Appendix B: The CIW: Methods


The base year selected for monitoring trends in wellbeing is 1994, the year the National Population Health Survey began. In this report, we update on trends until 2014, which is the most recent for which the latest full set of data across all eight domains are available.

The indicators used in the Index are taken principally from data sources provided by Statistics Canada. National surveys conducted over time from which data are drawn include the Canadian Community Health Survey, the Labour Force Survey, various cycles of the General Social Survey (e.g., Time Use, Social Networks and Identity, Victimization), Travel Survey of Residents of Canada, and the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Indicators also are taken from data sources provided by Environment Canada, the Board of Internal Economy, Elections Canada, and Parks Canada. Finally, selected indicators are provided by independent groups and organizations such as the OECD, the Global Footprint Network, CIBC, Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, and the Childcare Resource and Research Unit.

With many of the indicators measured in very different ways, a first step is to set each indicator to a value of 100 at the base year. Percentage changes are then calculated for each subsequent year with positive reflecting some improvement in wellbeing while negative percentage changes indicate a deterioration. This approach applies to all 64 indicators as well as the eight domains, and ultimately, the CIW composite index.

All of the indicators are weighted equally. There are many reasons for regarding one or another indicator as more important in some way or other, but what is missing is a good reason for assigning any particular indicator a weighting greater or less than that of some or all other indicators. The absence of such a reason justifies the equal treatment of all indicators at this time.

Throughout the report, trends for the eight domains are presented and specific indicators highlighted to reflect how Canadians’ wellbeing has changed — for better and for worse — over the 21-year period from 1994 to 2014. The domains are presented in the order reflecting how well we have progressed since 1994 — from the greatest increase in Education to the continuing deterioration of Leisure and Culture. Along with tracking changes in wellbeing, we are able to see where the impact of the 2008 recession was felt most.

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