Many worldwide studies and surveys conducted by different agencies and organizations focus on the quality of life in individual countries and cities. The rankings of the countries and cities differ by study mainly in respect to the particular criteria used.
It could be observed that Canada is usually situated on top of the imaginary scale. One of the surveys was conducted by Mercer, a consulting company which evaluated 420 cities based on 39 factors. According to MERCER, central and western European cities rank the highest in terms of quality of life as can be seen in the figure 1. However, overall Canadian cities dominated in the quality of life on the South and Northern American continent. In this survey, Vancouver occupied the 5thposition with the same ranking as Düsseldorf (Andersen, 2011).
In addition, an article published in the “National Post” announced that according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), Canada obtained the second highest score in overall quality of life right after Australia. Canada scored high in factors such as housing, health, education and life satisfaction. While all of the studies included environmental quality as an evaluating factor, economic and social factors were predominantly used. (Abma, O’Neil, 2011) The OECD primarily used air quality as the sole measurement for environmental quality (OECD, 2011).
Canadian EIA can undoubtedly be seen as a tool which leads to better quality of the life since the goal of EIA, according to International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) is to “anticipate and mitigate the environmental impacts of proposed new projects” (Palframan, n.d.). Moreover, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) even developed an extensive conceptual and methodological framework for the integrated assessment of the impact of linear infrastructure project on the quality of life. The criteria for designing these projects can be seen in figure 2 (CEAA, 2009). The outcomes of research on quality of life in Canadian cities as analyzed by Natural Resources Canada supported all the previous information. The economic, social and physical environments were taken into account to reach these conclusions; in total eleven domains and their indicators related to the quality of life were closely examined. Indicators assessing environmental quality in Canada focused on air pollution and the density of dwellings requiring major repairs (NRCAN, 2009). It could be argued that environmental quality indicators could be examined much more rigorously. Moreover, other indicators such as green area per capita and noise exposure could be included in the study.
In conclusion, the quality and effectiveness of the Canadian EIA process is still highly rated compared to the rest of the world. Since the environmental pollution directly influences human health, the consideration of quality of life should always be an integral part of environmental assessment reports, especially while conducting long-term and spatially-extensive projects (CEAA, 2009).
Abma, D., O’Neil, P. (2011, May 24). Canada gets high score on quality of life index: study. Retrieved February 24, 2012, from National Post: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/05/24/canada-scores-near-the-top-of-quality-of-life-index-study/
Andersen, M. (2011, November 29). 2011 Quality of Living worldwide city rankings – Mercer survey. Retrieved February 24, 2012, from MERCER: http://www.mercer.com/press-releases/quality-of-living-report-2011
CEAA. (2009, April 30). Development of a Conceptual and Methodological Framework for the Integrated Assessment of the Impacts of Linear Infrastructure Projects on Quality of Life. Retrieved February 24, 2012, from Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency: http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=C10DF5DB-1&offset=8&toc=show
NRCAN. (2009, April 30). Overall Quality of Life. Retrieved February 24, 2012, from Natural Resources of Canada: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/auth/english/maps/peopleandsociety/QOL/ove_qol_uc/1
OECD. (2011). Retrieved March 14, 2012, from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/4/59/47918063.pdf
Palframan, L. (n.d.). The integration of environmental impact assessment and environmental management systems: experiences from the UK. Retrieved February 24, 2012, from IAIA: http://www.iaia.org/iaia10/documents/reviewed_posters/The%20Integration%20of%20EIA%20and%20EMS%20-%20Experiences%20from%20the%20UK.pdf