Vaughan among first municipalities to measure quality of life using the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)

On November 3, 2015 the Vaughan Community Wellbeing Coalition, made up of community stakeholders as well as a wide range of health and social service agencies that serve the city, released a comprehensive report on the status of health and wellbeing in their city.

The report, called Measuring What Matters: The Vaughan Community Wellbeing Report 2015, shows findings about Vaughan’s wellbeing based on indicators from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), an internationally recognized framework designed to support policy makers in making evidence-based decisions. Vaughan is among the first municipalities in Canada to create this kind of baseline measure of the health and wellbeing of its residents.
The report shows that in Vaughan the average income is higher than the provincial average and the majority of residents have a post-secondary education. However, analysis of the data also reveals Vaughan has pockets of hidden poverty as people struggle with low wages and precarious employment. This is compounded by rising house prices and the need for more affordable rental units.

These concerns are all too obvious to the social service agencies who serve this population. “At our Community Health Centre, we see the changing population of the city every day,” says Isabel Araya, Executive Director of the Vaughan Community Health Centre. “And we see who could be in danger of falling through the cracks if nothing changes.”
Another concern is that Vaughan residents spend far more time commuting to work compared to provincial and national figures. One of the benefits of the CIW framework is that it connects the dots between how people use their time and other factors that affect their health and wellbeing. Explains Margo Hilbrecht, Associate Director of Research at the CIW national office: “Overall, longer travel time is linked to feelings of time pressure, which can increase stress levels. Lengthy commute times also mean less time for other [leisure and recreation] activities, and that leads to lower levels of life satisfaction.”

Policy recommendations in the new report focus on four areas of concern for the growing city:
  1. the need for affordable housing
  2. increased local economic development
  3. better access to affordable transit
  4. and measures to improve air quality
“It’s a positive, constructive report,” says Isabel Araya, co-chair of the Vaughan Community Wellbeing Coalition. “It tells us what we are doing well, spotlights the important work done by organizations across the city but also presents early warning signs. Through the lens of the CIW, we see the bigger picture, but also how things interconnect.”

Read the full release on the Vaughan CHC website here

Download the report and listen to the launch event here

The Vaughan Community Wellbeing Coalition was convened in 2014 by the Vaughan Community Health Centre. Members are made up of community stakeholders and a wide range of health and social service agencies that serve the city including: City of Vaughan, United Way Toronto and York Region, York University, York Region District School Board, Catholic Community Services of York Region, Social Planning Council of York Region, Vaughan Public Libraries, Human Endeavour, Vaughan Community Health Centre.

Some media coverage:
Study takes hard look at 'well-being' of Vaughan (Toronto Star)
Vaughan's Wellbeing: report reveals troubling trends (
Hidden Poverty Lurks Beneath the City of Vaughan’s Wealthy Veneer (Torontoist)