Happiest places not richest or biggest

The happiest places to live in Canada aren’t the biggest or richest. According to a study of 1,200 neighbourhoods and communities across Canada, people in smaller and rural communities tend to be happier. Positive characteristics include greater wellbeing, equality, a sense of community belonging, lower commute times and affordable housing. Average incomes and unemployment rates had little impact.

The happiest communities in Canada? Neebing, ON (pop 2,055), Hope, BC (pop 6,181) and Souris, PEI (pop 1,173), while people living in the big cities of Vancouver and Toronto have lower average life satisfaction—although Montrealers are slightly happier than the Canadian average. Some large city neighbourhoods are among the happiest in Canada, but those in suburban high-commuting or very dense downtown neighbourhoods are distinctly less happy.

According to the World Happiness Report, Canadians are the 7th happiest people in the world, with Nordic countries such as Norway, Finland and Denmark consistently at the top.

CCPA wealth study and OECD distribution of wealth

Most people are aware that income inequality has gotten worse, with the top one per cent taking more than 11 per cent of total incomes. However as bad as income inequality is, wealth inequality is even worse.

Recent statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that Canada’s wealthiest 10 per cent own more than 50 per cent of all the household wealth in Canada while our bottom 60 per cent own just 12 per cent.

As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently reported, Canada’s wealthiest 87 families—have an average net worth of $3 billion each, twice as much as in 1999 and equal to the net wealth of 12 million Canadians. The reality is likely even worse: an estimated $300 billion are hidden in tax havens by wealthy Canadians.

Work less, produce more

A New Zealand company, Perpetual Guardian, experimented with a four-day work week and no reduction in pay or benefits and found it was a resounding success.

Workers were getting over-stretched with home, family and work commitments, and workplace productivity was declining. Moving to a four-day work week and giving workers more control over their work enabled employees to better deal with life and home commitments, and better focus on their jobs during working hours, resulting in greater employee productivity, improved work-life balance, and reduced stress. Countries with lower average work weeks—such as Norway, Denmark and Finland—rank higher in the world happiness rankings. Seven in 10 Canadians say they’d like to work four days a week even if it means they’d have to work longer hours on those four days.