The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) tracks changes in eight quality of life categories or domains including: community vitality, democratic engagement, education, environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture, living standards, and time use.
Measuring what Canadians really care about
One of the things that sets the CIW apart is the process used to create the conceptual framework of eight domains. It started with listening to Canadians talk about what is important to the quality of their lives. Researchers then developed the eight domain framework and a set of criteria for indicator selection. Only then, did researchers go out and look for indicators. For three of the dimensions covering two domains (Leisure and Culture, Living Standards), no indicators met the criteria - creating data gaps. One of the CIW's goals is to promote data collection that better reflects the real lives of Canadians, and so, we have noted the gaps below.
Click on the domains to expand details and their eight affiliated indicators
This domain looks at our quality of life with regard to the communities we live in. It tells us what is happening in our neighbourhoods, how safe we feel, and whether or not we are engaged in community activities or becoming socially isolated.
The conceptual model for the Community Vitality domain is comprised of four dimensions, organized into two main categories. The first category includes measures of Social Relationships. The three dimensions of this category are social engagement, social support and community safety. The second category measures Social Norms and Values, with a single dimension of attitudes towards others and community.
|Social Relationships||Social engagement|
|Social support||Percentage of population with 5 or more close friends|
|Social Norms and Values||Attitudes towards others and community|
Democratic Engagement means taking part in the democratic process through political institutions, organizations, and activities. A society that enjoys a high level of democratic engagement is one where citizens freely participate in political activities, express their political views, and share political knowledge; where governments build relationships, trust, and encourage citizen participation; and, where democratic values are promoted by citizens, civic organizations, and all levels of government. A healthy democracy means more than voting in elections; it requires ongoing democratic engagement both during and between elections.
The framework of the Democratic Engagement domain is based upon the work of Samara Canada’s Democracy 360 report. There are three interrelated dimensions in the framework: (1) Participation, (2) Communication and, (3) Leadership.
|Communication||Percentage of Members of Parliament's office budget devoted to sending communications to constituents|
Education is a core personal resource and a reflection of our ability to function and adapt in society. It is an important predictor of health, living standards, democratic participation, and education for future generations. The Education domain focuses on school-based learning and education rather than informal learning. Since societies that thrive encourage a thirst for knowledge at every age and stage, the framework of the Education domain includes both traditional indicators of educational achievement along with some less conventional indicators of education across the life span.
The Education domain framework identifies three key dimensions for understanding the connections between education and wellbeing: (1) Social and emotional competencies, (2) Basic educational knowledge and skills, and (3) Overall academic achievement and participation.
|Social and emotional competencies||Amount of time spent in talk-based activities with children aged 0 to 14 years|
|Basic educational knowledge and skills|
|Overall academic achievement, attainment, and participation|
The Environment domain identifies trends in the availability and use of natural resources in Canada’s environment. From the resources that fuel our economy to the medicines that heal us, and the happiness of outdoor enthusiasts to the lessons that guide many religious or spiritual beliefs, the wellbeing of humans depends on the state of the environment. This domain is not an analysis of the sustainability of Canada‘s environment; instead, it explores natural assets available to Canadians, the flow of these resources over time, and some of the impacts of human activity on the environment.
The Environment domain covers different aspects of the environment that matter to Canadians’ wellbeing including: clean air, clean water, available energy and raw materials, the amount of wilderness, diversity of species, and the resources that play a huge underlying role in our economy. These environmental aspects are explored through a “stock and flow” framework. This can be best understood by thinking about your bank account – the amount of money you have in the account is the stock, and any money added or removed is the flow. For the environment, this means that current amounts of a resource (stock) are measured alongside the quantity added or removed (flow).
The Healthy Populations domain is mainly concerned with measuring health status, lifestyle behaviours, and health care system factors. The components of health status—personal wellbeing, life expectancy, physical health conditions, functional health, and mental health—measure different aspects of health outcomes. The other components—lifestyle and behaviour, health care, and public health—measure factors that affect our health and are often directly affected by public policy and health initiatives. These components measure external factors that affect the health status of people and communities.
|Physical Health Conditions|
|Lifestyle and Behaviour|
Leisure and Culture
The leisure and culture domain explores Canadians’ participation and engagement with the arts, culture, and recreation. Participation in these activities can be highly beneficial to wellbeing by contributing to better physical and mental health, and creating opportunities for socializing, relaxation, and learning new things.
The leisure and culture domain has four main components. The first is Participation in leisure, recreation, arts, and cultural activities. The second is Perceptions, or feelings about leisure activities, including why people participate, what needs are being met through participation, and how leisure and culture participation benefits them. The third is the Experience of leisure, or the meaning it holds for people in relation to quality of life. The final component includes the provision of leisure and culture Opportunities, such as access to recreation facilities, open spaces and parks, and other arts, culture, and recreation sites. Taken together, these components are used to define, measure, and understand leisure and culture and to explore relationships to wellbeing.
The Living Standards domain measures the level and distribution of Canadians’ income and wealth by monitoring poverty rates, income fluctuations, labour market security and job quality. It also considers basic necessities such as food security and affordable housing.
Eight headline indicators are grouped into four components of the domain framework. The framework components include: (1) Average and median income; (2) Income and wealth distribution; (3) Income volatility; and, (4) Economic security.
|Average and median income and wealth|
|Income and wealth distribution|
|Income volatility||Data gap|
The time use domain framework is based on the Social Theory of Time, and is comprised of four subcomponents: time, timing, tempo, and temporality. The time subcomponent includes indicators that capture the amount of time spent on specific activities. Indicators in the timing subcomponent look at when activities occur during the day. This is related to how much “control” Canadians have over their time. Tempo focuses on how time is experienced in terms of pace (fast, slow, intense, relaxed, etc.). Finally, temporality refers to the natural rhythms associated with daily, weekly, or annual routines that are largely dependent on biological or seasonal changes. Taken together, these four components allow us to gain a broader perspective of the experience, meaning, and complexity of time.
|Tempo||Percentage of 15 to 64 years old reporting high levels of time pressure|