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Canadian Index of Wellbeing Project

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) is an internationally recognized and praised research and evaluation tool that measures, tracks and reports on how people and communities are really doing in respect to the wide range of factors that affect health and wellbeing.

Equipped with 64 indicators for measurement and grouped across eight interconnected domains of focus, including community vitality, democratic engagement, education, the environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture, living standards and time use, the CIW offers clear, comprehensive, data-driven insight into Canada’s overall quality of life. It also provides clear, jargon-free language to speak about wellbeing and provides a way to define success, measure impact and report on results that can help change the debate, dialogue and decision making about health and health care. Alliance members are already putting this powerful tool to use at the regional, local and organizational levels to effect positive change.

With generous support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Alliance has worked closely with a core group of CIW early adopters. Over the past three years, Alliance members have emerged as pioneers in adopting the CIW and are applying it in a variety of innovative ways: assessing community needs, developing strategic plans, growing partnerships around shared priorities, measuring, evaluating, and improving programs and services, and raising awareness among decision-makers and the public about the need for better informed public policy focusing on health equity.

The Be Well Survey

One of the ways that member organizations are getting involved with the CIW is by incorporating the Be Well Survey into their work.

The Be Well survey is a minimum set of meaningful standardized questions intended for adaptable use in community-governed primary health care settings. To ensure the results capture the complex interplay of factors affecting health and wellbeing, the survey covers all eight CIW domains with a particular focus on community vitality and its components such as belonging, social connection, and inclusion. It also includes questions that are comparable with provincial and national CIW measures that show trends over time.

The Be Well survey was developed to provide our members with new information about the health and wellbeing of the people and communities they serve. The survey data provides a baseline, which can be used for evidence-based planning that can help to improve health and wellbeing and demonstrate the impacts of programs, services and initiatives over time. The Be Well data can also be used for advocating for healthy public policies that improve access to the determinants of health and mitigate the impacts of poverty and other barriers to health such as mental health, social isolation and discrimination.

The survey was developed in partnership with the CIW and with input from over 80 Health Promoters and Community Developers and 10 early adopter Community Health Centres. The survey was piloted and tested in 2013, and adapted and updated in 2014 based on feedback from the initial experience. The survey was then rolled out in two phases. 

Phase I: 20 member organizations used the Be Well Survey at 24 member sites across Ontario to collect over 2300 surveys.

Phase II: 20 member organizations used the Be Well Survey at 22 member sites across Ontario to collect over 4000 surveys.