Quality of life is the focus of survey
Are the things you do in your life worthwhile?
After you ponder the sheer scope and depth of that inquiry, rate how worthwhile on a scale from one to 10, where 10 is totally and one is the opposite end of the spectrum.
That question, along with the equally soul-searching, “how satisfied are you with your life in general?” comes toward the end of 85 questions – many of them multi-part – on Engage Nova Scotia’s survey to measure the quality of Nova Scotians’ lives.
Over the past few weeks, invitations to complete the quality of life survey arrived in more than 80,000 mailboxes – one in five households – across Nova Scotia. Engage Nova Scotia and its partners in the project hope for a response rate of about 10 per cent, spread fairly evenly across the province.
The Nova Scotia quality of life initiative, says Engage NS, is all about measuring what matters and using the results to improve the daily lives of Nova Scotians.
Success in the first part obviously depends on Nova Scotians completing the survey, which is open until July 5 and responses are confidential. Those who do respond have a chance to win groceries and provide “fresh perspectives” that will “prompt action that improves the wellbeing of all Nova Scotians across economic, environmental, and cultural lines.”
At the risk of understatement, that seems ambitious.
Engage Nova Scotia is a tiny non-profit sponsored by the province, municipalities and private businesses, with partnerships that span the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors. Its mission is to “cultivate engagement” and “catalyze actions” aimed at strengthening social cohesion and improving the quality of life of all Nova Scotians.
The Nova Scotia Community College is a partner in the quality of life initiative, and leaders from NSCC campuses across Nova Scotia have combined with business and community groups to create 10 local leadership teams, first to get the word out about the survey, and later to ensure the results lead to concrete action.
The survey – the first of its kind in Canada – is being administered by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing out of the University of Waterloo. It poses a broad range of questions covering eight key areas related to the quality of life Nova Scotians are experiencing.
There are questions about health, about political engagement, the state of the environment, how folks spend their leisure time and whether they have access to cultural, recreational and educational assets.
The survey delves into the vitality of Nova Scotia communities, gauging people’s participation in professional, political, labour and community organizations; connections with family, friends and neighbours, and levels of trust in local and provincial institutions.
Danny Graham, CEO – chief engagement officer – with Engage Nova Scotia, notes that policymakers traditionally have access to reams of economic data upon which to base decisions, but that provides an incomplete picture.
“We think that if we have a more complete picture of how Nova Scotians are doing in all areas that matter to them, we’ll be better equipped to make decisions that help everyone live a good life.”
Asked how to measure success, 68 per cent of Nova Scotians reply, “By growing the economy,” but 81 per cent said, “By improving our quality of life.”
“If we treasure it, we should measure it,” Graham quipped.
Bryan Smale, director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at Waterloo believes the information gleaned from the survey can lead to opportunities to think creatively and generate innovative approaches that address the complex quality of life issues people say are important to them.
Many Nova Scotians will tell you there is something special about the quality of life in the province, but that’s certainly not the case for all.
The survey’s sponsors believe it can improve understanding as to why some people are doing well and others are not.
If it can do that, and if it leads to better policy, programs and choices that help those who aren’t doing well, the quality of life initiative rates top marks on the “worthwhile” scale.