New Ontario index puts wellbeing at the forefront

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

With its first Ontario-focused study released today, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) at the University of Waterloo analyzes how well people in the province are really doing in the areas of their lives that matter the most.

How are Ontarians really doing? Canadian Index of Wellbeing report (PDF)Using the same approach that assessed quality of life for all Canadians in its previous 2012 report, the CIW focuses on the residents of Ontario in its new study commissioned by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Among its findings, the report entitled, “How Are Ontarians Really Doing?" (PDF) reveals that over a 17-year period, GDP in Ontario has grown almost four times more than our overall wellbeing.

"One of the goals of the CIW is to spark political dialogue and action," said Bryan Smale, director of the CIW. "The findings and recommendations are meant to help shape a vision for a better society regardless of political affiliation."

Even though Ontario and Canada show very similar increases in overall wellbeing at 7.3 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively, how they got there is different. In Ontario, the strongest growth has been in education (36.0 per cent) and community vitality (15.4 per cent), showing Ontarians are well positioned to adapt to future challenges. The largest decline was a drop of 5.9 per cent in leisure and culture. Historically, people have fiercely protected the time and money they spend on their free-time pursuits. Seen across all income levels, this dip goes beyond belt-tightening due to the recession.

OTF invests more than $100 million in non-profit organizations annually.  “In order to evaluate the impact of those investments, the Foundation will use the CIW as both a measurement framework and a baseline," said Andrea Barrack Cohen, CEO of the OTF. "A rigorous approach to measurement will help OTF generate the greatest impact with its investments.”

Measuring wellbeing consistently and comprehensively over time can help governments to develop and improve policies, companies to improve productivity, organizations to innovate, and people across Ontario and the rest of Canada to live more satisfying lives. The report encourages everyone to find out more, to get involved at their local level, and to advocate for all levels of government to put wellbeing at the heart of public policy.

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Read more about the CIW at:

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation

A leading grant-maker in Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation strengthens the capacity of the voluntary sector through investments in community-based initiatives. An agency of the Government of Ontario, OTF builds healthy and vibrant communities.  For more information on the Foundation, please visit the website at:

About the University of Waterloo

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit

Media contacts:

Gabrielle Gallant, Ontario Trillium Foundation, (416) 963-4561 or  or Pamela Smyth, University of Waterloo, (519) 888-4777 or

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