Transcript: Introduction to the Quality of Life Framework for Canada
[Video opens with animated CSPS logo.]
[Gayatri Jayaraman appears full screen. Text on screen: Statistics Canada /Statistics Canada.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Good afternoon, colleagues and welcome to the Introduction of the Quality of Life Framework for Canada. Thank you so much for joining us today on a Friday afternoon. I know how busy you are. We are delighted to be here today and excited to share with you more about the Quality of Life Framework and what it means to Canadians and public servants. My name is Gayatri Jayaraman. I am the Director General of the Census Subject Matter Social Insights Integration and Innovation team at Statistics Canada. And I am delighted to be moderating today's event with my dear colleague, Sandra. Sandra, over to you to introduce yourself.
[Sandra DiGnagbo appears full screen. Text on screen: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat/ Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Thank you, Gaya. Welcome, everybody. My name is Sandra DiGnagbo. I am a Manager in the Results Division of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. I am also delighted to be with you today for this inaugural event to introduce you to the Quality of Life Framework for Canada and how its implementation can contribute to better outcomes for Canadians. I would first like to say that we are speaking to you today from the National Capital Region, more specifically from the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation. I recognize that our participants connect from all over the country, so I encourage you to take a moment to recognize the territory in which you are currently located. Miigwech.
We have a very interesting program for you today, but before launching the event, I would like to quickly share a few logistical details to improve your viewing experience. First of all, we recommend that you disconnect from the virtual private network or VPN, as they say, to ensure a better connection. I would also like to inform you that there are simultaneous interpretation services as well as live captioning services available to you. To access and benefit from these services, refer to the School's email that you received concerning this event.
During the event, we will have a few questions for you. You will also have the opportunity to ask your own questions directly to the speaker through Wooclap. So I encourage you to log in now. Visit wooclap.com and insert the code "HXNNSY." Don't worry, we'll repeat those instructions soon.]And with these administrative details out of the way,
[Gayatri Jayaraman and Sandra DiGnagbo appear in video chat panels.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Gayatri, please tell us what we have in store for today's event, please.
Gayatri Jayaraman: Sandra, we have incredibly interesting things planned for today. We're joined by colleagues from Statistics Canada; the Department of Finance; the Treasury Board Secretariat; and the Public Health Agency of Canada, who will showcase for you the Quality of Life Framework. First, we will talk and share about the quality of life. What is it? What does it mean to Canadians? And how can we, collectively as public servants, play a role in contributing to the wellbeing of Canadians?
[Gayatri Jayaraman appears full screen.
Gayatri Jayaraman: You will then learn about the Quality of Life Framework for Canada. How did it come to be and how its implementation is helping drive evidence-based budgeting and decision making at the federal level. Each speaker will share with you about their specific role in the Quality of Life Framework and how other departments, such as the ones that you are in, can contribute to this important initiative. And, as you mentioned, Sandra, speakers from each of the organizations will join us afterwards for a discussion where you will have the opportunity to ask your questions to the panel of speakers.
We will also hear from Annie Boudreau, the Assistant Secretary of the Expenditure Management Sector at the Treasury Board Secretariat; Josée Bégin, the Assistant Chief Statistician of Social Health and Labour Statistics at Statistics Canada, who will share their perspectives on the Quality of Life Framework. But before we dive into things, we would like to start by sharing with you a few words from the Honourable Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board. President Fortier has been actively involved in the framework since its conception, and she will share about what quality of life means to her, the government, and public servants. So, let's hear from her.
[Mona Fortier appears full screen. Text on screen: The Honourable Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board of Canada/The Honourable Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board of Canada.]
Mona Fortier: Hi everyone. Hello, everyone. Thank you very much for joining us today, and I would like to give a big thank you to the Canada School of Public Service for putting on this important session on the federal government's Quality of Life Framework. Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that I am speaking to you from Ottawa, on the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe People. The purpose of today's event is to introduce you to the Quality of Life Framework that was first used to measure all budget measures in 2021, and also to explore why it's important to you, as public servants, and to all Canadians. In a nutshell, the made in Canada Quality of Life Framework was developed in 2020/2021 after a series of consultations with wellbeing experts; academics; and the OECD countries like New Zealand. The framework is a tool to make good public policy decisions for Canadians.
This approach that is made in Canada doesn't just consider our GDP; it is also based on evidence concerning the interrelated factors that matter most to the quality of life of Canadians: prosperity, health, environment, society and good governance. This approach allows us to use disaggregated data to examine the distribution of outcomes through an equity, diversity and inclusion lens, while performing a systematic assessment of inequality and inequity. It also takes into account long-term dynamics from a viewpoint of sustainability and resilience to ensure that progress made today does not come at the expense of future generations.
And this is the kind of holistic and integrated thinking that led us to introduce Canada's first ever Quality of Life Framework in budget 2021. While that budget was focused on continuing the fight against Covid and jumpstarting our economy, it was just as much about investing in measures that will increase Canadians' quality of life. Things like childcare; arts and culture; the environment; affordable housing; and public infrastructure. The Quality of Life Framework has been an integral part of the budget process since then. Every budget item is measured through the framework. The framework is evergreen as we continue to engage with departments; provinces and territories; Indigenous partners; municipalities; and other important stakeholders and expand it beyond the budget process, so that it's an integral part of how the government develops policies, programs, and services.
Now I will explain to you why the Framework matters so much to me. In fact, I entered politics precisely in the interest of improving quality of life. I wish to improve the lives of people in my community and across Canada. What better way is there to determine if we really are improving people's quality of life than through concrete measures of well-being? So when the Prime Minister appointed me as Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance in 2019, I was both honoured and thrilled. My mandate letter included the objective of better integrating quality of life measures into the government's decision-making and budgeting process.
So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. And then we faced a pandemic. The pandemic and its effects on Canadians and throughout the world have only confirmed a point that was already very clear: our quality of life is determined by many more factors than our GDP.
