Is Canada the best place to live?
A look into what we're doing wrong.
The economy's motives are not what they should be. Our economy demands for more and doesn't strive for better. An evident example of this is products in Canada are made to break easily, so that we dispose of them quickly after a short time.
Consumers make huge contributions to the Canadian economy, just by buying by the products they need. The truth is, they don't need half of what they buy. Since products don't break fast enough for the economy to be continuously building, there is perceived obsolescence, which urges people to throw away their things (although they're in good condition) to meet the needs of trends and fashion. Due to ads, we believe that the more things we have, the happier we'll be (The Story Of Solutions).
In the graph above is the global happiness index. We are ranked the 5th happiest country in the world. As you can see, one of the biggest portions that has contributed to our happiness is the GDP, but the economy isn't what truly makes people happy.
To truly find solutions to the problems we are facing as a society, we must consider these factors and see if the solution:
- Gives people more power
- Opens people's eyes to the truth of happiness
- Accounts for all the costs it creates (on both people and the environment)
- Lessens the wealth gap (between the people who can't meet their basic needs, and those who spend more than they need to).
The economy is one of the major reasons we are overusing our resources, because our primary industries create jobs. Agriculture, for instance, accounts for 20% of jobs in Canada.
The main primary industries are:
Forestry has many negative impacts on the environment. Clear-cutting causes roots to lose the ability to hold water causing them to die which then leads to the erosion of top soil and flooding. Another problem in the forestry industry is that pesticides cause damage to the environment, especially to wildlife. An example of this includes DDT, which is a long last pesticide that can harm wildlife.
In the fishing industry, over fishing is a big issue since it causes a decline in fish population. Over exploitation of a resource means using the resource faster then it can be replenished. Over exploitation is what led cod to be over fished and lead to the collapse of the fishing industry in the 1980s.
Mining is very detrimental to the environment because abandoned mines leave scars on the land and continue to be sources of pollution in the form of mine waste.
Farming is also an issue to the environment because there are also many other issues:
- Wastefully using water (overuse,, which drains freshwater from streams and lakes)
- Pollution (from pesticide use and fertilizers)
The main issues regarding agriculture are habitat loss and climate change. About 50% of the world's natural habitats have been turned into agricultural land. Due to the high demand for food and agricultural products, clearing of natural habitats has occurred (which leads to soil erosion). As for climate change, agricultural .practices account for approximately 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The way Canada extracts its oil isn't very wise because they get the oil from oil sands which is more complicated then drilling oil. This has many bad effects on the environment because it destroys roots of trees and prevents the growth of those that have been cut in order to get the oil. If the environment is altered to a far enough extent that the environment can no longer support its native species, it's called habitat change. Habitat change is the most common cause for the decline in the populations of species. Habitat change occurs for many reasons all involving how humans changed the habitat. This includes practices involving forestry, agriculture, as well as urban development such as urban sprawl (Sandner 54)
After the oil is extracted, the excess oil is dumped into tailings ponds where it leaks to nearby rivers, which directly affects fish. From there the oil can seep into the ground and flow into aquifers, becoming part of our ground water. This results in an unsafe amount of arsenic in Alberta's water supply, having the potential to cause cancer. Another problem the oil sands pose is pollution, which makes climate change worse.
The Canadian government has developed a car dependent society which results in pollution. Pollution contributes to climate change. Climate change affects the average temperatures in a region and the amount of precipitation. Species that cannot survive in certain conditions will die which is an issue that occurs in the fishing industry.
Also the economy largely affects the environment in other ways such as the choices the government makes. For example, if it weren't for the economy the government would choose more environment friendly resources. This is because fossil fuels is the energy source most frequently used in Canada for its abundant availability, cheap extraction and easy storage. Fossil fuels have negative impacts on human health which is caused by pollution from the burning of coal. It also damages land from coal mining and negatively affects the health of miners such as causing them lung disease. The environment is damaged because of acid rain and water pollution (Keil lessons, 2015).
