Over the past 50 years, wages in Canada have stayed the same while personal debt has quintupled. In Ontario, the percentage of workers in minimum wage jobs has increased 500% since 1997.
What has caused Canada to so completely miss the international trend to higher wages and fuller employment that many more successful nations in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) have enjoyed? How were their policies different?
The Human Effort Index looks at how hard people have to work to produce the food, clothing and shelter we need, along with the extra material comforts we crave.
In regions with moderate climate and abundant resources, it’s taken relatively little effort to produce a good living. In more marginal lands with harsher climates, much more effort is required for survival.
In the Canadian Arctic, for example, indigenous people had to work constantly to eke out the barest living, often punctuated by periods of starvation and population decline. Their material possessions were minimal, their food storage capacity low and their educational system completely survival oriented.
Most Canadians believe the climate is changing and that human activity is responsible. Many Canadians are aware that Canada’s record of greenhouse gas emission (GHG) increases is among the worst in the world. And if asked where the increase in carbon emissions is coming from, virtually every Canadian would say the oil sands.
And they would be wrong. For despite the rapid development of the oil sands and its inherently GHG emissions intensive nature, they constitute only a fraction of Canada’s emissions increase.