Our ability to thrive is linked to our health and safety: adequate housing; access to outdoors; clean water; education; leisure times; social connections; and so much more. And investing in sustainable quality of life outcomes, and ensuring no one gets left behind, will help us build the resilience we need to navigate our future challenges, whatever those might be. And as a government, we are privileged to lead the way in building a better, more inclusive and more resilient future. We play a critical important part in helping confront the complex policy challenges of our generation; leading and developing and applying policy tools; and convening key stakeholders to solve these challenges.
And it's our work together on quality of life that will support the federal government to continue delivering on better future measures and better quality of life outcomes for Canadians. Now in reflecting on what matters to improve the wellbeing of Canadians in all of our work, we can ensure that life in Canada remains something other countries will aspire to for generations to come. Thank you. Thank you. Miigwech.
[Sandra DiGnagbo appears full screen.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Thank you, Ms. Fortier. I would now like to share a word from Annie Boudreau, who will introduce us to the context of the Framework and explain how we all play a role in improving the quality of life of Canadians.
My leader, Annie, is the Assistant Secretary of the Expenditure Management Sector at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. I am very happy to be able to benefit from her input.
So, over to you, Annie.
[Annie Boudreau appears full screen. Text on screen: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat/Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.]
Annie Boudreau: Good afternoon and thank you for joining us for an introduction to the Quality of Life Framework for Canada. My name is Annie Boudreau, and I am the Assistant Secretary of the Expenditure Management Sector at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. I am delighted that we have this opportunity today to talk about quality of life. I think most of us would agree that the key objective of public policy is to improve the quality of life of all Canadians. For many of us, this is what motivated us to become public servants. It was not until recently, though, that the federal government made a concerted effort to define the integrated dimensions, both economic and non-economic, of Canadian's quality of life. As part of this effort, the federal government recognized two key aspects to quality of life outcomes.
First, that quality of outcomes may differ across different groups of Canadians. Second, that we should be aiming to sustain quality of life, or outcomes, over time. In fact, these are key aspects that the Canadian Quality of Life Framework was created to address. The framework aims to be an articulation of what matters most to Canadians supported by data to guide departments towards impacts that will improve Canadians' lives now, and in the future. Achieving these impacts will require a collaborative and integrated effort across government. This is why you are here today. Today you will hear from different departments to help you understand the context for implementation of the framework across departments.
The Treasury Board Secretariat—my sector, in particular—is responsible for the overall direction of the Framework, including its implementation outside of the budget context. First, we coordinate the government's efforts to advance the quality of life file. Then, we develop options for continuing to implement the Framework throughout the policy development cycle. Finally, we become involved in national and international mobilization activities concerning approaches to well-being.
However, all departments are involved in the Framework. This is because they have the necessary leverage to improve outcomes for quality of life in Canada concerning their respective mandates. For example, the Public Health Agency of Canada will share today their experience as a contributing user of the Quality of Life Framework.
After this event, I hope you will understand better why the Quality of Life Framework was developed, where to find data and how you can apply it in your work. As indicated by the title of this event, this is an introduction and an opportunity to discuss the purpose of the Framework. We are counting on you to contribute to implementing the Framework with the support of federal agencies. Together we can improve the quality of life in Canada. Thank you for your attention. Thank you. Thank you.
[Gayatri Jayaraman appears full screen.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Thank you, Ms. Boudreau, Annie, for sharing the context of your perspectives on the Quality of Life Framework. Now I am pleased to introduce my dear colleague, Craig Joyce, who will discuss the history of the Quality of Life Framework for Canada in relation to the national and global context. As the Public Service increasingly faces complex issues, integrating interrelated perspectives into decision making is essential now, more than ever. This is why we invited Craig to introduce us to the Quality of Life Hub and how we can leverage the data available to us to support evidence-based decision making.
[Gayatri Jayaraman and Craig Joyce appear in video chat panels.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Craig is the Unit Head of the Quality of Life Statistics Program at Statistics Canada. We are very fortunate to benefit from his expertise.
But Craig, before I pick your brain, I would like for us to hear from the audience. Colleagues who are joining us today, I hope you're connected to wooclap because you should be seeing a question popping up soon.
[Video shows wooclap sign-in slide, as described. Several words appear on the slide, including Wellness; Balance; Equality; Happiness; Experience.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: And I remind you that you can chime in by visiting wooclap.com and entering the code HXNNSY, all capital. We want to hear from you. So, here's the question. What is the first word that comes to mind when you think quality of life? And as the participants answer, Craig, I want to turn to you what is quality of life and why does it matter?
[Split screen: Craig Joyce and wooclap slide, as described. More adjectives for quality of life indicators appear, and move around the slide.]
Craig Joyce: Great. Well, thank you for the introduction and it's a pleasure to be here. And that I think is probably a sensible question to start with. So, when we talk about this concept, which sounds like a really broad concept, what do we really mean? And I think there are some complicated ways to answer that, but I think probably my preferred way to think about quality of life is, it is what it is. It's the experience that people have of their lives overall. And in fact, one of the measures that we have in the framework is actually measuring that in particular. We'll talk a little bit more about subjective wellbeing and how people evaluate the quality of their own lives according to their own chosen criteria.
But moreover, moving a little bit beyond that broad concept. The idea is that it's something that everyone working in any kind of branch of policy, whether it be economic, environmental, or social, can see themselves as working toward that higher level outcome in some way, either directly or indirectly. So, it is meant to be kind of a unifying concept that brings us all together and takes us out of maybe the silos that we sometimes feel that we're in when we're kind of in the day-to-day of our work.
And so, when you hear Minister Fortier and Annie Boudreau from TBS reflecting those sorts of sentiments, that is the spirit in which this was put forward is to give us the space to think in a multi-dimensional way.
So, I'd say three things about the concept, it's meant to make us think along, I think, three lines. So, one is holistically, which is kind of what I've just been saying. The framework measures quality of life subjectively, but it also measures a set of determinants of quality of life. There's about 84 measures in the framework that we'll talk a little bit more about. And those range from what I would call the deficits that you might experience, like poverty or homelessness, all the way through to what I like to think of as those protective factors. I come from a public health program background where we talk a lot about those sorts of things. So, things like what are the quality of your relationships like, and do you have access to green space? And it gives space to this range of determinants, not all of which we maybe think about all the time.