One of the gases emitted when fossil fuels are burned is carbon dioxide, which traps heat in the earths atmosphere making it a huge contributor to climate change. In fact, burning fossil fuels is responsible for more than 25% increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Acid rain affects trees ability to grow which is caused by factors nearby. As water washes through mines, it forms acid which is then washed into rivers, lakes and streams. Furthermore, coal mining affects the area that is being mined. After mining is finished, the land cannot be replanted on unless special precautions are taken.
The overall trend here is that the main cause of global warming, which leads to climate change, is pollution. Humans also have many other negative impacts on ecosystems. Various types of human activity have decreased all or most levels of biodiversity, which includes genetic diversity. The major causes of the decrease in biodiversity (as discussed above) are:
- Habitat Change
- Over exploitation
- Invasive species
- Climate Change
Climate change causes Earth's water systems to be unbalanced, which has negative effects on climate, habitats, health, and society. Some effects it has on water systems include:
- it melts the frozen water on Earth
- Oceans are becoming more acidic
Climate change makes extreme weather, this is because of the increased evaporation of water which causes rising sea levels. It affects animals and their habitat because it can get rid of things that are essential for their survival. For example, animals in the arctic need ice but it's vanishing. Many species in the arctic are becoming endangered due to the animals being ice dependent such as the polar bear.
Furthermore agriculture is being affected by climate change in many ways including unpredictable water supply due to shifting weather. Mild winters and longer summers allow tree killing insects to thrive. Trees are weakened by drought. Climate change affects our health because warmer air increases smog, smog is a major trigger of asthma attacks.
International trade also has other negative impacts on the environment. The Great Lakes' are a part of a shipping route, and when ships travel in these waters, they can release non-native species, also called invasive species, with their ballast water. Invasive species cause harm to the ecosystem which it has entered because they don't have predators in that new ecosystem, or they reproduce faster than native species. Either way, as a result, the population of the invasive species will increase quickly, whereas native species' population declines.
Climate is one of the many reasons that Canada isn't the best place to live in, because the places people favor to settle in are further south, mostly in Ontario and B.C, which does not even make up for half of the country. This means that the populations of certain areas will be more dense than others. This has a negative impact on Canada because it promotes urban sprawl, What I mean by this is that since lots of people are moving to these provinces with big cities (due to the favorable climates), urban areas will continue to develop. Also, at least half of Canada's soil is infertile and unsuitable for farming and these regions are the boreal and taiga forest as well as the tundra. The boreal and taiga forest has wet climate soil and the tundra has very little humus in its soil, the soil is very thing, and there is permafrost (Keil lessons, 2015).
"It’s not just the weather itself that can have serious consequences, but also the rapid transitions between weather types or the long durations of any one particular type that occur from time to time" (Environment and Climate Change Canada).
Urban sprawl is low density development within a city. It is caused by people disliking housing density, which is because of the preference for large houses and lawns. This is caused by ads and media sending a message that we need these things, known as perceived obsolescence.
The government plays a huge role in building urban communities. Land owners and developers promote their personal interests, which is to make money. If the government invests in smart growth, although it would benefit our health and the environment, it would make the economy suffer.
Smart growth negatively affects the economy because sidewalks and bike paths deprive residents of lawn space, which people desire. This decreases the property value. The government would rather keep making lots of money, than have people living in cities live healthy lives. This is why they don't bring people's attention to the consequences of urban sprawl.
- Waste of fertile land
- Lack of trees
- Lack of clean air
Urban sprawl is lessening the amount of usable farmland and green space we have. Not only is this bad for the environment, but nature is one of the things that makes us truly happy, and we are destroying it by building over it. Also, we are building over wild lands as well, which puts habitats and species at risk (Keil, 2016)
An increased car-dependent society means more carbon emissions and pollution, which contributes to climate change. It also means more cars on the road, leading to traffic congestion.
- less of a sense of community
- increased car use
It is proven that if people know their neighbors, they feel safe where they life. In urban areas, it's not often you know the people around you.
Increased car use puts more stress on people, and makes us less healthy. Air pollution resulting from car exhaust is directly related to respiratory diseases, such as asthma and lung cancer. Also, exercise is a crucial part of things such as weight control and cardiovascular function. People don't get many opportunities to walk to places so they have health issues. In addition, runoff fluid from cars can go into our surface water and affect water quality.
