A better way than dollars and cents to measure success

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A better way than dollars and cents to measure success

By Nancy Watson

Published by The Chronicle Herald 

June 26, 2018 


Today, Engage Nova Scotia released the Nova Scotia Quality of Life Index report, available online at https://www.nsqualityoflife.ca/. It looks at how Nova Scotia compares to Canada as a whole across 60 indicators of well-being between 1994 and 2014.

For many of us in Nova Scotia, quality of life is a point of pride.  We are surrounded by beauty, we take time to have fun and we care about how our neighbours are doing.

Those are the things that matter, we say. Success is about more than just dollars and cents.

But not everyone has access to those good things. Some Nova Scotians are more worried about putting food on the table than planning a picnic on the beach.

So what if – as a complement to economic indicators – we measured what we treasure across a broader range of areas: like time with family and friends, and feeling supported in our communities? Would we make better decisions? Might we find new ways to work with each other? Would fewer people get left behind?

We think those are questions worth asking.

That’s why Engage is working with a range of partners, in conjunction with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, to co-ordinate a multi-year Quality of Life Initiative – one that will see us examine a wide range of topics that matter to Nova Scotians, so they can be measured, tracked and improved.

Traditionally, much of the information we use to make decisions that affect our daily lives is based exclusively on economic data. Those data are not wrong – they are just incomplete. With this initiative, we are working to advance a comprehensive framework for measuring and improving the daily lives of all Nova Scotians.

Perhaps we will find, in some areas, that we are richer than we think. Undoubtedly, we will find room for improvement.

It does not provide the definitive word on how to assess progress in any of the eight domains studied. It is intended as a starting point for important conversations about what we value. As such, we will let the data speak for itself, and encourage others to learn from it.

It’s important to emphasize that we are not the sole holders of this initiative. We are actively partnering with governments, educators, businesses, community organizations and inspired individuals who care about the future of this province, and who understand the degree to which our aspirations are interdependent.

Many groups and individuals are working tirelessly with and on behalf of people whose quality of life has been short-changed – often because of systemic barriers. We hope this initiative strengthens their efforts and encourages new people to get involved.

Our approach builds on the pioneering work of GPI Atlantic in Nova Scotia, which was among the first to recognize the need for a more comprehensive measure of success. That imperative is one that is now echoed by global organizations like the United Nations, the OECD and the International Monetary Fund. We think that the time is right for us to reinvigorate our commitment to research and to bring together a wider coalition of partners to ensure those efforts are sustained.

The Nova Scotia Quality of Life Index report is just the first step. It is intended to spark your imagination, foster serious conversations and prompt new collaborations that help us become a more vibrant, inclusive and resilient province.

The next step – scheduled for Spring 2019 – will be to survey Nova Scotians on their actual experiences and perceptions in each of the eight domain areas. This will give us an unprecedented wealth of up-to-date data that can guide our decision-making for years to come.

We invite you to read this report, share it with other thoughtful Nova Scotians and use it as a starting point for taking stock of where we are now and imagining where we want to be in the future.

For more information, to offer feedback or make suggestions,  please contact us at info@engagenovascotia.ca.

Nancy M. Watson is managing director, Engage Nova Scotia

Read the original article in The Chronicle Herald 

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