The second is it invites us to think about distribution. So, when you have a sense of how people are doing in the context of their own lives, you can start to see that not everyone enjoys good quality of life. And we can start to identify some populations who may be doing better than others, and we want to be concerned about those that aren't doing as well as we might like them to do. And later I'm going to walk you through the Quality of Life Hub and you'll see some visualization and I'll show you some population breakdowns that visualize that for us.
And then third, it invites us to think kind of over the long term and ask ourselves, are the things that we're doing today, are those sustainable? Are we building quality of life for ourselves now, which is compromising the ability of future generations to do the same in the future? And if so, how might we change course so that that is not the case? So, I think those are the three dimensions, like thinking distributionally, thinking sustainably, and thinking holistically that, that we're really trying to bring with this concept.
[Gayatri Jayaraman and Craig Joyce appear in video chat panels.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Amazing. There's a lot there. Thank you Craig, for unpacking this for us in such a succinct yet clear way. And looking at the wooclap, I see things like happiness, balance, health,
[Video shows wooclap slide, as described, full screen.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: which I think speaks to the ultimate outcomes that we're trying to attain, using metrics that we can use to monitor progress
[Gayatri Jayaraman and Craig Joyce appear in video chat panels.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: along the lines of being holistic, distributive, and futureproofing. So, thinking long-term. So, thank you for that. Let me then turn to the next question, which is why and how was the Quality of Life Framework developed? Can you give us a bit of intel on that, please?
Craig Joyce: Yes. So, the short answer to that question is it was developed because there was a 2019 mandate letter commitment given to Minister Fortier in her former capacity as the Associate Minister of Finance, before she became President of the Treasury Board, to better integrate quality of life measures into budgeting and decision making. And so it was initially developed at the Department of Finance to deliver on that mandate letter commitment. The more interesting answer to that question, I think, is the global context around where did that mandate letter commitment particularly come from?
[Craig Joyce appears full screen. Text on screen: Statistics Canada/Statistics Canada/Statistics Canada/Statistics Canada.]
Craig Joyce: And I like to point to 2009 as a really interesting inflection point, because that is the year coming out of the financial crisis. I sometimes forget that there was a financial crisis after the events of the last few years, but we had another crisis in 2008, 2009, which was the financial crisis. And there was a really sort of seminal report that was released. It was commissioned by the government of France and it was called the Stiglitz Report. And it was about asking ourselves, well, why did that happen? That particular crisis, why did we have the blind spots that we had, and how can we organise ourselves a little bit better so that we don't repeat history because that was something we would like to avoid.
And that report really became a bit of a manifesto for beyond GDP measurement. So, this notion that growth at all costs is not sustainable, that we need to think about multiple dimensions of quality of life. We need to think about sustainability. And there are many things that we need to consider simultaneously to make good public policy. And that became very influential, although it was a report for France, it had an influence that cascaded around the world.
So, after 2009, when that report is tabled, that's when you start to see, for example, multilateral institutions like the OECD and the UN come up with their own beyond GDP or wellbeing measurement frameworks. So, folks who are listening today might be very familiar with things like the Better Life Index out of the OECD; the UN releases on an annual basis, on World Happiness Day, it's World Happiness Reports, which are edited by John Helliwell, who's a Canadian academic and economist who specializes in subjective wellbeing. Those are the kinds of initiatives that really inspired national and subnational governments around the world to accelerate their efforts to think in this multi-dimensional, distributional, and long-term way.
So, I won't talk about all those national efforts, but one in particular that I do want to mention, and I thought it was interesting that the minister mentioned New Zealand in particular in her remarks, is that about six months before Minister Fortier got that mandate letter commitment, the government of New Zealand released what they called their Wellbeing Budget. And that got a lot of global attention and got a bit of a discussion. Well, reinvigorated a bit of a discussion around wellbeing and quality of life measurements and thinking beyond GDP and what the implications of that for public policy might be. And so we had an election that year. In November of that year is when that mandate letter came out. And I really see that commitment and this initiative as Canada's response to that zeitgeist, that global discussion that was taking place around that time and continues to today.
[Gayatri Jayaraman and Craig Joyce appear in video chat panels.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Amazing. Thanks Craig. What I'm hearing from you is a real kind of unpacking of the why, and the how, and recognizing that there's real momentum building to think globally. And I'm reflecting on other words that are popping up in wooclaps, such as equality; freedom; peace; in addition to happiness; balance; health. So, you can see how this all comes together.
So, let's dig a little deeper, Craig. We've talked a little bit about the why and the how. Can you get into a little bit of the what by describing the content of the Quality of Life Framework, its domains, and how it's structured?
[Split screen: Craig Joyce and slide, as described.]
Craig Joyce: Sure. So, I think folks can see what we call the wheel on their screen now. And essentially the framework, it is an indicator framework. There are 84 distinct indicators in the framework, which sounds like a lot. At the centre of the wheel is where we have housed some concepts that are pretty close to my heart because I'm very interested in subjective wellbeing and how it's measured and the tradition around that. But these overarching measures of how people evaluate the quality of their own lives.
The first of those is life satisfaction. So, I think probably a lot of people are familiar with that measure. We have a long standing tradition of measuring it at Stat Can and it's a bit of a global standard around subjective wellbeing. So, how do you feel about your life overall? And you draw upon whatever criteria are relevant to you in that assessment. So, it's a pure subjective measure going right to the source. The expert on anyone's quality of life is themselves and that is what that measure is. We added to that a measure of what we would call eudaimonic wellbeing. So, it's sense of meaning and purpose. That is a measure that was created because of this initiative. It is not something that we have measured at Stat Can before, it's kind of a newer way of thinking about how people think about the quality of their lives overall.
So, we've got those overarching measures that are subjective in nature at the centre. And then we have a set of about 82 indicators that speak to the various determinants of those outcome variables that we have organised into these five domains that you see around the wheel. We chose a wheel because there is no point on a circle that is more or less important than any other point, so that is communicating that all of these things are simultaneously important, and you need all five of them to have good quality of life. We know that these are all equally important determinants. So, there is no domain that's prioritized over another.
