Canadian Index of Wellbeing Comes with Mixed ResultsBusiness in Toronto / Ontario, Call Centre, Economic News, News, Toronto News | Desi Cabrera | October 27, 2011 at 12:01 am
Recently I wrote about this years’ annual Toronto Vital Signs 2011 report, where the strengths and deficiencies in the city were identified and explored. Previous to that we covered when our city placed 9th greenest in North America, and when it ranked 4th as the most liveable city on the global list. We also featured Toronto coming in 2nd as a ‘City of Opportunity’ and when it took the top spot in the CIBC World Markets’ Metropolitan Economic Activity Index Ratings. We are clearly proud of our city and today I’m writing about a report on Canada that is the first of its kind worldwide.
The Canadian Index of Wellbeing is unique on many fronts but one of them is that it assesses conditions in eight main domains across Canada including Community Vitality, Democratic Engagement, Education, Healthy Populations, Leisure & Culture, Living Standards and Time Use.
Initially funded by The Atkinson Charitable Foundation, the report has been in the works since 1999 and is currently based in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo. Compiled with reputable statistical resources from 1994 to 2008 by hundreds of experts and organizations in many fields, the report analyzes conditions in the 8 domains and 64 headline indicators surrounding overall well being and quality of life.
Generally, long standing economic ratings like the GPD have often been used to measure the state of a country’s economy and standard of living. However, as is usually the case with objective ratings based on concrete statistics, subjective areas become muddled and cannot always be given a tangible rating that defines the state of the area being measured. While the GPD can experience growth, this does not translate accurately to the state in which the wellbeing of citizens is in. For example, natural disasters and war can positively affect the GPD, where in both instances an increase in GPD does not mean an increase in wellbeing. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing adequately and reliably measures progress of Canadian life quality in a comprehensive way.
Key findings of the report include:
· An overall improvement of 11.1% in Canadian wellbeing for the reporting period (1994 to 2008)
· 39 out of 64 headline indicators showed improvements or positive change
· 25 out of 64 headline indicators showed deterioration or negative change
Top 3 Domains that experienced an increase include:
- Living Standards +26.4%
- Community Vitality +20.7%, and
- Democratic Engagement +19.3%
Bottom 3 Domains that experienced deterioration include:
- Leisure and Culture -3.0%
- Time Use -0.6%, and
- Environment -0.3%.
Note that overall, we experienced larger gains, while deterioration has been minimal.
Top 5 Headline Indicators include:
- 160.4% decrease of labour force with long-term unemployment
- 106.6% increase reporting that federal government policies made them better off
- 83.3% decrease daily or occasional smokers among teens aged 12 to 19 years
- 66.7% increase in the ratio of childcare spaces to children aged 0 to 5 years
- 60.7% increase in the Viable Non-Renewable Energy Reserves Index
Bottom 5 Headline Indicators:
- 49.2% increase in people reporting that they had diabetes
- 37.3% decrease in the Viable Metal Reserves Index
- 25.6% decrease in net Official Development Aid as a percentage of gross national income
- 23.8% decrease in the Canadian Living Planet Index
- 21.4% decrease in average visitation per site in the past year to all national parks and national historic sites
In comparison to the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, the Canadian GPD grew substantially in the same 15 year period. It seems however, that quality of life amongst Canadians is a mixed bag where more seem to be working longer hours and reporting higher levels of time pressure and participating much less in the arts, cultural events, social, leisure, and recreational activities, indicating a work-life imbalance exists. Notable areas of progress in the report include a declining crime rate, an increase in high school graduation and life expectancy rates.
One final point of interest is that this report covers a period leading to September 2008 when the economic outlook took a turn for the worst. It will be interesting to see how the recession and the recent economic climate affects future editions of this report. As this is the inaugural edition for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, the report will likely evolve as researchers build upon the index over the next few years to make it even more concise and complete.
Reports of this nature are important as they identify areas of strength, while highlighting areas that require improvements that we can focus on in improving in our life as well and the lives of those in our community and across the country. At 92-pages, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing is a long-ish read but well-worth the time. ________________________________________________________________________________________
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