Quality of Life Index and Survey

At Engage Nova Scotia we believe that if we treasure it, we should measure it. And that’s particularly true when it comes to quality of life.

That’s why we are advancing a Nova Scotia Quality of Life initiative – built on the Canadian Index of Wellbeing framework, starting with a Quality of Life Index report to be released in this spring. It will examine a wide range of topics that matter to Nova Scotians and compare them to national results, so they can be measured, tracked and improved.

These topics are clustered in eight “domains” – healthy populations, living standards, education, environment, community vitality, time use, democratic engagement, and leisure and culture.

Canadian Index of Wellbeing infographic

Traditionally, much of the information used to make decisions that affect our daily lives have been based on economic data. Those data are not wrong – they are just incomplete. With this initiative, we are working to advance a comprehensive framework for measuring and improving the daily lives of our people.

Perhaps we will find that “we are richer than we think”. Undoubtedly, we will find room for improvement, especially for marginalized communities of people. We hope it helps open a new chapter for our province and puts Nova Scotia at the forefront of jurisdictions that measure and seek to improve the quality of life of their citizens.

The Index will not provide the definitive word on how to assess progress in any of the eight domains. It is intended as a starting point for important conversations about what we value. We want to know what data can enhance this analysis; what information and research best reflects the experiences and priorities of Nova Scotians.

We do not see ourselves as the sole holders of this initiative. We have begun the long-term work of engaging and building collaborative networks amongst governments, educators, businesses, community organizations and the general public.

Our initiative builds on the pioneering work of GPI Atlantic in Nova Scotia, who was amongst the first to recognize the need for a more comprehensive measure of success. That imperative is one that is now echoed by global organizations like the United Nations, OECD and the International Monetary Fund. We think that the time is right for us to reinvigorate our commitment to research and to bring together a wider coalition of partners to ensure efforts like that of GPI are sustained.

The release of an index will be just a first step. It is intended to spark your imagination, foster serious conversations, prompt new collaborations. Further steps will require our partners and us to survey the public, drive further research and build support for this amongst Nova Scotians.

This is about more than just the data. It is about who we are as a people. Let’s start a new conversation.

Stepping Up

On June 16, 2015, by working with a diverse group of partners, including the Halifax Partnership, Cape Breton Partnership, and the Community Sector Council, Engage led the convening of a first of its kind province-wide conversation about the future of the province.

It linked 12 communities from Yarmouth to Sydney in a live-streamed experience that challenged Nova Scotians to “Step Up” and take action on what holds us back.
Stepping Up event poster

The Stepping Up Conference engaged over 1600 Nova Scotians who were ready to create positive change and received extensive media coverage, with over 22 newspaper articles, and the #StepUpNS hashtag created a twitterstorm that surpassed any other in the country that day.

Real Impact

The event resulted in over 200 activities that participants committed to take action on which were shared in a collaborative wiki document. We are pleased that many of these projects continue on today. One such project is AIRO – Annapolis Investments in Rural Opportunity, who support local businesses by providing advice, connections to helpful resources, and micro funding in the forms of grants, loans, or investments.

Recommended Resources

Media Coverage



  • Stepping Up Conference.” Information Morning Cape Breton. CBC Radio. Sydney, Nova Scotia, 15 June 2015. Information Morning Cape Breton. Web. 15 June 2015.