ATERLOO, Ont. (Thursday, April 7, 2011) - The University of Waterloo, long known for innovation and as an international leader in health promotion, has been selected as the natural home of a comprehensive index that measures the wellbeing of Canadians.

The Honourable Roy J. Romanow joined campus leaders to officially launch the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) Network at University of Waterloo. He also presented a new CIW report on Canada’s environmental path and its effect on long-term quality of life.

"Most Canadians realize that our wellbeing cannot be measured by just narrow economic measures like the GDP," said Romanow, chair of the network's advisory board and former Commissioner on the Future of Health Care in Canada. "The Canadian Index of Wellbeing is a single, national instrument for tracking and reporting on our overall wellbeing, on the things that matter to Canadians. The Index provides a snapshot of our country’s progress - or lack of it."

The CIW offers unique insights into the quality of life of Canadians - overall, and in specific areas such as health, standard of living, environment, education, time use, community vitality, democratic engagement, and the state of leisure and culture.

Its development is led by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing Network, an independent, non-partisan group of national and international leaders, researchers, organizations and grass roots Canadians committed to improving and protecting quality of life across the country. The network is guided by an advisory board of accomplished Canadian and international experts. The Honourable Monique Bégin, Canada’s former Commissioner to the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health, serves as deputy chair.

The search for a permanent home for the network began last year. So did preparations for the publication of Canada's first ever composite index of wellbeing, scheduled for release later this fall.

"Waterloo's faculty of applied health sciences has been an international leader for over 40 years in research related to promoting health and optimizing quality of life," said Romanow. "They have a proven track record in delivering and translating research to drive behaviour and policy change. It was a natural fit."

"The factors affecting wellbeing are complex," said Susan Elliott, dean of the faculty of applied health sciences. "Having the CIW at Waterloo provides an opportunity to bring together experts in all aspects of wellbeing, including health, to contribute to this leading-edge research."

The CIW is at the forefront of a global movement. Around the world, a consensus is growing about the need for a more comprehensive and transparent way to measure societal progress - one that accounts for more than just economic indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product and takes into account the full range of social, health, environmental and economic concerns of citizens.

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