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The eight quality of life domains

Explore how the work of community-governed primary care centres is addressing the eight quality of life domains that have a major impact on health and wellbeing.

Education is the systematic instruction, schooling, or training given to the young in preparation for the work of life, and by extension, similar instruction or training obtained by adults.

Before the start of formal schooling in kindergarten, education is reflected in pre-school arrangements such as childcare and early childhood education. Beyond high school, college or university, and professional training through apprenticeships, education takes place in the form of adult learning and lifelong learning.


  • Available childcare spaces
  • Children doing well on development domains
  • Student-to-teacher ratio
  • Social/emotional competency scores for youth
  • Youth basic knowledge/skills index
  • PISA scores explained by SES
  • High school completion rate
  • Population with university degree

Shift the conversation: Education
Example: The Back to School Community Store 
The Back to School Community Store, led by the Centre de Santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury supports a solid start in school for children and youth which can be a protective health factor for a lifetime. The store offers families brand new school supplies at 10% of the actual cost, which they can pay either through a cash contribution, or through volunteer work with the store.


Community Vitality

Vital communities are those that have strong, active and inclusive relationships among residents, the private and public sectors, and civil society organisations – relationships that promote individual and collective wellbeing.

Vital communities are able to cultivate and marshal these relationships in order to create, adapt, and thrive in the changing world. They do so in ways that are inclusive and respectful of the needs and aspirations of diverse communities.


  • Participation in organized activities
  • Six or more close friends
  • Property crime rate
  • Violent crime rate
  • Feel safe walking after dark
  • Most people can be trusted
  • Provide unpaid help to others
  • Strong sense of belonging to community

Shift the conversation: Community Vitality
Example: Dundonalds Park 
It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to create a vibrant, safe, accessible park. When communities come together to improve collective sense of belonging, safety, social cohesion, trust and participation, they nurture community vitality. In 2011, Centretown Community Health Centre responded to a call-out from 8-80 Cities, a Toronto-based charitable organization that aims to promote urban parks as accessible and safe spaces for everyone aged 8 to 80.


Democratic Engagement is the state of being involved in advancing democracy through political institutions, organisations, and activities.

A society that enjoys a high degree of democratic engagement is one where citizens participate in political activities, express political views, and foster political knowledge; governments build relationships, trust, shared responsibility, and participation opportunities with citizens; and democratic values are sustained by citizens, government, and civil society.


  • Voter turnout at federal elections
  • Not interested in politics
  • Every citizen's duty to vote in federal elections
  • Satisfied with way democracy works in Canada
  • Confident in federal parliament
  • Ratio of registered voters
  • Women in parliament
  • Official development

Shift the conversation: Democratic Engagement
Example: Committed Citizens Change the World 
As Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world." In Mimico, Ontario, this is precisely what is happening. When citizens become democratically engaged by participating in political activities, expressing political views, and fostering political knowledge, they take ownership over their communities, working actively to support building a well and healthy place to live, work and grow.


The environment is the foundation upon which human societies are built. On a broader level, it involves prevention of waste and damage while revitalising the quality and sustainability of all our resources. It is the foundation of all human societies and the source of our sustained wellbeing.


  • Ground level ozone
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Primary energy production
  • Freshwater water supply
  • Ecological footprint
  • Reserves of viable metals
  • Canadian Living Planet Index
  • Sustainability of fisheries

Shift the conversation: Environment
Example: Pinery Provincial Park Community Walking Program 
Friends of Pinery Park, a local group dedicated to preserving and promoting Pinery Provincial Park, noticed that while the park was a thriving tourist attraction, the community of Grand Bend was not actively engaged in the park and benefiting from all that the park had to offer. By teaming up with Grand Bend Community Health Centre and Grand Bend Foundation, the Pinery Walking Group was formed in 2010 to improve physical activity and get people outdoors to enjoy nature.


The Healthy Populations domain considers the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of the population. It examines life expectancy, lifestyle and behaviours, and the circumstances that influence health as well as health care quality, access, and public health services.

In this way, it captures both the overall health of the population as well as factors that influence health because individuals' lifestyles and behaviours are constrained and shaped by broader social factors.


  • Self-rated health
  • Diabetes rate
  • Life expectancy at birth
  • Daily/occasional teen smokers
  • People with probable depression
  • Health services rated as good/excellent
  • Influenza immunization rate
  • Expected remaining years in good health

Shift the conversation: Healthy Populations 
Example: Women Everywhere (WE) Breastfeed 
In 2007, the Guelph Community Health Centre (CHC) started the Women Everywhere (WE) Breastfeed program, modeled after a similar initiative in Kitchener, in response to a community-identified need. With the help of a Registered Nurse, volunteers were trained to become peer-leaders to give fellow new mothers advice and support on breastfeeding.


By participating in leisure and cultural activities, whether arts, culture, or recreation, we contribute to our wellbeing as individuals, to our communities, and to society as a whole.

The myriad of activities and opportunities we pursue and enjoy benefit our overall life satisfaction and quality of life. As forms of human expression, they help to fully define our lives, the meaning we derive from them, and ultimately, our wellbeing.


  • Participation in social leisure activities
  • Participation in arts and culture activities
  • Volunteering for culture/recreation organizations
  • Participation in physical activities
  • Attendance at performance arts
  • National/Historic Park visitation
  • Nights away on vacation
  • Household expenditures on culture/recreation

Shift the conversation: Leisure and Culture 
Example: Latin Men United 
If there is one thing that the Spanish-speaking men living with life challenges in the Davenport-Perth area have in common, it is a deep love for soccer. Soccer, like many forms of leisure and culture, contributes to the experience of health and wellbeing by improving physical fitness and mental health, creating social connections, and giving the opportunity to have fun outdoors.


The Living Standard domain examines Canadians' average and median income and wealth, distribution of income and wealth including poverty rates, income fluctuations and volatility, and economic security, including labour market security, housing security, and security provided by the social safety net.


  • Gap between lowest and highest income groups
  • Median family income
  • Persons in low income
  • Economic security
  • Long-term unemployment rate
  • Employed labour force
  • Employment quality index
  • Housing affordability

Shift the conversation: Living Standards 
Example: Latin Men United 
For the newcomers, refugees and parents who frequent the Oriole Food Space, preparing food is about feeding the body as well as the soul. Food is a key component of living standards, which along with other factors such as income, economic security, housing and social services is intimately connected to how people experience health and wellbeing.


Time use measures how people experience and spend their time. It considers the length of our work week and our work arrangements, our levels of time pressure, and the time we spend in leisure and volunteerism.

The implicit assumption is the notion of balance. Most activities are beneficial to wellbeing when done in moderation, but are detrimental when done excessively or not at all.


  • People working more than 50 hours per week
  • High levels of time pressure
  • Unpaid help given to seniors
  • Seniors participating in daily active leisure
  • Seniors volunteering
  • Commute time
  • Workers with flexible work hours
  • Children read to daily by parents

Shift the conversation: Time Use 
Example: The Walking School Bus
In early 2009, a community member with Action Sandy Hill approached Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and Viscount Alexander Public School to see if there was interest in developing a Walking School Bus program. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, parents and volunteer "drivers" from the community meet children at a certain point and continue walking on a route to school, picking up other children along the way – just like a real school bus.