Genuine Progress Index for Atlantic Canada
Indice de progrès véritable - Atlantique
Measuring Community
Wellbeing & Development
Office of Economic Development,
Halifax, 4 June, 2003
Community GPI is based on
simple question: What kind of
community are we leaving our
What kind of community
are we leaving our
Translating measurement into experience
and language of ordinary Nova Scotians
• Nova Scotia’s premier quality of
• More possessions, longer lives
• But, some disturbing signs
Uncertain Answers:
Better Off in a Poorer
Natural World?
•Natural resource depletion, species loss
•Less fish, condition of forests, soils
•Global warming
•Stress, obesity, asthma, environmental
•Insecurity, inequality, child poverty
•Decline of volunteerism
“The more the economy grows, the
better off we are” - Sending the
wrong message?
 Crime, sickness, pollution, resource
depletion make economy grow
 GDP can grow even as poverty and
inequality increase.
 More work hours make economy grow;
free time has no value.
 GDP ignores work that contributes directly
to community health (volunteers, work in
We Need Better Indicators of
Progress and Wellbeing. In
the GPI:
 Health, livelihood security, free time,
unpaid work, natural resource, &
education have value
 Sickness, crime, disasters, pollution are
 Reductions in crime, poverty, greenhouse
gas, ecological footprint are progress
 Growing equity signals progress
Community GPI
Initiative came from community groups.
Many community partnerships include:
• NS Citizens for Community Development
Society; community health boards, regional
public health authorities, Cape Breton
Wellness Centre, Atlantic Centre of Excellence
for Women’s Health
• CB regional police, Glace Bay Citizens Service
League, Rotary Clubs, Kings and Cape Breton
Community Economic Development Agencies
Community-GovernmentUniversity Partnerships:
• Federal: Canadian Population Health
Initiative, National Crime Prevention Centre,
HRDC, Canadian Rural Partnership, Rural
Secretariat, Statistics Canada
• Dalhousie Univ. Population Health Research
Unit; St. Mary’s University Time Use
Research Program
• University College of Cape Breton, Acadia U.
Goals and Objectives:
Community: vision, learn, mobilize, act
• Vision - community indicator selection
• “Learning about ourselves”
• Mobilize communities - common goals
• Turn new-found knowledge into action
Research Goals:
• Identifying strengths and weaknesses of
2 very different communities
• Community learning about itself,
insights, understanding relationships
among variables - eg volunteerism, time
use and health
• Turning knowledge into action; keeping
track - measuring genuine progress
Process as Result
• Indicator selection, creating survey
• Farmers exchanging information
• Report releases in Sheffield Mills,
Jeddore - farmers, fishermen present
• New ideas: e.g. restorative justice
• Results bring disparate groups together
The Means:
• 3,600 surveys - random, 15+, confidential
• CI 95% +/- 3%; 2 cross-tabulations
• Detailed: 2 hrs; Glace Bay: 82% response
• Survey includes health, care-giving, time
use, voluntary work, security, income
employment, environmental issues
• Data entry & cleaning, access guidelines
What’s in the Glace Bay and Kings
County GPI Surveys?
1) Demographics & Employment
• Age, sex, household, marital, education,
• Employment, unemployment, out of work
• Job characteristics - types of jobs (p-t, f-t,
etc), benefits, work from home, occupation
• Work schedule, hours, shifts, job security,
underemployment, job sharing - work
2) Health and Community
• Core values, caregiving, volunteer work,
community service
• Stress, mental health, social supports,
children’s health
• Weight, smoking, physical activity,
screening (Pap, mammogram, blood
• Pain, disability, disease, medications,
health care use
3) Peace and Security
• Victimization and costs of crime
• Neighbourhood safety, fear, selfprotection
• Opinions about police, courts, prisons
• Identify community problems drinking? bullying? domestic violence?
drugs? Etc.
4) Time Use Diary
• Work: Household work, paid work,
voluntary work, caregiving, education
• How we spend free time - TV, reading,
socializing, spiritual practice, sport,
• Travel, personal activities, child care
• Window on quality of life
5) Environment
• Energy use
• Transportation patterns
• Water quality
• Recycling and waste
• Food consumption - food diary and
Community Action
• Community access to results - special
software packages, news stories, etc.
• Meet to discuss results and identify
policy priorities / actions
• Community prioritizes indicators for
annual benchmarks of progress
• Community training - adaptations
Emphasis on practical
action - E.g:
• Teenage smoking; overweight; exercise e.g. promote school-based programs
• Screening rates - mammography, pap
smears -- notify health officials of needs
• Identify counselling needs - employment,
domestic violence, mental health
• Education - nutrition, recycling, energy use
New directions for the
• New solutions: e.g. work-life balance
• Model for other communities - template
for adaptation - community / province
• Balance community-based research with
methodological rigour, Statistics Canada
oversight, advice, review
• Improve methods, indicators, survey
tools, data sources - never a final product

Measuring Community Wellbeing & Development