So, the domains are prosperity; health; society; environment; and good governance. And the 82 indicators are organised within those. And wrapped around the domains are what we call the fairness and inclusion and sustainability and resilience lenses. So, fairness and inclusion is really getting at that distributional aspect and it builds, quite deliberately, upon the tradition that we have of Gender Based Analysis+ across the government of Canada. So, it's about getting beyond population averages to understand what the distribution of outcomes looks like to start to identify what policy priorities could be through that distributional lens.
And then the sustainability and resilience lens is about, I think, a couple of things. We described this lens as the part of the framework that's still not quite as well developed as the other domains, and the other lens. But the idea here is to look at long-term trajectories of outcomes. So, how are we doing over time? And we're working really hard to build a regular predictable time series for all of these measures that we have in the framework, all 84 of them. But also, to kind of look at, what builds resilience?
So, assuming that we're going to have pandemics and we're going to have things that happen to us that are kind of exogenous shocks to our wellbeing, how can we build a society that is resilient, in which no particular group there's a disproportionate burden of those things? When I think about the pandemic, we saw there were certain groups that didn't do as well through the pandemic as others. And the idea is that we're not going to be able to prevent bad things from happening, but we can help the population navigate challenges in a way that is more fair and equitable than maybe we've been able to do. And so that's the idea behind that lens is to think long term, but also those sorts of protective factors, those resilience things that we can do to navigate adversity.
[Gayatri Jayaraman and Craig Joyce appear in video chat panels.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Thank you, Craig. I think we all recognize that the Quality of Life Framework and its intent, it's really to speak to how are people doing? How are people doing in the context of their wellbeing? And as humans we recognize that we are complex. And so, I think there's a bit of an appreciation brought to bear by way of the structure that is built into the framework that will help, hopefully, in its application.
So, I guess my final question to you, a series of questions to you, Craig, is really about that part, about the application of this work. Can you tell us a little bit about how the work has been catalogued, if you will, within the Quality of Life Hub? What is this hub? How can folks who have joined us today and beyond make use of it? And then perhaps also talk to us a little bit about how folks could be leveraging the data, speaking to the applicability, to implementing the hub to their practice. How could it be leveraged to support decision making? So, can you start off perhaps by showing us how to find the data on this hub?
[Split screen: Craig Joyce and slides, as described.]
Craig Joyce: Sure, I'd be happy to. So, when the framework was released in budget 2021, there was money given to Statistics Canada to set up the team that I now make part of, form part of, to fill quality of life data gaps. So, that's creating that time series on things and whatnot, but then also to develop a hub, like a user interface, to make that more accessible to folks as they go about policy making. So, in the first instance, this was designed to support budget submissions. My colleague Stephanie at Treasury Board will talk a little bit more about how that vision is expanding to think about other purposes.
And so, our role at Stat Can was, okay, there's a desire, an explicit desire, for greater use of evidence and decision making including through the creation of Cabinet documents, and so we want to use this framework architecture to build out a hub to make quality of life data more easily accessible to folks who need it on the fly.
So, I think folks can see the Quality of Life Hub screen, and the way that I find it is I just hit in Google Quality of Life Hub - Statistics Canada and it pops up. And when you arrive there, you'll land on this landing page and you'll see the visual of the hub, sorry of the framework, and some background information describing what the framework is, how it's organised, and what you can expect to find on the page. Some of the history that I talked through in responding to your earlier questions is documented on this about the Quality of Life Framework page. So, if you're interested in diving a little bit deeper into the origins of the framework and some of the really foundational documents, they're all linked to here on this page. And I won't dwell too long there because I want to get to the more interesting bits, but folks are welcome to navigate that as they see fit.
The hub itself is organised around the architecture of the framework, particularly the domain structure. So, all of the 84 indicator pages are in their respective domains. For example, if you're interested in health, you'll look and you'll see, okay, I want to know what's the latest that we have on physical activity? You click the physical activity page and you'll be met with a page that looks like this, which gives you all the relevant metadata that you need to interpret the indicators. So there'll be the domain structure where it sits within the framework; a definition, and then some detail on the measurement of that concept, including what sources measure it; a link to those. And often, if it's a survey question, will actually include upfront what those questions are so you can see actually what the data are.
What I find most helpful about this hub is I'm actually new to Stat Can and so I know, as someone who comes from outside Stat Can, when you come to Stat Can's website, there is rather a lot going on, and it can sometimes be hard to find what you need. And so what we're doing is taking a lot of that thinking and guesswork out for you and curating the latest tables that we have on these concepts, so you don't need to do anything more than to just go to the relevant page and click through. And all of the data sources are here. Any analysis, the most recent tables with whatever disaggregations that are available are all linked to here. And we have a team that's responsible for the hub. It's led by my colleague, Audrey, who's probably listening in on the call, she's not on the panel unfortunately today, but her team is really responsible for keeping the hub up to date. So, as there are new tables that come out, they get automatically put here so you don't have to search around for it.
So, just going back to that main page, I'm just going to go click back this way. Those are all the indicator pages; we're releasing those as they're ready. So, we have 84 indicators, about 67 of those are available right now with the remaining coming online over the next several months. There are a few pages that describe the efforts that are underway to support the two lenses. And then here - we'll kind of click through - we'll put anything that's relevant to the initiative overall. This will get updated as new things are released. We have our progress reports that describes the first two years of development work that we've done with our partners at central agencies on this. But I also want to show you the visualization because I suspect folks are kind of looking at the hub as I click through it and be like, wow, it's a lot of text! And what we really want this to evolve into is not so much metadata first and description, but more data first. And so, the visualization that we have here is kind of our first step in that direction.
What it does - it's taking a little time for it to load on my screen because I've got a number of things running - but we measure a lot of our indicators through the quarterly Canadian social survey. And so this is a visualization specific to that tool where we layer on quarterly data for age quality of life indicators. I'll just click here so you can see what they are. And they're visualized in a couple of different ways.
