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Quality-of-Life Indicators

This section provides links to relevant quality-of-life indicators that have been developed nationally and internationally.  They represent evaluative data that have been produced to assess progress against a certain social problem or to determine the state of our collective well-being. 

Canadian Index of Wellbeing
The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), housed within the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, has created a conceptual framework – informed by Canadians on what matters to them – to comprehensively and effectively measure Canadians’ wellbeing. It provides insights into our standard of living, our health, the quality of our environment, our education and skill levels, the way we use our time, the vitality of our communities, our participation in the democratic process, and the state of our leisure and culture. The CIW released its first national index report in 2011, first provincial index report (for Ontario) in 2014; and since 2012, has completed several community wellbeing surveys. With Canadians’ wellbeing growing much more slowly than Canada’s economic productivity, as measured by GDP, the CIW advances the dialogue around what constitutes a higher quality of life, and offers evidence our country, provinces, and communities need to build a more equitable society.
See the two-page article “Why Canada Needs the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)”
Index of Economic Well-Being
In 1998 the Centre for the Study of Living Standards developed the Index of Economic Well-being. It comprises the following four domains of economic well-being:
  • effective per capita consumption flows, including consumption of marketed goods and services, government services, effective per-capita flows of household production, leisure, and changes in life span
  • net societal accumulation of stocks of productive resources, including net accumulation of tangible capital, housing stocks, net changes in the value of natural resources stocks, environmental costs, net changes in the level of foreign indebtedness, accumulation of human capital, and the stock of R&D investment
  • income distribution, including the intensity of poverty (incidence and depth) and the inequality of income
  • economic security from job loss and unemployment, illness, family breakup and poverty in old age.
Links on the web page bring readers to the most recent research produced by the CSLS using the Index of Economic Well-being.
Quality of Life Reporting System
A program of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Quality of Life Reporting System (QOLRS) measures, monitors and reports on social, economic and environmental trends in 26 of Canada's medium and large cities and communities. By providing evidence of important trends taking place across the municipal sector, the QOLRS helps to ensure that municipal government is a strong partner in formulating public policy in Canada. Relying on data from a variety of sources, the QOLRS contains hundreds of variables that measure changes in 10 domains. The reporting system is also used to publish thematic reports, which examine specific local trends. Taken together, these trends form issues of national importance.
Social Interactions, Identity & Well-Being
Social Interactions, Identity & Well-Being is a program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research that brings together world-leading researchers in economics, public policy, social psychology and sociology. The program examines how identity and social relationships contribute to health, happiness and well-being, extending traditional economic models to include identity and social interactions. Fellows regularly participate in forums with leaders in community or public service to share insights and develop new thinking on a host of social issues, from education access, aging, mental health, poverty, and more. Researchers in this CIFAR program, such as John Helliwell, have led the development of the WHR (now in its 3rd edition), which is guiding leaders in local and national government to adopt indicators of well-being in their assessment of their societal progress.
UNICEF Index of Child Well-being
UNICEF's Index of Child Well-being compares the world's most affluent nations using policy-relevant indicators of child well-being, including the perspectives of children and youth. It reveals that nations with similar economic means achieve widely different outcomes for children. While every nation attains better results in some areas than others, the top-performing nations typically allocate more resources to children and have strong early years policies and programs. The Index underlines the importance of gathering child-specific data in order to ensure that investment and policy decisions are responsive to children's needs. Its unique insights into Canada's performance are informing public debate, policy dialogue, and new investments and programs for children.
Vital Signs
Vital Signs is a national program led by community foundations and coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada that leverages local knowledge to measure the vitality of our communities and supports action towards improving our quality of life. Started by the Toronto Foundation in 2001, today more than 70 communities across Canada and around the world use Vital Signs to mobilize the power of community knowledge for greater local impact. October 2015 saw the release of Belonging: Exploring Connection to Community.
The World Happiness Report
Edited by John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffry Sachs
Sustainable Development Solutions Network
The World Happiness Report contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience and national statistics, and describes how measurements of subjective well-being can be used to assess national progress effectively. The firstWorld Happiness Report, released in 2012 ahead of the United Nations high-level meeting on Happiness and Well-being, drew international attention as a landmark first survey of the state of global happiness. The latest report, published in 2015, looks at country trends since the first report, regional indicators, variations by gender and age, and the importance of investing in social capital. The report demonstrates that well-being and happiness are critical indicators of a nation’s development, and should be a key aim of policy.
Canadians Are Happy and Getting Happier:
An Overview of Life Satisfaction in Canada, 2003-2011

September 2012
Andrew Sharpe and Evan Capeluck
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
Released by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, this paper presents an update and overview of trends in self-reported life satisfaction in Canada, based on data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS).
The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the
Canadian Provinces and Territories, 2000-2011

May 2012
Elspeth Hazell, Kar-Fai Gee and Andrew Sharpe
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
This report develops internationally comparable estimates of the Human Development Index (HDI) for the Canadian provinces and territories over the 2000-2011 period. The HDI is a composite index composed of three dimensions (life expectancy, education and income) measured by four indicators (life expectancy at birth, average years of education, expected years of schooling and GNI per capita).

Please send us links to other relevant documents and websites.

The Caledon Institute of Social Policy