How Canada, its people, and its institutions are doing can be measured in many different ways. In some areas, we are accustomed to seeing certain indicators. For example, in the financial market, we see indicators such as last month's inflation rate, or the daily level of trade in the stock market.
Such measures are important, but what do we know about other areas of Canadian living? How many Canadians have a paying job? What levels of education do we have, and how does that compare with other countries? What proportion of marriages end in divorce? How long can we expect to live? Have there been any big changes over the last 20 years or so?
This Indicators of Well-being in Canada website helps to answer such questions. Developed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), its purpose is to systematically present measures and report on various aspects of well-being that are important to Canadians.
This website presents one approach to measuring individual and societal well-being. Over time, and with the input of users and interested parties, we hope to further develop the range and depth of indicators on the website.
Our selection of indicators is largely guided by a conceptual framework of well-being, supported by consultations with experts and interested parties both inside and outside government.
Individual Canadians and their families interact with each other and with social institutions over the course of their lives, building up and expending resources of different kinds (such as time, finances, goods and services, and social networks). Resources can be personal assets such as health and skills. Resources can also be the goods and services provided by social institutions. Finally, resources can be societal assets such as the environment and social order.
At the individual level, well-being is associated with quality of life and influenced by factors such as family relationships, health, friends and community, and work.
At the societal level, well-being consists of the collective well-being of individuals, the quality of the interactions that individuals have with each other and with their social institutions, and the quality of the interactions among social institutions.
Since an individual's situation can change over time, there is also a life-course aspect to well-being. Choices (for example, to attend university) and significant life events (such as a job loss) can alter the course of an individual's life, and thus, his or her well-being. Having access to resources helps individuals cope with major changes, or transitions, that may occur at various times in their lives.
Based on availability of statistics, our indicators attempt to capture the level and flow of resources over time, providing measures of well-being for the individual and society.
In addition, an indicator is considered appropriate for this website if it is:
Guided by the conceptual framework, the indicators are organized into the following areas of well-being:
Within each area of well-being the indicators are organized into three groupings related to well-being:
Each indicator page contains certain basic information:
In a few cases, an indicator page may contain more than one measure. For example, the employment rate indicator presents two measures: employed persons as a percentage of working-age adults, and employed persons as a percentage of the total population.
It is the important work and cooperation of various organizations that make this website possible.
Much of the data are originally collected and reported by Statistics Canada. In some cases, Statistics Canada administers particular surveys and collects data on behalf of HRSDC. Other data sources include international organizations and specialized survey companies.
Citing original sources. The original sources of data are clearly shown throughout the website. When using and reporting statistics and other information from this website, we ask that users cite these original sources and also reference the Indicators of Well-being in Canada website.
Using Statistics Canada data in publications. Statistics Canada information is used with the permission of Statistics Canada. Users are forbidden to copy Statistics Canada data and redisseminate them, in an original or modified form, for commercial purposes, without permission from Statistics Canada. Information on the availability of the wide range of data from Statistics Canada can be obtained at Statistics Canada's
We make every effort to keep this website up to date as new data become available. Some of the data underlying our indicators may change from time to time, for example, data based on the Census, which is taken every five years. Other statistics are updated annually, and others are renewed irregularly by their sources.
For additions and updates to the website, see What's New.
The website presents 10 Areas of Well-being, each having its own Overview section, and a set of indicators organized according to Status, Life Events, and Key Influences.
The Special Reports section contains in-depth analyses of data on well-being issues of particular interest. New reports are added from time to time.
Canadians in Context provides background information to help put the various indicators of well-being into perspective. For example, a slowdown in the growth of Canada's population is important to indicators of Canada's workforce, and an aging population has implications for indicators on health and caregiving.
For each indicator, the Glossary provides both a basic definition as well as a more technical definition and details on how data were gathered and/or analysed, and, where applicable, data limitations. The Glossary also contains definitions of some key terms used in the website. You can access the Glossary in three ways:
Also for each indicator, users can view the charts in tabular format. In addition, users can Download Data for each chart from the indicator pages, and for a complete area from the Overview page. The data are available in Excel format and in tab-delimited text format.
For some indicators, users can select desired years or regions to generate Custom Charts of the data.
Our development of indicators is ongoing. With the benefit of time, discussions with interested parties, and the input of users, we hope to improve the coverage of well-being indicators and work with our partners in order to develop new data related to well-being issues.
The areas of well-being will be updated with new indicators and new data as they become available.
User feedback will help us to improve the content of this website. Did you find the things you expected to see? Were the indicators meaningful? Please let us know. We invite you to explore the website and respond to a brief User Survey.
You are also welcome to communicate with us directly through Contact Us.
The Indicators of Well-being in Canada website provides a general, descriptive, and factual picture of well-being. Users who have a specific interest in performance indicators or the impact of government programs are encouraged to consult other sources, including the Departmental Performance Report, which is tabled annually in Parliament for every federal government department.
Well-being involves many different aspects of Canadian living, and there are many websites that provide related information, sometimes from different perspectives. For your convenience, here are links to some of these websites.
Other Government of Canada Departments
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- Canadian Institute for Health Information
- Community Information Database
- Environment Canada
- Natural Resources Canada Atlas of Canada
- Statistics Canada
- Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: Canada's Performance
Provincial and Territorial Governments
- Government of British Columbia BC Stats
- Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Community Accounts
- Government of Nova Scotia Community Counts
- Atkinson Foundation Canadian Index of Wellbeing
- Canadian Council on Learning
- Canadian Council on Social Development
- Canadian Policy Research Networks
- Centre for the Study of Living Standards
- Conference Board of Canada
- Federation of Canadian Municipalities
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count
- European System of Social Indicators
- International Labour Organization
- New Zealand Ministry of Social Development Social Report
- OECD Home Page
- OECD Society at Glance
- OECD Statistics Portal
- United Nations Human Development Statistics
- United Nations Social Indicators