Café Scientifique: The Canadian Index of Wellbeing: How are Ontarians Really Doing?

On Wednesday April 30th, a CIHR Café Scientifique discussion was held in Waterloo, Ontario, where a panel of two health researchers and two community health agency practitioners conversed with the local community about how the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), situated at the University of Waterloo, can be utilized to monitor and enhance the health and wellbeing of Ontarians.

The discussion was framed around the April 29th release of the first provincial composite index report, entitled How are Ontarians Really Doing, which paints a picture of Ontarian’s wellbeing in 2010, relative to 1994 baseline data, by means of eight CIW quality of life domains.

The discussion began with an introduction by Bryan Smale, CIW Director and Professor at University of Waterloo, during which he explained the importance of applying Ontario CIW data to “make social change.” Next, the panel weighed in, beginning with Dr. Susan J. Elliot, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean at the University of Waterloo, where she described the CIW as a tool to understand the context in which people operate. Dr. Paul Stolee, Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo, discussed applying the CIW provincial report findings to address the growing needs and assets of the aging population in Ontario. 

Denise Squire, Executive Director of Woolwich Community Health Centre (WCHC) provided practical examples of utilizing the CIW as a systematic, evidence-based tool that can be readily and appropriately applied to communities. She also described the successes of utilizing the CIW framework as a community assessment tool to set priorities around community vitality and explained WCHC’s new Community Wellbeing assessment which will analyze all 8 domains of the CIW. The panel discussion concluded with Bruce Lauckner, Chief Executive Officer of Waterloo Wellington LHIN (WWLHIN), referencing the need to shift the conversation from “health care to health and wellbeing” in order to uncover and address the root causes which affect health.

Following the panel was a fruitful and engaging question-and-answer period, whereby local community members demonstrated interest in the CIW’s role in enhancing the overall quality of life of Ontarians.

by Taheera Walji, AOHC Intern, Policy & Communications

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