Another big issue that exists because of the government is harmful things being put in our food
- Genetically modified foods
Genetically modified foods are bad for our health. For example, farmers put certain genes of fish into tomatoes, to make them shiny. This is because people tend to buy things that are visually appealing. This is especially true for children which is why ads are made colorful
Farmers are feeding cows corn because it's cheap. There is E coli in the beef, and all the farmers have to do to kill the E coli is let the cows eat grass for five days, but instead, they put ammonia in the beef because it's more efficient. E coli is a bad bacteria that can give us infections if it enters our system. Our government cares more about saving money than our health, and our environment.
These aren't the only examples where the government has lied to people. In the video, H2O oil, it stated that there are government officials who used to work for oil companies that are still being paid by the oil companies. These people might make decisions for their own benefit rather than the peoples benefit. The government has also lied to many people about the harms of the Alberta oil sands. For example, industries say that they will store the soil and put it back later, the problem is that when you store a natural resource it will eventually die and cannot be used again.
Residential Schools are another mistake that the Canadian government made, it is part of our history. They treated first nations people very poorly and as a result left a huge impact on their society as well as our history.
Canada's immigration system is a crucial source of people to Canada, and will continue to be with our aging population and the potential threat of our total population declining in the future. For this reason, the requirements to be able to immigrate to Canada shouldn't be as harsh as it is, since benefits come to those who enter Canada, and to our country as a whole.
Canada has an aging population which means that there are more people will be more people in the dependency load (people 14 and under as well as 65 and older) in the coming decades. See Figure 2 and 3. Our aging population is a result of good health care, and a sufficient food supply, because less children are needed, since very few will die. It is also because of family planning, birth control, and other factors that will reduce the necessity for lots of children. Canada is in the stage on the Demographic Transition Model where few children are needed, stage 4. As people are having less and less children, Canada is gradually heading towards the direction of stage 5. where the birth rate is lower than the death rate (Keil lessons, 2015).
The immigration system is unfair because:
- We expect too much of immigrants
- Refugees can be denied acceptance
- Limited number of immigrants gain entrance
Economic immigrants, those that are evaluated under the point system, need to score a certain amount of points to be permitted entrance to Canada, which are obtained through a variety of ways depending on whether you are a business class immigrant or a skill worker. Skilled workers need to score higher in categories that include the ability to speak English and French, education, work experience, and arranged employment).
Expecting this much from Canada's immigrants isn't fair because immigrants leave their home countries in hopes of gaining these things in Canada, since this must have been unattainable in their native countries. In fact, some push factors for immigrants to come to Canada are:
- lack of job opportunities
- poor education
If work experience and a good education is what skilled workers wish to gain from coming to Canada, we can't expect for them to have these things in advance. To be exact, skilled workers are required a minimum of 4 years of work experience, and 17 years of education (or the equivalent in foreign education). Skilled workers are essential to Canada since they help support the manufacturing industry, which is important to Canada's economy because it a huge contributor to the gross domestic product, employment, and exports.
Business class immigrants don't have to score as much in the point system, but that doesn't mean that the system is any more lenient on them. Immigrants classified as business are required to make an big contribution to Canada's economy, by establishing a business, buying a business, or make an investment in something that will create a minimum of one job. This isn't fair because if they had the money to do this, they wouldn't immigrate to Canada since they would have already been earning money to support their families before they came to Canada.
Refugees aren't evaluated with the point system, but they still don't have guaranteed approval, despite the terrible circumstances they are fleeing their own countries for. Only 1 in 10 refugees are accepted and furthermore, they can be denied asylum, This can occur if a refugee has been convicted of a criminal offense, or if they have any problems regarding their health, which both involve the issues of their native country. A major push factor for an immigrant is poor health care, so it's no doubt that they might have health problems. Refugees emigrate to lead new lives, ones that are free of what they feared in their home country, but they can't do this if they're constantly being scrutinized for things they did in their home country. It should be our responsibility to help them through this difficult transition.
Canada takes in few immigrants compared to our total population. See Figure 1 below.
This is because of the false ideas the government has put into our citizens heads.
Canadians believe that if we accept immigrants during poor economic times, they might take jobs from people who are already here, as if they would compete with Canadians for jobs that are limited, since many people would be applying for a job at the time. It's not at all like that though; immigrants get jobs that are unwanted by Canadians.
