If you can remember as far back as May/June 2019, you might recall getting an envelope in the mail asking you take part in Engage Nova Scotia’s Quality of Life Survey. Eighty thousand such requests made their way into mailboxes across the province, over 12,000 citizens answered the call.
The survey, consisting of 250 questions, measured eight domains of well-being: education, living standards, healthy populations, time use, leisure and culture, environment, democratic engagement, and community vitality. The results of the survey were released last week. And while things look very different now compared to 11 months ago, the survey’s findings provide insight into how we can move forward after the COVID-19 crisis has abated, highlighting our strengths and weaknesses.
The province was split into 10 regions. The two that most correspond to the readership base of the Guysborough Journal are Antigonish-Guysborough with 861 respondents and the Strait Area-Western Cape Breton division with 512 survey participants. While some of the measurements reported in the synopsis of the data from the survey are based on a province-wide assessment on a particular question, the focus here will be on the aforementioned regions.
First and perhaps most striking, is the reported level of life satisfaction, which is highest in the Antigonish-Guysborough region (7.95 on a 10 point scale) and high in general for the province as a whole (7.68 on a 10 point scale). Looking at the areas where respondents in the Antigonish-Guysborough region rated the highest, helps explain why this area is so content.
The feeling of social isolation is lowest in the Antigonish-Guysborough region. The area also ranks highest in reporting good to excellent mental health. And while 1 in 5 Nova Scotians rate the quality of Health Care as good or excellent, respondents in Antigonish-Guysborough rate that metric at 1 in 10.
In addition to good healthcare, area residents also report being in good health. Forty-five per cent of Nova Scotians feel they are in good to excellent physical health. Survey participants in the Antigonish-Guysborough region rate themselves at 47.1 per cent on that measure. Only Halifax Regional Municipality ranks higher at 48.3 per cent.
People in the area rated their social interaction with others highly. Volunteer rates are highest in the Antigonish-Guysborough region – 66.9 per cent versus 52.1 per cent for Nova Scotia as a whole. The region also has the highest sense of belonging to one’s community and the strongest sense of community; the latter accolade is shared with the respondents from the Strait Area-Western Cape Breton division. These two areas also attended more music concerts and dance performances than any other part of the province; no doubt that includes a few jigs and reels.
It is interesting to note, and good for the future of publishing, that survey respondents in Antigonish-Guysborough read the most books, newspapers and magazines for leisure (90.2 per cent). That may be a function of the high rates of educational attainment in the area. According to the profile of respondents, people in the Antigonish-Guysborough region come second only to the HRM in per cent of population with graduate degrees (HRM 17.7, Antigonish-Guysborough 17.4) and university degrees (HRM 32.2, Antigonish-Guysborough 29.8).
There are always areas that need work in any community, for the people in the Antigonish-Guysborough region the most pressing issue is access to childcare. This area was also highlighted in the recent Strait Region Vital Signs report released in February 2020.
Overall the survey indicates that Nova Scotia is doing well in terms of quality of life as reported by survey respondents. And the Strait Region is perhaps doing best of all.