So, we've got a bit of a map here that you can see the distributions, the dark colours showing where you have a particularly strong outcome, the lighter colours where it's a little bit lighter. And then the others. In this first graph we'll give you a bit of a breakdown by gender. And the bottom one allows you to manipulate data by different demographic characteristics. So, we've got life satisfaction here, and it's pride month, so we'll look at the LGBTQ2 distribution because I think this is a really interesting one to show the value of thinking about distributions. If you look on the left, you see the population level outcome. If you look on the far right, you see everyone but LGBTQ people, and in the middle you see LGBTQ+ and their distribution of outcomes is almost exactly the opposite of what you see for the general population. And so that's a really interesting thing to know. And so, what we're looking to do is, this is a great start, but it's only eight indicators and so we're looking to build out different kinds of visualizations that put data at folks' fingertips in ways that they find useful.
So, I'm just going to go back and show you one more thing on the main page, which is the share your feedback button. I want to take time to show that in particular because the audience who's listening today, federal public servants across government, the hub is designed for really anyone to use, but very specifically for this particular audience. So, it's meant to support policy development in a variety of ways. And so anything you put in this comment box, it comes directly to us, to Audrey's team in particular. And we do read it, and we are really wanting your feedback, because the hub is in a constant state of development. So, there's lots that we can do with this, but we really want to know what you would like to see on the hub, so do take some time to navigate this after and let us know what you think.
And maybe the last thing I'll say, you can't see it, but if you were able to see my bookmark bar, I've got a couple bookmarks here. One is GEDs. So, if you're a federal public servant, that's probably your most used website. And the other is this hub. And so we are really aspiring for the hub to rise to the level of GEDs in your bookmark list, <laugh>. It's meant to be something that you visit and visit often and use regularly. So, I'll stop there.
[Craig Joyce and Sandra DiGnagbo appear in video chat panels.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Thank you, Craig, for this demonstration. It was very informative and interesting. Thank you for teaching us how to benefit from the Quality of Life Hub.
[Sandra DiGnagbo appears full screen.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: I was really impressed with the amount of data available to us on the site. So I encourage you all to visit the Quality of Life Hub for more information. And as Craig said before, as more information becomes available, it will be progressively added to the Hub. So, do not hesitate to keep visiting the Hub.
And now I would like to welcome our next speaker, Jasmin Thomas. Jasmin is a Senior Economist in the Economic Policy Branch at the Department of Finance Canada. She joins us to emphasize how the Quality of Life Framework relates to the budget process, as well as the role you and your organizations play in supporting this process. She also has some tips to share on how you can improve the quality of your budget proposals and accurately assess their contributions to components of quality of life in Canada.
So, Jasmin, we are very happy to have you here with us.
[Sandra DiGnagbo and Jasmin Thomas appear in video chat panels.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: The floor is yours. Over to you.
Jasmin Thomas: Thank you so much, Sandra. I'm going to start by zooming out to the big picture of the budget process.
[Jasmin Thomas appears full screen. Text on screen: Department of Finance Canada.]
Jasmin Thomas: At the highest level possible, we can think of there being three key phases to the budget, and quality of life can be incorporated into each of those phases.
First, there's the development and planning phase. This occurs before departments submit their proposals to Finance. And at Finance Canada, analysis of quality of life indicators during this phase can support planning exercises. The next phase is the decision making phase. And this occurs, obviously given the name, when decisions are being made and after departments have submitted them to Finance. In this phase, quality of life assessments are a feature of all individual budget proposals. This phase also includes the publication of the budget.
The third phase is the implementation and tracking phase, which occurs after decisions have been made and the budget has been published. In this phase, the intention is for quality of life indicators to help with tracking policy implementation and impacts and to highlight areas where policy may need to be enhanced, or where more policy attention might need to be introduced. The third phase ultimately leads back into the first phase, kind of closing the budget cycle and creating a loop.
So, now that I've given you a big overview of the process, I want to talk specifically about the decision making phase, which is likely less familiar, or even entirely new territory, for this audience. But first, before I dig in, I want to ask you a question. Sandra, could you please ask the question?
[Sandra DiGnagbo and Jasmin Thomas appear in video chat panels.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Absolutely, Jasmine. So, participants, if you are logged in to wooclap.com, you will soon see the question, which is as follows: Have you ever used
[Video shows wooclap slide, as described, full screen.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: the Quality of Life Framework and its indicators to support a budget proposal or other policy or program initiative? The answers are: No, never. Yes, once or twice. Or yes, three or more times. So go ahead and submit your answers.]
[Split screen: Jasmin Thomas and wooclap slide, as described.]
Jasmin Thomas: Well, we see some interesting results. I definitely did not expect it to be so heavily weighted to no/never. So this is actually really exciting because what I can offer you today is definitely going to be helpful information in giving you a background on how the decision making phase works, and may also help you with your own budget's missions. So, with that I'm going to dive in to explain it a little bit more.
I think the most important thing to know about this process is that although it sounds like an independent exercise, Finance Canada actually benefits greatly from the expertise of departments throughout the process. Departments are closer to their proposed policies than Finance Canada and so departments are better placed to assess the quality of life impacts of their proposals. As we do with all other budget information, our job is to vet the quality of life information submitted to us by departments to play the challenge function role. This means we need departments to submit high quality, well thought out analysis. Since our job is to vet information, it helps to collect that information in a cohesive and consistent manner. To do so, we've placed a quality of life impacts template in the main document that departments are required to fill out for their budget proposals. By getting all departments to use the same template, we can ensure consistency in the information collected across proposals.
Once we've received this information, Finance Canada analysts will use it in the development of briefing notes for the Deputy Minister, and the Minister of Finance. These briefing notes also support the Privy Council office's briefing of the Prime Minister on budget proposals. If a proposal is approved by the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, Quality of Life information is reflected in the Impacts Report, which accompanies the publication of the budget. And in this Impacts Report you will also find a summary of the gender and diversity impacts for each new budget measure.
So, that's our role at Finance, and how departments fit into the mix. I kind of have a really high rapid pace level,
[Jasmin Thomas appears full screen.]
