A Genuine Progress Index (GPI) is a set of measures that indicate improvements
or deterioration in a variety of factors related to social, environmental
and economic circumstances. It is a far more detailed account of how well
a country or community is doing than the present measure of GDP, which accounts
only for the amount of money being spent in a territory.
The Canada Well-Being Measurement Act emerged from an all candidate's debate in 1997 when the Green Party candidate Peter Bevan-Baker presented the Party's policy for a GPI. Joe Jordan, the Liberal candidate, was genuinely interested and asked for more details. When Mr. Jordan won the seat, he invited Peter to his office to discuss proposing the measure as a private member's bill.
After four years of consulting with concerned citizens, people active in well-being measurement, and the Legislative Council assigned to Mr. Jordan's initiative, the Canada Well-Being Measurement Actwas introduced in the House of Commons.
The 36th parliament ended before the proposal was selected for private member's business. With the act already drafted, however, Mr. Jordan introduced it within a month of the opening of the next parliament and on June 2nd, 2003, it came up for discussion. In the transcript of the debate, much support was expressed. The only arguments against the proposal were rhetorical. Some Block Quebecois members expressed concern that it was proposed from English Canada and some Alliance members expressed weariness of anything Liberal.
By the time Joe's Act was finally drawn, the protocol for private member's business had been changed to accept only motions. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass, the key paragraph from the Act was incorporated into a motion stating: "That, in the opinion of this House, the government should develop and report annually on a set of social, environmental and economic indicators of the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada."
The next day, The House of Commons voted 185 to 46 in favour of the motion.
Unfortunately, the Government did not act on Parliament's recommendation.