Vital Signs 2017 report has limited validity – more rigorous methodology urged
The glossy Vital Signs 2017 is worth a read and is an useful tool to help improve our community, but it could be so much more.
The report is an annual checkup published by the Victoria Foundation established in 1936 which to date has invested more than $188 million in people, projects and organizations that strengthen our community.
The report concludes that life in Greater Victoria is somehow rated a B+, even though only two issues areas: Arts and Culture, and Sport and Recreation obtained that rating. All other 10 areas fell below that grade.
The report is based on an online citizen’s opinion survey of about 1.500 residents and on secondary data from Stats Canada and other institutional sources.
“The rationale is really weak on assigning grades based on subjective opinions by a select group of people. Based on this report, millions of dollars are donated to community causes,” says Denny Gelinas, a board member with Grumpy Taxpayer$.
“In order to strengthen these reports, we urge the authors to look at best practices of other reports across Canada and in other countries,” says Gelinas.
The authors acknowledge that the methodology for the online survey is weak, saying “… the results should be considered representative of ‘interested Victorians’ and may not be representative of the Greater Victoria population overall.”
For example, the graders were almost three-quarters female, 40 percent lived in Victoria, 22 percent were retired and of note, 25 percent worked for non-profit and charity organizations. This leads to wonder how the conclusions of the report might have changed if the methodology better reflected the population mix in the Greater Victoria region. For example, given the number of people experiencing transportation gridlock in the Westshore or on the Saanich Peninsula, it is unlikely they would have assigned a C+ grade to transportation.
The report’s economic section could also benefit with a more detailed review of the state of the regional economy. We understand that the Foundation is now working with the South Island Prosperity Partnership to strengthen this analysis. A strong economy is key to the overall well being of the community, as well as an engine of prosperity and a source of funding.
As for the secondary data, some information referenced in the report is out of date. It would be helpful if the year of publication appeared beside the source.
Of note, the report does a good job of highlighting the more important issues facing our region – at the top of this list are housing and the cost of living.
RELATED: Vital Signs Report
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