Jasmin Thomas: but before I pass the mic back to the moderators, I want to give some really high level tips for those who are new to the process, which it looks like about 8 out of 10 of you are new to the process. So, the first tip I have is that quality of life information in the budget template is only a tool for Finance Canada to collect information in a coherent and consistent way. It's not meant to be where analysis happens. Analysis should already have been completed and the potential impact of the policy on quality of life should be well understood. The template can definitely serve as a guide for assisting analysts and thinking through the quality of life impacts of their proposals, but it should not be the analysis in and of itself.
Second, when considering quality of life impacts, consider not only those impacts that are direct, but also those that might be indirect and operate through another channel. Just because they're indirect doesn't mean that they are unknowable. This point applies not just to quality of life, but also GBA+ because we want to know what the impact is, which is quality of life, but also who is impacted, which is GBA+.
And third, always read the guidance to ensure you're using the most up-to-date template available on the Finance Canada website and that you're filling in the template correctly. This template, as with all other templates that are a part of the budget process, are iteratively refreshed every year as part of internal postmortem budget discussions. And using the wrong template can make everything a little bit more difficult for everybody.
So, with that, I will pass it back to the moderators. Thank you.
[Gayatri Jayaraman appears full screen.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Amazing. Thank you. Thank you Jasmine. Thank you for providing us this feedback and for your interesting presentation and tips for informing the quality of our collective budget proposals. Next up, Stephanie Gan, hello.
[Gayatri Jayaraman and Stephanie Gan appear in video chat panels.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: The Director of Frameworks Integration in the results division of the Treasury Board Secretariat. Stephanie has been intimately involved in the implementation of the Quality of Life Framework and she's here to share with us more about the integration of the framework beyond the budget. Stephanie, delighted to have you here with us and eager to hear from you. Tell us more about the Quality of Life Framework. How can we apply it to our work?
Stephanie Gan: Thanks so much, Gayatri. I am really quite thrilled to be with all of you here today to talk about the Quality of Life Framework, particularly from the perspective of the Treasury Board Secretariat.
[Stephanie Gan appears full screen. Text on screen: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat /Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.]
Stephanie Gan: As you've heard, I'm part of the TBS Framework's Integration team. We are the overall policy lead for the framework and this means we're responsible for putting the framework into practice across government, particularly in decision making beyond the budget, as well as reporting. But it's still a work in progress. So, please take note: I'm not here to launch any tools; guidance; documents just yet, but it really is a chance for me to give you an idea of what's to come in the area of application.
I'll recognize first that TBS might have the nominal policy lead, but the previous panelists will have made it quite evident TBS will be building on the foundation of a conceptual framework, a repository of quality of life data created by the Department of Finance and Statistics Canada. They will indeed be our key partners going ahead with Quality of Life Implementation. But so will you. All of you. Even if you don't know it yet.
You've heard that in Canada, as in other countries, quality of life originated in the national and international "Beyond GDP" movement. This movement is characterized by a growing realization that the measure of a nation's success cannot be limited to GDP growth. This movement is also characterized by a better appreciation of how the indicators of a good quality of life are a set of measures, like creating food, like housing [INAUDIBLE], physical health, mental health, sense of belonging or access to a walkable neighbourhood.
This holistic approach is integrated and all the more important as the strategic challenges facing Canada today are increasingly complex. In fact, federal government programs can influence many of these quality of life indicators, and programs can have different effects on different measures of well-being. They can also help some but not all people, and sometimes they can be useful in the media, but not in the long term. Sometimes you have to compromise. The Quality of Life Framework is designed to be the overarching or umbrella framework that connects all of these issues to improve public policy development and outcomes for Canadians.]
Stephanie Gan: So, why is TBS leading Quality of Life Implementation? As you might know, TBS provides support to TB, Treasury Board, the only statutory cabinet committee, which acts as the government's management board. We, as TBS, also provide oversight of the government's spending and support government reporting to Parliament. Treasury Board and TBS have a number of tools to establish outcomes for deputy ministers and management practices. As a result, we're currently looking at how to ensure the integration of quality of life data into TB submissions; consideration of the framework into plans for valuations and performance measurement. We're looking at alignment of program outcomes and quality of life indicators.
We also have a role in supporting the government to report on its plans and achievements through the departmental plans and departmental results reports. TBS sets the guidelines for these reports and our president tables them in Parliament. So, we're looking at how to reflect quality of life in these and other forms of government reporting to increase transparency of the impacts of government activities that matter the most to Canadians. We do this right [INAUDIBLE] also streamline government reporting processes for departments, too.
But the Treasury Board Secretariat is limited in what it can do. Implementing a quality of life approach will require a whole-of-government effort. For their part, departments will need to consider their mandate and responsibilities in a broader perspective and will need to consider: quality of life in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs; collecting and benefiting from disaggregated quality of life data; building capacity for analysis and reporting of results; and adopting more horizontal work.
None of these steps are [INAUDIBLE], and it will take time to achieve our objectives. But you can start by asking a few questions, like in which area of quality of life does your work traditionally contribute towards. You might ask yourself what other areas your sector influences. Could you coordinate better with your partners to advance similar or related program objectives. Today's political issues do not allow us to stick to our own little piece of the puzzle when looking for sustainable solutions that will change the lives of Canadians.
In closing, I will say this: We are all in this together. As public servants, we share the responsibility to work for a Canada that offers a better quality of life. As [INAUDIBLE], we intend to use and improve the Quality of Life Framework to build tools, guide you to data, and deliver the challenge function to help you strive for those outcomes, be better able to reach them and take them into account.
Maybe I would just end by saying there will be questions, even if I have emphasized this, for tools and guidance today, know that they will come. And coming out of this particular event, we might have some links and email addresses for you and a link to our GCconnex page where you can find out more and stay tuned for what's next to come. Thank you.
[Sandra DiGnagbo appears full screen.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate what you said and what you mentioned towards the end of your message; it really makes me think about how the Quality of Life Framework applies to me as an individual and how I can contribute personally, but also through my work. I believe that we all have a key role to play in improving the well-being of Canadians through our work and in our respective sectors. So, your presentation really gave us good food for thought.
Before we go to questions, I'd like to introduce our colleague, Kelsey Lucyk, who is here to tell us about her organization's experience with using the Framework.
