we seem to have surrendered community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulance to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead and armoured cars and police who fight riots in our streets. It counts the knife and the rifle and television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet, the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, the intelligence of our public debate, the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning. It measures everything in short except that which makes life worthwhile.

This is a great move by the Green Party that could provide information useful for building resilient cities and measuring our progress. Say thanks to Elizabeth May on Twitter and tell your local MP to support this bill.

Update: Here’s a transcript of Elizabeth May’s introduction of the bill in the House of Commons.