Quality of Life Significantly Worse for Some Groups of Canadians

Low-Income, Aboriginal, Racialized Groups and Youth have Fallen Behind

TORONTO, Dec. 16 /CNW/ - People with low incomes, Aboriginal peoples, racialized groups and youth are falling behind on key quality of life indicators, says a report released today by the Institute of Wellbeing, How are Canadians Really doing? A Closer Look at Select Groups.

"Overall, Canadians enjoy reasonably high living standards, population health and community vitality," said Institute CEO Lynne Slotek. "But we have enormous inequalities in our society and some groups of Canadians are being left behind due to levels of education, barriers to employment, low wages, social exclusion and racialization in the labour market."

The new report, based on research released in 2008 and 2009, examines living standards, health status and community vitality for four groups: Canadians with low incomes, Aboriginal Peoples, racialized groups, and youth. Report highlights include:

    -   Canadians living in households with incomes below $20,000 are three
        times more likely to experience a decline in self-rated health than
        people with the highest incomes.

    -   In Ontario, women living in the lowest income neighbourhoods have 25%
        higher odds of a premature birth and 46% higher odds of a low-birth-
        weight baby.

    -   Between 2002 and 2006, the tuberculosis rate among the Inuit was 90
        times higher than in the non-Aboriginal population.

    -   34% of the Aboriginal population has not completed high school
        compared to 15% of the non-Aboriginal Population.

    -   Aboriginal people are almost four times more likely than non-
        Aboriginal people to live in a crowded dwelling and are three times
        as likely to live in a dwelling in need of major repairs.

    -   Visible minority or racialized groups are three times more likely to
        be poor than other Canadians.

    -   While 65% of White Canadians reported a strong sense of community
        belonging, only 54% of Black and Latin American Canadians and 52% of
        Southeast Asian Canadians felt that way.

    -   White youth reported higher levels of wellbeing than racial minority
        youth and two times higher than Aboriginal youth.

    -   Earnings of young adults relative to other earners have been falling
        over the past 20 years and young adults are entering employment later
        than ever before.

The report also draws on a number of international studies to place Canadian wellbeing in a global context. "International evidence shows us that these kinds of results aren't inevitable - they relate specifically to Canada's policy and program context," Slotek said. "In general, countries with more generous social protection systems tend to have better population health outcomes. By comparison, Canada is falling behind other industrialized nations when it comes to levels of poverty, advances in learning, levels of inequality, and investments in social programs."

The report is a follow-up to the Institute's First Report, How are Canadians Really doing? released on June 10, 2009 by the Honourable Roy. J. Romanow, Chair of the Institute's Advisory Board. The First Report presented trends, highlights and interconnections among three related areas of wellbeing - Living Standards, Healthy Populations and Community Vitality.

The report is available at www.ciw.ca


The Institute's mission is to report on the quality of life of Canadians, and promote a dialogue on how to improve it through evidence-based policies that are responsive to the needs and values of Canadians. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) is the Institute's signature product. When released in 2010, the CIW will be the only national index that measures wellbeing in Canada across a wide spectrum of categories.


For further information: For further information: Lynne Slotek, CEO Institute of Wellbeing and CIW National Project Director, (416) 869-4009

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