[Sandra DiGnagbo and Kelsey Lucyk appear in video chat panels.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Kelsey is the Acting Manager in the Strategic Policy Branch at the Public Health Agency of Canada. We look forward to hearing her views and the lessons she has learned that may allow other departments, like yours, to benefit from and consider in their own work.
Kelsey, thank you so much for being here with us today. Can you tell us what quality of life means to your agency's mandate and what has been your experience to date with the Quality of Life Framework?
Kelsey Lucyk: I would be delighted to. The mission of the Public Health Agency of Canada is to promote and protect the health of Canadians with mandates in specific areas such as disease prevention, health promotion, and health equity.
[Kelsey Lucyk appears full screen. Text on screen: Public Health Agency of Canada / Public Health Agency of Canada.]
Kelsey Lucyk: And I'd invite everyone on the meeting to just take a moment and think about your own health and being healthy. What comes to mind? With an audience of public service servants, we might expect responses like eating a healthy diet, or exercising, or genetics, or work-life balance and having access to healthcare. But from public health evidence, what we know is that the majority of what influences our health is much broader and our health is shaped by how resources, powers, and opportunities are distributed, both within and between populations. Things like income distribution; wealth distribution; the quality of our environments; housing; social connectedness; racism; discrimination; and many other factors all influence our health.
So, this is to say that health is largely shaped by the many domains and components of the Quality of Life Framework. And in the health field, we would refer to these things as the social and structural determinants of health. So, I think you can already begin to appreciate Public Health's interest in the framework. The framework matters to my agency precisely because from a public health perspective, all of its domains contribute to the health of the population. In the public health sense, health and quality of life are somewhat interchangeable and the pursuit of one is in effect the pursuit of the other. So, the framework's success will contribute directly to my agency achieving its mandate. And most of the influences on health actually lay outside of the health and medical care sectors, so it's essential that we collaborate with other departments to advance our mutual goals of improving the lives of Canadians, so everyone has a fair and just opportunity to reach their full potential and health potential.
To speak specifically to our experience with the Quality of Life Framework,
as the federal government incorporates the Quality of Life Framework into decision-making, we see an opportunity for public health officials to become champions of the Framework. This is because of the Framework's ability to address the root causes of health and well-being through collaboration with non-health sectors. Indeed, on the one hand, one of the main strategic advantages of the Framework is its harmonization with other government frameworks. On the other hand, the fundamental considerations of many of these frameworks are also based on the social determinants of health and equity. Many of us are familiar with Sex- and Gender-Based Analysis Plus. This analysis has now become integrated into our decision-making process and into the federal government process. This has improved the consideration of equity in our strategic approaches.
In addition, mainstream initiatives, such as Canada's Anti-Racism Strategy, the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan and also the National Action Plan on Combatting Hate, address the structural determinants of health in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner.
Finally, the Quality of Life Framework provides a way to strengthen the integration and coordination of these frameworks as well as many other frameworks.
Based on our early experiences with implementing the framework at the Public Health Agency, we've started to draw some preliminary observations and reflections and promising practices that might be helpful to others as well.
First, because the framework is a holistic framework, it prompts all of us to think beyond our departmental mandates. The framework is a concrete tool that advances a whole of government approach, which has been a regular call of action from our Chief Public Health Officer for her efforts to advance health equity. Having the framework built into our existing processes, such as budget proposals, helps to regularize the process of thinking across sectors to become a reflexive part of our work as public servants.
At the agency, we've taken some specific steps to make the framework a systematic part of our way of doing business. For example, the Quality of Life Framework for each PHAC budget proposal undergoes a centralized review to support programs in applying the indicators and thinking through broader considerations and links to non-health domains. Another way we've brought the framework into our work is by explicitly referencing it in joint work with other departments in order to provide a policy basis for our shared objectives. And as a final example, we are gathering and sharing lessons learned through the development of the framework on best practices for effective collaboration across departments.
A second reflection from early implementation is that the framework is a driver to broaden and strengthen the evidence base related to all of the factors that influence health and wellbeing, not just the economic ones, and ensure that this information is accessible for decision making. I'm sure many of us have heard the Q, what are the benefits and impacts for a particular proposal or initiatives. And the Quality of Life Framework helps us to answer this question in a more balanced way with common foundations. That being said, as our colleagues have mentioned, there is a need to continue to strengthen the data and indicators that under-lie the framework to ensure that it resonates for all Canadians.
So, in particular, understanding wellbeing from different perspectives, most notably Indigenous communities. And as well our data collection systems need to better represent systemically or structurally marginalized populations. So, to achieve this, we need to continue to consult to improve the acceptability, relevance and utility of the framework for underrepresented populations. And we need to be creative in how the Quality of Life Framework can incorporate diverse ways of noting to complement quantitative data.
Finally, the fact that the framework's indicators are disaggregated allows us to consider how quality of life factors are distributed within in-between populations, which supports equity-based responses. With the multiple levels of information on quality of life, we can work in ways that seek to improve the systems and structures that shape wellbeing, while also amplifying effects for certain population groups to improve wellbeing for all.
In closing, we see a lot of potential in the framework as an opportunity to advance public health goals in a way that supports alignment and with other departmental objectives. And additionally, some of the big challenges facing Canada like climate change; the nature of work; mental health and substance abuse, sorry, substance use, are complex and multi-dimensional and require approaches that consider equity and bring together diverse sectors of government. So, the framework has the potential to meet this need for more holistic approach to developing federal policies and programs.
Thanks very much, and looking forward to exploring opportunities for how we can further work together and enhance the framework.
[Gayatri Jayaraman appears full screen.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Amazing. Thank you, Kelsey. The Quality of Life Framework offers many insights into the well-being of Canadians; that's clear. It was very interesting to learn about this Framework from a public health perspective, as you have already shared.
