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Orillians satisfied with environment, but not so much with government: survey

Community Wellbeing Survey highlights shared with community; Data 'will help us to create programs and collaborations that will benefit the community'
2019-04-30 Bryan Smale CIW
Bryan Smale, director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, presents highlights of the Orillia and Area Canadian Index of Wellbeing final report Tuesday at city hall. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters

The Community Wellbeing Survey results are in, and they’re shining a light on some of the social issues faced by residents of Orillia and surrounding townships.

Highlights of the Orillia and Area Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) final report were shared earlier this week at city hall.

The overall well-being for Orillia, Oro-Medonte, Ramara and Severn is 4.93 out of seven. That was the average when considering all eight “domains” used for the survey: community vitality (4.97), democratic engagement (4.33), education (4.78), environment (5.65), healthy populations (5.02), leisure and culture (5.00), living standards (4.87) and time use (4.79).

“On average, across the community, most people feel a sense of belonging here,” said Bryan Smale, a professor with the University of Waterloo and director of the CIW, who worked with Information Orillia to complete the project.

However, the survey results show women and younger residents, and those who are single or have never been married, have below-average well-being, while men, older residents and those who are a couple with no kids living at home tend to have above-average well-being.

“Get them out of your basement,” Smale said in response to empty-nesters feeling more satisfied.

Area residents indicated they were most satisfied with the environment and least satisfied with democratic engagement.

Those with below-average well-being as it relates to democratic engagement were more likely to attend local, municipal or neighbourhood meetings and were more likely to write a letter or email to a municipal official about a local issue.

Those who said they have above-average wellbeing were more likely to agree that programs and services of the local government have made the community better.

While the top five social issues varied among the municipalities surveyed, affordable housing was ranked No. 1 in all four of them.

The results of the survey, which were two years in the making, show women, local-income residents and younger adults “appear to be falling behind in their well-being,” Smale noted in his report.

His suggestion for addressing those concerns: "greater access to opportunities in community; strengthen connections to community; build trust in institutions, especially government; and ensure all voices are heard in policy development.”

Orillia Coun. Ted Emond is looking forward to using the “richness of information that we’ve never had before” to make positive change and policy decisions in Orillia.

“I’m hoping this will trigger us, as a community, to pull together groups that are passionate about their particular interests,” and work together for the common good, he said.

With affordable housing and mental health being prominent parts of the report, that information will be useful to an organization like the Lighthouse shelter, said its executive director, Linda Goodall.

‘Having data like this for the community will help us to create programs and collaborations that will benefit the community in Orillia and area,” she said.

Carmine Stumpo, president and CEO of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, wasn’t surprised to see social isolation come up as a problem area.

“Social isolation is worse than any disease. We can manage disease,” he said of the hospital. “We can’t manage social isolation.”

The goal is for the data to be used to better inform policy decisions among government, but it could also help non-profit groups when they’re applying for funding.

“I hope it challenges you,” Smale told the audience. “I hope it challenges some assumptions you have about the community. I hope it confirms some assumptions you have about the community.”

The survey source report is expected to be posted to Information Orillia’s website within the next couple of days. A more detailed report will be given to the survey partners.

Almost 9,500 households from Orillia, Oro-Medonte, Ramara and Severn were invited to participate in the survey. The estimated response rate was 10.7 per cent — more than expected for a general-population survey. There were 856 “viable” respondents.

Highlights from the survey


Below-average well-being

  • Lower job security
  • Work interferes with personal life
  • Less likely to be able to pay bills on time
  • Less likely to be able to pay mortgage or rent on time
  • Less work flexibility

Above average well-being

  • Better job fit and more opportunities for job promotion
  • Have enough money to buy things they needed
  • Have enough money to buy things they wanted
  • More likely to have a regular weekday schedule
  • Shorter commute times


Below-average well-being

  • More likely to experience negative impacts due to mental health issues
  • Eat healthy meals less often
  • Participate less in vigorous exercise and participate less in light exercise

Above average well-being

  • Better self-rated physical health
  • Better self-rated mental health
  • Perceive both quality and accessibility of the health-care services to be better
  • More likely to get good quality exercise


Below-average well-being

More often feel rushed

Have longer commutes

Less time to:

  • get enough sleep

  • prepare healthy meals

  • be with partner

  • be together with family

  • socialize

Work interferes more with personal life

Above average well-being

More likely to have flexible work schedules

More time to:

  • keep in shape

  • nurture spiritual side

  • be with children

  • form/sustain relationships

  • participate in community

Higher work-life balance

More vacation days



Below-average well-being

More likely to have taken courses to get started

Lower perceived availability of formal education opportunities

Courses seen as too expensive

Courses seen as offered at inconvenient times

Above-average well-being

More likely to have taken courses to improve skills or qualifications in current job

More likely to have taken courses for interest and to see them as more available

More schools nearby where they can upgrade their educational qualifications


Below-average well-being

Perceive traffic congestion as worse

Feel air and water quality are not as good

Less likely to participate in events to protect the natural environment

Less likely to conserve energy

Less likely to buy local foods

Above-average well-being

Perceive quality of natural environment as higher

See more opportunities to enjoy nature in community and in neighbourhood

Feel more responsibility to protect natural environment

More likely to reuse materials and to reduce and separate waste


Below-average well-being

More socially isolated

Less likely to feel their needs are fulfilled by the community

More likely to be a member of a faith-based group

Experience discrimination more often

Feel less safe walking alone after dark

Above-average well-being

More likely to volunteer

Have more close friends and relatives

Strong sense of belonging to community

Stronger social bonds

Feel help is available if needed

Greater trust in others

More confidence in institutions


Below-average well-being

Use parks, playgrounds, and trails less often

Watch television more regularly

Perceive recreation and culture facilities as less accessible:

  • too costly

  • not convenient

  • no child care available

Above-average well-being

Use community recreation centres, libraries, and arts facilities more often

Socialize with friends more

Perceive better access to recreation and culture facilities:

  • easy to get to

  • facilities are welcoming


Below-average well-being

More likely to attend local, municipal, neighborhood, or meeting

More likely to participate in a local event in support of a charitable organization

More likely to write a letter/email/spoke to a municipal official about a local issue

Above-average well-being

More interest in federal, provincial, and local politics

More likely to agree programs/services of the local government have made community better off

Consider themselves better qualified to participate in politics

Feel well informed and have better understanding of issues facing the region