Over the course of the next few days, 80,000 Nova Scotians will open their mailboxes and find an envelope containing an invitation to participate in a survey like no other. A survey meant to capture important insights into the hearts and souls of our communities and our province. Those insights will only get captured if these Nova Scotians see the invitation, open it, go online and complete the survey.
The Quality of Life survey is part of a first-of-its-kind initiative being led by Engage Nova Scotia – a non-profit organization focused on building a culture of engagement, collaboration and shared action to enable the transformative goals set out in the One Nova Scotia report.
In partnership with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo, Engage Nova Scotia is launching a survey to help Nova Scotians “measure what we treasure.” Strong participation in the survey will generate a province-wide report and 10 regional reports that distill for us the areas where we see ourselves thriving – and the areas where we may need help.
Why does that matter? Well, as president of Nova Scotia Community College, quality of life matters a great deal. In fact, it’s central to our mission: to improve Nova Scotia’s economy and quality of life through education and innovation. The people who came together to define this mission decades ago realized something fundamental – economy and quality of life are intertwined. Skills development in and of itself does not create sustainable, vibrant and resilient communities – all qualities that are essential to our collective ability to participate in a rapidly evolving, global economy.
There is a great deal of data available about jobs, skills gaps and labour participation rates; it can be spliced geographically, demographically and by sector. We can compare this data year over year to our own graduate employment rates. All very helpful in shaping the 130 plus programs we offer in 16 communities and online.
There is less available data about quality of life. What we have access to, we incorporate into our planning. We turn to sources of information and inspiration like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, designed to address global
challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. Our strategic plan, Here and Now, is built on pillars that consider these goals and our opportunity to help advance Nova Scotia’s quality of life.
Imagine – if we had more data that captured our experience with and perception of quality of life in Nova Scotia at the community and provincial level. Imagine the insights that could come from that data and the potential for those insights to inform the programming and services that we – and other like-minded organizations – provide in our communities.
The One Nova Scotia report and action plan created a road map for all of us to play a part in transforming our province’s future. I’m grateful to serve as the first convener of the One Nova Scotia Collective – a group of local economic organizations, economists and academics who track and report objectively on our collective progress. Together, we’ve created the One NS Dashboard – an online tool that is updated regularly with data that demonstrates progress – or lack of progress – against the One Nova Scotia goals. The Dashboard gives us credible, publicly available information to inform public dialogue and activate community leadership – critical to our success.
I believe Engage Nova Scotia’s Quality of Life survey will add a level of depth and meaning to this conversation. I’m a proud champion of it, as are the campus principals throughout the province who are working with leaders in their communities to bring awareness to the survey and its importance.
So, if, when you open your mailbox over the coming days, you find a Quality of Life – Measuring What Matters invitation, I humbly invite you to go online and complete the survey. Share your voice and be part of a new conversation.
Don Bureaux is president of Nova Scotia Community College.