Colleagues, we had hoped to have some time for Q and A, but I'm looking at the time and we have run out of time. So, here's what we are proposing. We will be sharing, after this presentation, links and channels as well as our generic email addresses so that you can pose these questions to us. We already have received some questions. We're monitoring it in the background, so the questions we have received, we will take it back and respond to the provider if in fact we do have your email contact. So, that's on us. We will do that. I do encourage you though, to continue to take a look at the whole amount of material that we have provided to you, so we can do that in a way to ensure that we do respond to your questions that we have.
So, the Q and A, we're going to pass only because we don't have the time for it, but our intent is to ensure that we get back to you with the questions that you have posed to us as well as share links, channels, generic email addresses so that the conversation can continue because we want it to continue. One of the questions that did come about that I want to make sure you have access to, because this was a question posed by many of you, is how this framework links to other frameworks. So, let me just take 30 seconds to do that before passing on to you, Sandra, to introduce Josée Bégin.
So, many of you in the audience are likely very familiar with other frameworks developed by the Government of Canada, like the Gender Based Analysis+, the Canadian Indicator Framework for Sustainable Development Goals, and the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.
So, one of the first steps that the Department of Finance took in designing this framework was to stand up an interdepartmental, intergovernmental ADM committee that was tasked with doing the mapping of existing frameworks against the indicators that you see in these frameworks. I want to assure you that the homework has been done to ensure that there is cross kind of walk done between this framework and the others. And the intention through this framework is to actually provide a bit of a chapeau that can be a point of reference, which then speaks to the other frameworks that are on hand as well. So, I did want to take the time to make sure that that question that has come up repeatedly was addressed. The rest we'll hopefully address through the ways that I had suggested.
So, with that, I am going to turn over to you, Sandra, to introduce our last speaker.
[Sandra DiGnagbo appears full screen.]
Sandra DiGnagbo: Thank you, Gaya. For the last part of the event, I am pleased to present to you the closing remarks of Josée Bégin, who is the Assistant Chief Statistician at Statistics Canada. She will share her perspective on the Quality of Life Framework for Canada and also tell us about what awaits us in the future. Over to you, Josée.
[Josée Bégin appears full screen. Text on screen: Statistics Canada / Statistics Canada.]
Josée Bégin: Good afternoon. My name is Josée Bégin, and I am the Assistant Chief Statistician for Social Health and Labour Statistics at Statistics Canada. I want to close today's event by thanking the organisers at the Canada School of Public Service, and today's speakers for their hard work putting this important learning event together. Events like this one that bring us all together in the spirit of collaboration are so important. Most of all, I want to extend my gratitude to the many attendees who have joined us today from across government to learn a little more about what we've been doing on the Quality of Life Initiative these past few years.
For some time, Statistics Canada has had to face fundamental changes in the needs of the users of its data. We all know that the challenges we face as a society are increasingly complex. The climate crisis, the pandemic, the rising cost of living and housing shortages across the country are some of the policy issues that many of you here today face on a daily basis. While these issues all pose particular challenges, they are all complex and multidimensional, they all raise important distributional considerations, and they have long-term implications that may last.
Our vision for the Quality of Life Statistics Program is to help you meet these challenges by providing frequent, disaggregated current data on the things that matter most in the lives of Canadians.
The Quality of Life program has become woven into the DNA of our organization, leveraging the existing expertise and statistical infrastructure that we have across our institution and better integrating our efforts across social, economic and environmental portfolios. It also relies on the policy expertise that exists across government. And many of you with us today have been important advisors to my team as we continue to build a program helping to ensure that what we produce is relevant and useful.
As you saw earlier, one of our major efforts has been the development of the Quality of Life Data Hub, a resource made primarily for all of you as you continue to support decision making in a variety of ways. Our vision is that this hub puts integrated and disaggregated data on the many dimensions of quality of life in Canada at your fingertips. Please take some time to explore the hub and share your ideas about how we can develop this further to meet your data needs.
Thank you once again for joining us today to learn about the progress we've been making on the Quality of Life Initiative. I hope this has been illuminating and that you can see how your own work supports our efforts and how we are setting ourselves up to support you in turn. I look forward to a continued collaboration with you in the future. Thank you. Thank you.
[Gayatri Jayaraman appears full screen.]
Gayatri Jayaraman: Thank you, Josée, for sharing your vision and for inspiring us to learn more about this initiative and how we can participate, frankly, in improving the quality of life of Canadians. Before we close, just a couple of points that I'd like to leave you all with.
First, the Quality of Life Framework is really intended for us to come together as a public service across departments so that we can start in a very consolidated, purposeful way speaking to how Canadians are doing. This is important. I know it's important for each of us as individuals, it's important for us as public servants. This is what the global community is also doing, and Canada is absolutely a leader in this space, so we have a unique opportunity to continue to build on the great momentum that has already transpired.
The second point is that the Quality of Life Framework really distills key elements from other frameworks, so please don't leave this place thinking that frameworks are in competition. They're not. They're actually all coming together. In terms specifically of the Gender Based Analysis+, you can see that reflected in the cross-cutting fairness and inclusion lens in the sustainability frameworks that are considered. Those are parts of other cross-cutting lenses such as the resiliency lens that you see in the framework. Also, the alignment is strong at the indicator level and each indicator page in the hub that Craig shared with you includes the linkages to other frameworks. So, we're thinking as a whole, we're coming together, we're thinking as a community - that is the intent. And you have the practical applications of this work as shared with you by Jasmin and Stephanie, as well as Kelsey.
Final note, which is that many of you have shared absolutely amazing specific questions about the framework and how to use it in your work.
Gayatri Jayaraman: I know this is the first learning and training event, but it won't be the last. This is what I would like to emphasize.
As we take your list of questions into development, or as we take a view at your list of questions, we'll certainly take them into consideration as we develop future training sessions along with the Canada School of Public Service, CSPS. So, thank you so, so much for that as well and for the collaboration on this regard when it comes to the training. I want to thank all of our panelists and presenters. I want to thank those who've been working tirelessly behind the scenes to help set this up. Thank you all for joining for your thoughtful engagement with the framework and with today's event.
With that, Sandra, I think we can conclude this event, eh? So, thank you all very much. Have a great rest of day and weekend. Bye-bye.
[The CSPS logo appears on screen.]
[The Government of Canada Logo appears and fades to black.]