Canadian Index of Wellbeing

Canadian Index of Wellbeing infographic

How are you doing? How is your quality of life? And, how is your government measuring your quality of life?

Around the world, there are governments making efforts to measure the genuine wellbeing and happiness of their people when they find that GDP (Gross Domestic Product or the market value of the stuff produced) doesn’t give an accurate measurement of what really counts. How a country counts its worth and value says a lot.

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) was created over the past 12 years by scholars, government officials, and other experts to create “a holistic, integrated approach to measuring wellbeing.” Right now, they are measuring eight domains of wellbeing:

  • Democratic Engagement
  • Community Vitality
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Healthy Populations
  • Leisure and Culture
  • Living Standards
  • Time Use

The CIW Network has issued their first CIW composite index, something like you would expect from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to give a snapshot of Canadian quality of life. Hearing that there is a rise of 11% might not mean much yet, but maybe it will in time. They have found that, though the GDP has risen, wellbeing is not rising as quickly. Wellbeing is falling in the areas of Environment, Time Use, and Leisure & Culture.

One of the most interesting points I have found in the CIW is the encouragement of partnerships, including regional partnerships. The first community user has been The Barrie Community Health Centre, which is quite close to bynature.ca in Orillia. This local group includes the county government, the United Way, the local community college, the public health unit, an environment network, and the school board who have come together as The Resilience Collaborative.

“Whenever the CIW produces a national report on a specific wellbeing domain, the Collaborative piggy-backs its own report onto it that compares regional data to the national data and makes suggestions for local policy changes. So, for example, when the CIW released the Environment Domain Report in April 2011, the Collaborative released its own report the same day.” CIW

This is just one idea from CIW how the index can be used. They also suggest ways individuals can use the index. I’ll write more about that later this week. In the meantime, how can you see governments, community groups, and others using the index to improve quality of life?