Cannan: Reporting some positive economic news

Canada ranked third among 36 countries on the OECD Better Life Index.

Here’s a bit of good news—the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s  (OECD) 2013 Better Life Index just ranked Canada third among 36 countries (34 OECD countries plus Brazil and Russia), up from sixth place last year.

The mission of the OECD is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

Since the index’s inception, Canada has ranked near or at the top of each measured area, together with Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

The OECD Better Life Index assesses housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.

Key findings in this year’s index are:

• Canadians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 82 per cent of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day.

• In Canada, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is $28,194 US a year, more than the OECD average of $23,047 a year.

• More than 72 per cent of people aged 15 to 64 in Canada have a paid job, a higher rate than the OECD employment average of 66 per cent.

• People in Canada work 1,702 hours a year, less than most people in other OECD countries, who work an average of 1,776 hours.

• In Canada, 88 percent of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, well above the OECD average of 74 percent; furthermore, 90 per cent of Canadian women have completed high school.

• The average Canadian student scored 527 in reading literacy, math and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment. This score is higher than the OECD average of 497, making Canada one of the strongest OECD countries in terms of student skills.

• Life expectancy at birth in Canada is 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average of 80 years.

• Across Canada, the level of atmospheric PM10—tiny air-pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs—is 16 micrograms per cubic metre, considerably lower than the OECD average of 22 micrograms per cubic metre.

• Some 89 per cent of Canadians say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, a higher rate than the OECD average of 84 per cent.

• Some 94 per cent of Canadians believe they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 90 per cent.

A big part of this national success has to be attributed to the commitment and support provided at the local level by community organizations and volunteers across the country.

In Kelowna-Lake Country, we are blessed with a number of top notch community organizations that work tirelessly to improve the lives of others.

In fact, some of the most important are those that support and are supported by our seniors.

Every day, in thousands of communities across the country, Canadian seniors are making a difference by sharing their diverse skills, knowledge and experiences with others through volunteerism and mentoring.

In honour of their contribution, on May 22, Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), launched the 2013–14 New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) call for proposals for community-based projects.

Organizations may receive up to $25,000 in grant funding per year on projects that focus on one or more of the following objectives: volunteering, mentoring, expanding awareness of elder abuse, social participation and capital assistance.

Any local organizations that have an idea for a project can to go to seniors.gc.ca to take advantage of this call for proposals.  The deadline for applications is July 5, 2013.

NHSP funding is an excellent opportunity for organizations to promote the well-being of seniors by helping them to maintain a high quality of life and continue to be active, participating members of our community.

This year alone, the federal government will provide more than $33 million to support 1,750 community-based projects for seniors across the country. In fact, since its beginning, the NHSP has funded more than 12,200 projects in hundreds of communities that help foster social participation and inclusion of seniors in communities across Canada.

Participation by seniors in our society is vital to the wellbeing of our communities and it is important to acknowledge the important role they play.

Not only do we all benefit from their wisdom and experience, their contribution ensures Canada will continue to earn a top spot on the OECD’s Better Life Index.

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