This summer conference explored how Albertans’ health and well-being are fundamentally shaped by the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work, and age, and how fairly those conditions are distributed and experienced. This includes the quality and integrity of our natural environments.
Our current economic system does not support healthy people and a healthy planet. Neoliberal capitalism prioritises relentless growth and private profit to benefit the few to the detriment of the many. It does so in large part by driving policies that justify cuts to public services such as high-quality education, health care, and transit; and subsidies for activities that destroy our ecosystems upon which all life depends. Inequalities in wealth and power are a feature of this system, not a bug; unequal health outcomes are a byproduct that in turn reproduces political, social, and financial disparities.
We need an alternative. A well-being economy re-imagines the purpose of our economy and society to place quality of life for everyone and the sustainability of our planet at the centre. It invites us to expand our imaginations of what is possible. It brings together different sectors, disciplines, and perspectives to offer a bold, coherent vision for the type of society we wish to have.
This virtual conference provided a forum for mobilization and implementation (‘nuts and bolts’) of a well-being economy. While focusing on Alberta’s unique context, we generated enthusiasm and practical models for imagining an economy that works for everyone – everywhere.
Watch the conference sessions on Parkland Institute's YouTube channel.
Session 1: Welcome, introduction, opening keynote and Alberta respondents
Welcome and Introduction: Lindsay McLaren, University of Calgary and Parkland Institute
Opening Keynote: Jim Stanford, Centre for Future Work - The economy is us: demystifying economics
Respondents: Marliss Taylor, Streetworks Edmonton; Mark Anielski, Wellbeing Economist, Alberta
Moderator: Bob Ascah, Parkland Institute
Session 2: Financing and democratizing well-being policy in Alberta
Presentation: Thomas Marois, SOAS University of London - Public Banks: decarbonization, definancialization, and democratization
Respondents: Bob Ascah, ABpolecon.ca and Parkland Institute; Niall Harney, CCPA - Manitoba Office; Jared Blustein, The Arusha Centre Society, Calgary
Moderator: Gwen Blue, University of Calgary
Session 3: Examples of a well-being economy in practice (interactive panel)
Panelists: Amanda Janoo, Wellbeing Economy Alliance; Derek Walker, Well-being of Future Generations Commissioner, Wales; Ben Geselbracht, Nanaimo City Councillor; Lindsay Tedds, School of Public Policy and Dept of Economics, University of Calgary
Moderator: Stan Houston, University of Alberta
Session 4: Facilitated small group dialogue
Introduction: David Swann, former leader Alberta Liberal Party
Closing remarks and wrap-up: Jason Foster, Director, Parkland Institute