As the financial crisis continues to unfold and talk of a recession increases, the economy will be an important prism through which Canadians filter information in the run-up to the federal election. While health care, the environment and social justice continue to top the lists of priorities for Canadians, there are some who will attempt to argue that narrow economic issues are more important as voters approach the ballot box. They will argue that our social concerns must be set aside to deal with the so-called fundamentals of economic stability and growth. But it’s not just the economy that really matters. Indeed, the best way to build a healthy economy is to build strong and healthy communities.
Strong public systems and increased public investment in health and social development do not impede economic growth. In fact, they are key ingredients for economic growth and stability – offering what can best be called the Health Economic Advantage. Without this advantage, we jeopardize our chances for economic growth. Increased social investment in health care, child care, income security, affordable homes and other measures to build a fair and inclusive society are not only best for individual men, women and children and therefore the right thing to do. They are also an economically sound strategy for Canada.