How well are we?
There is no single or simple way to measure wellness. Let’s look just at physical well-being. We could look at health outcomes – how many Yukoners have diabetes, or high blood pressure. Or we could look at health behaviours – what we do that has a positive, or negative, effect on our health. For example, we could look at how many of us smoke, how active we are, and how many fruits and vegetables we eat every day. And this is just a small sample of what we could measure.
To do a good job of measuring wellness, we would also want to look at the other five dimensions of wellness across all ages (from infants to seniors) and in all settings in which people live, learn, work, and play. The number of ways we can measure wellness quickly becomes unmanageable.
Yukon is not alone in wrestling with this challenge. All provinces and territories – individually and collectively – are trying to come up with a small number of indicators that paint a picture of the health and well-being of their population. There is no easy solution, but we can start by looking at some of the information we already have available. Most of this information comes from surveys, but we also have information that is collected by the programs and services that governments fund or deliver.
What we know is that there are many ways in which the health of Yukoners is better than the health of other Canadians. But there are also good reasons to be concerned about our health, and the health of our children.