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On hope and seeking common cause in 2024

We can’t make systemic changes without looking at the system.

January 3, 2024

2-minute read

Four years ago, COVID-19 thrust us into a jolting reality: the world shut down in March 2020.

For a moment in time, the world was on the same page. Shelter in place, if you can. Social distance. Social bubbles. Health care s/heroes.

So much has transpired since then. Collectively, we seem to have turned a page. But we haven’t all landed on the same page. Some days it’s hard to imagine what we might agree upon anymore.

Here at the Monitor, we are in search of truth, fairness, equality—and common cause.

Surely we can all agree on the premise of a well-being economy. This edition of the Monitor delivers insights from a June 2023 conference—An economy for everyone: mobilizing and implementing a well-being economy in Alberta—hosted by the Parkland Institute, a non-partisan research centre in Edmonton.

What is a well-being economy anyway? It’s really about investing in the root causes that improve our health and well-being (the determinants of health), which we call upstream thinking.

Which led us to this Monitor cover concept: An image of the rocky mountains in Alberta, with a river or stream running through it, beautifully illustrated by artist Tim Zeltner.

Inside this issue, conference participants share the key takeaways from their June event. Lindsay McLaren, CCPA research associate and Think Upstream research network chair, did yeoman’s work coordinating and co-authoring this month’s themed section.

The authors shine a light on intersecting societal challenges and their common root causes: such as the need for more affordable housing, the climate crisis, the negative impacts of colonialism on Indigenous Peoples.

As Lindsay McLaren and Rebecca Graff-McRae write: “Much public and political discourse focuses on these (and other) problems one at a time. A piecemeal approach aligns well with the siloed nature of (colonial) governments. However, it has considerable drawbacks: it leads to policy incoherence, where activities in one policy domain offset or undermine those in another.”

They show examples of jurisdictions that are implementing doughnut economics frameworks—an economy that prioritizes well-being and sustainability.

Stan Houston, Lindsay McLaren, and Rebecca Graff-McRae drill down on what a well-being economic framework looks like in practice. They illustrate that these aren’t ‘pie in the sky’ ideas—alternatives are possible.

Bob Ascah and Lindsay McLaren write about the role of financialization in exacerbating inequality and the climate crisis. They show how public banking is a viable alternative.

A lot of what we do at the Monitor—and at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)—is to connect the dots; to help everyone understand we can’t tackle problems in silos and we certainly can’t make systemic changes without looking at the system.

While we continue to take a critical lens to the challenges of our times, we also hold on to hope. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”


As we enter a new year, with new challenges, we will be making a change at the Monitor and we want you to understand our decision-making process.

Charities across the sector are experiencing financial challenges and, unfortunately, the CCPA is no exception. We are facing a double whammy of inflation and the downturn in individual contributions after COVID-19 forced economic shutdowns across the country.

For the Monitor, production costs (postage, printing, paper etc.) have increased by 68 per cent since 2020 alone.

Rest assured, we remain committed to publishing the Monitor and sending it to your mailbox. There’s nothing like holding a magazine in your hand. However, we have made the difficult decision to produce the Monitor on a quarterly basis in order to cut costs.

What this means for you, dear reader: We value your support for the Monitor. We will continue to mail the Monitor to anyone who donates $35 or more. You will receive a (soon!) slightly expanded Monitor four times a year: In January, April, July, and October 2024. An electronic version will be on our website at no cost so that a broad audience can continue to read our thought-provoking articles. And, of course, we continue to provide regular content on our blog and website.

At a time when news publications are closing across Canada, the Monitor still stands—thanks to you and your support. We hope you continue to enjoy our unique magazine and we look forward, as always, to hearing from you.

Topics addressed in this article

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