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February 1998


The Quality of Life in Halton - 1997

The quality of life in Halton has declined since 1990!

This is the report of a Quality of Life Index (QLI) created to monitor key indicators of the social, health, environmental and economic dimensions of life in Halton.

The twelve indicators reveal progress in some areas and setbacks in others (see graph 2). On the environmental front, there are improvements in air quality, waste diversion to recycling and a reduction in effluent spills.

On the economic front, there are problems, as indicated by a dramatic increase in the number of bankruptcies due to the prolonged recession of the early 1990s. Unfortunately, timely information on the number of unemployed and size of labour force could not be easily obtained.

The social indicators reveal problems related to the present economic and political environment: difficulty in accessing public housing, large numbers of people forced onto welfare, and an increase in the number of children being cared for by child welfare authorities. These social problems sow the seeds for long-term problems which cannot be ignored.

On the health front, we have seen an increase in the number of low birth weight babies born. This is not only a marker for poverty, it is also a warning sign about the number of children who are at risk of a host of problems which would prevent their healthy development over the rest of their lives.

Click charts for larger graphics.

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What is the QLI?

The Quality of Life Index is a project of the Social Planning Network of Ontario. The Network is comprised of some 30 social planning and research organizations in Ontario, including the Halton Social Planning Council. Halton Region will have its own Quality of Life Index.

At the 1995 annual meeting of the Social Planning Network of Ontario, it was agreed that Social Planning Councils and the Ontario Social Development Council would work together to develop a Quality of Life Index (QLI) which could be used to monitor and report on significant changes in the conditions which affect our quality of life. The QLI has been designed and tested by social development organizations across Ontario. These organizations have decades of experience in social research and reporting.

How it Will Be Used?

The Quality of Life Index will be used to monitor and report on significant changes to the conditions that affect the quality of life in Ontario, and in their specific regions and counties. The QLI will be updated bi-annually and be reported in the media in a similar way to economic indicators, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In this way, the public will be kept informed about how their quality of life is being affected by public policies.

To ensure that the index is usable and easily understood by the public, the overall index is converted to a score of 100, so that any change in the index would show either a "positive," or "negative" movement, or no movement at all. The index would allow a user to see that, for example, "the Quality of Life Index went down in the last half of 1997 by half a percentage point." The movement of individual indicators would affect the movement of the overall index. For example, an increase in the number of social assistance caseloads from one month to another would show as a "negative" movement on the overall index. Likewise, a drop in the rate of low birth weight babies from one month to the next would show as a "positive" movement.

What it Means for Halton?

Halton has its own Quality of Life Index. The Quality of Life Index, consisting of valid and time-sensitive indicators, has a number of valuable applications in Halton Region. These include the following:

  • allows for comparison of Quality of Life trends with other regions and Ontario overall
  • allows policy makers and funders, among others, to track the movement of individual indicators and/or "bundles" of certain types of indicators, e.g. health indicators
  • provides complementary information for existing studies contributing to knowledge of our community (e.g. State of the Environment Report)
  • contributes to the effort of monitoring the impact of government budgetary and social policy measures on people's lives
  • provides information for use in policy briefs, funding proposals and submissions to governments at all levels
  • allows users of the Quality of Life Index to measure their own personal, or "intuitive" assessment relating to their own quality of life with negative or positive movements of the Index
  • promotes debate within the community on the steps necessary to build and secure a healthy community

The quality of community life in Halton and Ontario is changing dramatically as we approach the 21st century and governments at all levels are making major changes in public policies. How will these changes affect our quality of life? This Quality of Life Index provides a new way for communities to monitor and measure these changes and focus on issues which affect them. The Index is now being used in a first report, "The Quality of Life in Halton - 1997". The full report is available from the Halton Social Planning Council and Volunteer Centre. Also available is the report "The Quality of Life in Ontario - 1997" and companion documents (such as bibliographies).


Produced by the Community Development Halton
860 Harrington Court
Burlington, Ontario L7N 3N4
(905) 632-1975, (905) 878-0955; Fax: (905) 632-0778; E-mail: office@cdhalton.ca

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