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The Canadian Index of Wellbeing: A New Approach to Measuring the Progress of Societies. Presented by: Alex Michalos, Director of Research. Presented to: IISD/CSIN, March 3, 2010. Measuring what Matters. Indicators are powerful
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A New Approach to
Alex Michalos, Director of Research
IISD/CSIN, March 3, 2010
If we don’t measure wellbeing, in all of its dimensions, it doesn’t count…leaving Canadians to:
A national index that will report on:
Domain Name Release date
Healthy PopulationsJune ‘09
Living Standards June ‘09
Community VitalityJune ‘09
Democratic EngagementJan ‘10
Time UseJune ‘10
Arts, Culture and RecreationJune ‘10
Environment Nov ‘10
and Composite IndexNov ‘10
To enable all Canadians to share in the highest wellbeing status by identifying, developing and publicizing statistical measures that offer clear, valid and regular reporting on progress toward wellbeing outcomes Canadians seek as a nation.
Building relationships with Canadian and International organizations
Canadian Policy Research Network (CPRN) conducted nationwide consultation on quality of life matters
National working conference establishes pan-Canadian research advisory group (CRAG)
Cross-Canada roundtables to update, engage and build network of users and champions
Expert roundtable of indicator experts and practitioners reviewed CPRN results
Cross-Canada consultations informing domain development
Toronto workshop with key partners to work on key messaging for launch
Expert roundtable convened and endorsed the development of a wellbeing tool
Latest domain report released
First Report featuring Living Standards, Healthy Populations & Community Vitality Domains
Andrew Sharpe and Jean-François Arsenault, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, Ottawa
Nazeem Muhajarine, University of Saskatchewan and Ronald Labonté, University of Ottawa
Katherine Scott, Canadian Council on Social Development, Ottawa
Lenore Swystun and Kelley Moore, Prairie Wild Consulting Co. together with Bill Holden and Heather Bernardin, HOLDEN & Associates, Saskatoon
The First Four Domain Reports
Living Standardsmeasures the quality and quantity of goods and services, both public and private, available to the population, and the distribution of these goods and services within the population.
Healthy Populationsmeasures the physical and mental health of the population – experiencing disease, disability and delaying death, people’s life circumstances, and care people receive.
Community Vitalitymeasures the strength, activity and inclusiveness of relationships among residents, private sector, public sector and civil society organizations that work to foster individual and collective wellbeing.
Democratic Engagement measures the participation of citizens in public life and in governance; the functioning of Canadian governments with respect to openness, transparency, effectiveness, fairness, equity and accessibility; and the role Canadians and their institutions play as global citizens.
Trends of four domains and average
Index percent changes
Canadians experienced a widening of income and wealth inequalities
The fight against poverty has stalled since 1981; some poverty reductions were not nearly as large as the increase in wealth inequality
Between 1981-2008, the incidence of long-term unemployment is higher now than in 1981
Since 1981, many dimensions of living standards in Canada have not improved, despite a 53.0% surge in GDP per capita
Frayed social safety net provides less support for the disadvantaged (e.g. welfare benefits, employment insurance less generous re: qualifications period, coverage, duration of benefits)
Life expectancy rates are among the best in the world; a closer look at health indicators reveals a more mixed picture
Canadians are living longer but not better
Canadians are increasingly likely to develop a chronic disease or mental illness during their lifetime
For more than a decade, merely 65% of Canadians have declared their overall health very good or excellent. Self-rated health is considerably lower than it was 10 years previously
This decline is most marked among Canadian teenagers - a drop of 11.9%
Health disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians have narrowed somewhat but still remain unacceptably large
Higher incomes and higher levels of education are associated with longer life expectancy and better self-reported health.
The positive impact of income and education is most marked among women
Canadians have strong social relationships with their families and communities
Positive trend of most of the indicators suggests that the wellbeing of Canadians, as measured by the quality of their relationships, is improving over time.
We are well-equipped to deal with current and future challenges
The size of Canadian’s social networks has declined since the mid 1990s; Canadians are reporting smaller numbers of close relatives and close friends
A growing number of Canadians report that they provide help to others (83% of Canadians in 2004)
Over half of Canadians believe that people can generally be trusted
In 2004, 4.1% of Canadians reported experiencing discrimination because of their ethnicity, race, culture, skin colour, religion or language, a decline from 7.1% in 2002; significantly higher for visible minorities
Fewer Canadians are voting. Turnout in the most recent federal election, in 2008, was the lowest in Canadian history at 59.1%, down more than 10 percentage points from 1993.
Participation rates in formal political activities are extremely low. The number of people volunteering for law, advocacy and political groups has hovered at about 2% or less throughout the past decade, and hours volunteered dropped by 15% from 2004 to 2007.
Canadians aren’t satisfied with their democracy. Between 40-45% said they were not satisfied with how democracy works in Canada. (2004 and 2006 surveys)
An overwhelming majority of people say that federal government policies have not made their lives better. Only 12% said their lives had been improved by federal policies when last surveyed in 2006.
Women and minorities are underrepresented in the political process. Since 1997, the percentage of women in Parliament has remained relatively steady – and low – at about 20%.
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