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Canadians quality of life trails nation’s economic growth

Canadians quality of life trails nation’s economic growth
WATCH ABOVE: Economic growth doesn’t necessarily buy happiness for Canadians. Meaghan Craig reports.

It’s a snapshot over two decades and the findings may surprise you. A new report measuring what matters to people shows a massive gap between economic growth in our country and the well-being of the people who live here.

The report, How are Canadians really doing?proves not everything is peachy keen in households across the country and it’s keeping people up at night.

“Their health, their living standards, their leisure time, time with friends and their kids education,” Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine said. The University of Saskatchewan professor and social epidemiologist cited these as the reasons why we’re getting less shut eye than we were 21 years ago.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan deficit balloons to $1B with falling resource, tax revenue

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The report falls on the same day as the latest Statistics Canada numbers – showing the amount of people collecting employment insurance (EI) benefits in the province grew by 10 per cent between August and September.

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Alastair MacFadden, assistant deputy minister of labour market development with the Ministry of the Economy, said there are two reasons for that.

“We’re seeing more Saskatchewan workers have access to the EI system because the number of working hours has been reduced for some EI applications,” MacFadden said.

“The second thing we’re seeing is they’ve extended the duration of EI benefits for some Saskatchewan residents who are already receiving EI.”

READ MORE: The #1 reason employees quit and 6 factors that fuel their happiness

All of these factors raise the question: Is our overall quality of life getting worse?

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The Canadian Index of Well-being examined just that in the report released Tuesday and when comparing trends in the well-being of Canadians to economic growth, there’s been a massive gap between the two.

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“The overall quality of life of Canadians only improved 9.9 per cent over the last 21 years since ’94 since we start tracking whereas the GDP which is a good measure of the overall economy of a country increased or grew to 38 per cent.”

READ MORE: It’s not just a paycheque: Finding happiness through employment

Even after the economy recovered from the 2008 recession, the well-being of Canadians remained fairly low.

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The report also noted the some aspects of our lives have suffered more than others. Canadians are sacrificing things that make life worthwhile like leisure activities, art, culture, volunteering and vacations.

In many cases, people are living to work – not working to live. Some by choice, say experts but others work long hours because they have to.

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“We need to somehow reduce inequality that we have in our country,” Muhajarine said.

Universal basic income and access to recreational activities are just a few solutions experts say would help Canadians live beyond just paying the bills.