Also, our government seems to think that urban areas can be home to an indefinite number of people, which has turned areas into crowded and grid-locked areas. This continuous expansion of urban areas is known as urban sprawl (Immigration Watch).
Another major issue occurring in Canadian society is discrimination against First Nations. The purpose of the Indian Act was to give First Nations special rights, but it was changed a lot since it was first created to benefit Canada more than it benefited them. Then finally in 1999, it was revised so that they were allowed to self-govern themselves on some level without getting rid of the Indian Act. The Indian Act has brought many stereotypes and discrimination towards the First Nations (such as the fact that they don't pay taxes) but it won't be abolished, as the alternative is unclear. If there is all this discrimination towards Aboriginals, there will be discrimination towards other cultures as well. This isn't a pleasant environment to be in as a person immigrating to Canada.
This graph shows the number of immigrants we take in compared to our total population.
We are currently in stage 4 of the Demographic Transition Model and need more immigrants due to our aging population.
Since Canadians aren't having as much children as before, in the coming decades, there will be less people in the workforce than those in the dependency load.
Mrs. Keil lessons, 2015
Leonard, Annie. "The Story of Stuff." The Story Of Stuff Project. N.p., 01 Dec. 2007. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. <http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/>.
Leonard, Annie. "The Story of Solutions - The Story of Stuff Project." The Story of Stuff Project. N.p., 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. <http://storyofstuff.org/movies/the-story-of-solutions/>.
Mrs. Keil lessons, 2015
Walsh, Shannon. "H2Oil." IMDb. IMDb.com, 8 May 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1337497/?ref_=fn_al_tt_>.
Alberta Oil Sands Blog
Sandner, Lionel, and Clayton Ellis. "Human Use of Ecosystems." Investigating Science 9. Don Mills, ON: Pearson Canada, 2009. N. pag. Print.
"Farming: Habitat Conversion & Loss." Farming: Habitat Conversion & Loss. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/impacts/habitat_loss/>.
"Farming: Climate Change." Farming: Climate Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/impacts/climate_change/>.
Esty, Daniel, and Maria Ivanova. "Globalization and Environmental Protection: A Global Governance Perspective." A Handbook of Globalization and Environmental Policy (n.d.): n. pag. 23-25 Oct. 2003. Web. 15 Jan. 2016. <http://www.yale.edu/gegdialogue/docs/dialogue/oct03/papers/Esty-Ivanova.pdf>.
The Hidden Cost of Fossil Fuels." Union of Concerned Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2016. <http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/the-hidden-cost-of-fossil.html#.VpwtS9q9KK0>.
"Winter Severe Weather. Be Prepared." Environment and Climate Change Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2016. <https://www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=D2F64537-1
"Climate Change Impacts." Environmental Defense Fund. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2016. <https://www.edf.org/climate/climate-change-impacts>.
Alberta Oil Sands Blog
Thompson, Nancy. "Root Causes of Urban Sprawl." Root Causes of Urban Sprawl. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2016. <http://www.useful-community-development.org/causes-of-urban-sprawl.html>.
"Discourage Urban Sprawl." David Suzuki Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2016. <http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/reduce-your-carbon-footprint/discourage-urban-sprawl/>.
Resnik, David B. "Urban Sprawl, Smart Growth, and Deliberative Democracy." American Journal of Public Health. American Public Health Association, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2936977/>.
"What's Wrong with Our Food System." Birke Baehr:. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. <https://www.ted.com/talks/birke_baehr_what_s_wrong_with_our_food_system?language=en>.
Canada's Immigration System Blog
"Six Selection Factors – Federal Skilled Workers." Government of Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Communications Branch. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2016. <http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/apply-factors.asp>.
"Unjustified Immigration Levels Against Public’s Wishes." Immigration Watch Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.immigrationwatchcanada.org/2015/11/22/unjustified-immigration-levels-against-publics-wishes/>.
Au, Eilsa. "Importance of the Manufacturing Se Ctor to the Canadian Economy." (2004): n. pag. Web. 15 Jan. 2016. <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11f0024m/pdf/papers-etudes/4224995-eng.pdf>.