Research regarding the concept of Community Well-Being (CWB), although not new, is becoming a staple in community based studies. In particular, the CWB Index is gaining quite a bit of momentum. The CWB Index is a tool that is widely used by government departments and agencies such as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, to score communities in terms of various socio-economic attributes. The Canadian CWB Index is a way of measuring well-being and provides unique insights into the quality of life of Canadians: our standard of living, our health, the quality of our environment, our education and skill levels, the way we use our time, the vitality of our communities, our participation in the democratic process, and the state of our leisure and culture.
Organizations such as the Canadian Index of Well-being Network (www.ciw.ca ) and Vibrant Canada (www.vibrantcanada.ca) use the Index to let us know how Canadian communities are faring in terms of these aforementioned quality of life attributes. Furthermore, the Index provides insight into things such as if our overall quality of life is getting better or worse and how increases in GDP benefits Canadians. The goal of such work is to provide information upon which to make progressive policies that better reflect Canadians’ needs and values.
In 2010, the Canadian Index of Well-being Network produced a series of reports on the various ‘domains’ of well-being. Community Vitality is one of those domains. The conclusions of the report entitled ‘Community Vitality: A Report of the Canadian Index of Well-Being‘ were that:
- Canadians have strong social relationships with their families and their communities;
- The size of social networks appears to be increasing;
- The rate of membership in voluntary groups and organizations is relatively high and is increasing;
- Canadians report high levels of social support, extending assistance to family, friends and neighbours;
- Levels of crime are down;
- Canadians report a strong sense of belonging to their local communities across the country; however
- There is an increase in the proportion of Canadians reporting discrimination – which the report identified as a challenge we as a Nation will face on a go forward basis.
Danya Al-Haydari is an Environmental Planner at Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited, where she specializes in public consultation, environmental assessment and energy policy. She has coordinated work for the Port Hope and Port Granby Projects, and conducted research on the Port Hope Area Initiative’s Property Value Protection Program. Most recently, she co-authored a paper for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization on community well-being in nuclear host communities. Danya is a member of the Canadian Nuclear Society and Women in Nuclear Canada.