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A powerful gathering of stakeholders, evidence, best practices and policy asks.

By Gillian Kranias, HC Link

This Tuesday, the Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa launched: Bridging the Gap - Measuring What Matters: The Ottawa Community Wellbeing Report 2014. I missed the event but wanted to grab a copy of the report as soon as possible. I had heard about their work when filming some speakers at an AOHC event in July (HC Link blogged about that event and you can watch the videos here).

It was well worth looking at. It is storyful, data sensible, dynamic, and with purpose.

"Our hope is that the findings in this report will shape election debate and discussion in meetings and forums across the city" write the report authors.

Meaningful purpose and great design

The 47 page beautifully designed report includes:

  • a summary of the research approach and results;
  • sections following the eight domains from the Community Index of Wellbeing (CIW), each with data results, analysis and a showcasing (including short video links) of community initiatives that address gaps for each domain. (See pic below of the eight domains);
  • a special section on rural Ottawa; and
  • a final section presenting policy recommendations.

The policy recommendations were developed through an extensive community consultation process orchestrated by the Civic Engagement Roundtable of the Making Votes Count Where We Live initiative.


The diversity of report authors shaped the conversation in a refreshing evidence-based and story-rich way. The result is some useful data with lots of illustrative text and pictures, a balance of focus on challenges and strengths, and an emphasis on the foundational impact of public policies on the health of communities.

Using the Canadian Index of Wellbeing

As I already noted, much of this Ottawa report is based on the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), a framework for measuring "how are we really doing", with a focus on health equity and vibrant communities for all.

At HC Link, we are still engaged in learning (and sharing) more about the CIW: its domains and indicators, and the various ways community partnerships across sectors are experimenting with CIW.

Identified strengths of CIW include:

  • a common language for talking about community health,
  • a measurement tool aligned to "what really matters" (i.e. beyond GDP),
  • part of a growing movement to solidify more common measurements and shared data in our evaluative efforts across local, regional and national geographies.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences with the CIW. The authors of the Ottawa report muse that CIW holds the promise to "Connect the dots between social aspirations, public policy and hard evidence". What is your perspective? Please use our comment box below, or contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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