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How are Canadians really doing? The 2012 CIW report

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) initiative at the University of Waterloo is an ambitious project that tracks the overall wellbeing of Canadians using 64 indicators within eight domains: 1) arts, culture and recreation; 2) civic engagement; 3) community vitality; 4) education; 5) environment; 6) healthy populations (health status indicators); 7) living standards; and 8) time use.

This is the CIW’s second report, and it reveals the inadequacy of using gross domestic product (GDP) as an indicator of wellbeing. Between 1994 and 2010, Canada's GDP grew by almost 30%, while our quality of life improved by less than 6%. Also, when the economy faltered between 2008 and 2010, Canadian wellbeing dropped by 24% and has not recovered, even while the economy has.

The primary goal of the CIW is to monitor trends within and among the eight domains of well-being. Although only one domain deals directly with people’s health, all domains relate to people’s abilities to access the conditions that lead to good health.The report concludes with ideas about how people can use the data to promote and support social justice and equity work. It also provides examples of how data from the previous CIW report has been used by individuals, and private and public sector organizations to work for change.

Use this resource to:

• Bring people from other sectors together with public health to talk about trends in Canadians’ wellbeing.
• Strengthen your regional health authority’s or health unit’s internal and external health equity work.
• Start a health equity conversation with elected representatives in your region.


Canadian Index of Wellbeing. (2012). How are Canadians really doing? The 2012 CIW report. Waterloo, ON: Canadian Index of Wellbeing and University of Waterloo.

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Tags: Assess and report, Document

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