Once we envision the society we want, we clearly see its outlines.
Vibrant communities are places where, as Jane Jacobs described, people know their neighbours, streets are safe and friendly, and volunteering for the public good is common, leading to feelings of affiliation, belonging, and empowerment.
Without intending to do so, government policy, by treating such goals as peripheral to economic growth, has allowed feelings of alienation, hostility, and selfishness to crowd out shared values of decades ago.
As Martin Luther King Jr. noted, you cannot legislate morality. Nevertheless, when the human scale of government policy is ignored, when the tax system, employment strategies, and labour policies all mitigate towards less leisure and family time, more time in long commutes, and an increasingly “time-stressed” population, as measured by Statistics Canada, government policy should adjust its goals to re-balance and protect these fundamental pillars of our civilization – family and community.
In the last few years, quality of life, as measured in our ability to get ahead and enjoy more leisure time, has declined for 90 % of Canadians. Homelessness, and mental health and drug addiction problems, have increased. The cost of post-secondary education and training has sky-rocketed. The gap between rich and poor in Canada has widened. Women, on average, still earn far less than men. The middle class is struggling. Given the wealth and resources of our country, this is tragic.