Fewer Calgarians believe they have a high quality of life

'Calgarians, they told us they're stressed, they're tired, they're concerned about their health'

Dylan Short 3 minute read October 6, 2021

Caitlin Harvey watches the sunset in northwest Calgary on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Fewer Calgarians feel they have a high quality of life in the city as the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its second year.

The Calgary Foundation released the 2021 Calgary Vital Signs report Wednesday showing 64 per cent of residents said they have a good quality of life, down from 75 per cent in 2020. The report surveyed 1,000 Calgarians on a number of topics related to life in Alberta’s largest municipality.

Taylor Barrie, vice-president of communications with the Calgary Foundation, said there is a clear link between the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in optimism. The report found 51 per cent of people rated their mental health as being good or excellent, down from 55 per cent last year.

“I think you can’t look at that number and not correlate it almost entirely with living through a pandemic,” said Barrie. “Calgarians, they told us they’re stressed, they’re tired, they’re concerned about their health, they’re worried about family and their jobs, and I think isolation comes into play.”

The report found 22 per cent of people — 63 per cent of people aged 25 and under — are stressed about their health, 26 per cent are stressed due to isolation and 26 per cent are stressed because of family matters. About 30 per cent of Calgarians see themselves leaving the city in the foreseeable future.

Overall, thirty per cent of respondents said they frequently feel stressed and 30 per cent said they frequently feel exhausted.

Barrie said Calgarians reported a low sense of belonging to their community, with 28 per cent of people saying they felt they had a “strong” sense of belonging.

“That 18- to 24-year-old age bracket, they have quite a weak sense of belonging to the community and to their city, and so I think a lot of that must be connected to overall quality of life,” said Barrie. “If you don’t feel that you belong, you’re a part of a community or a city, how can you possibly feel you have a high quality of life?”

However, a large majority, 88 per cent, still believe Calgary is a good place to raise a family, while 83 per cent of respondents said the city is a good place to live as a young person. Seventy per cent of people aged 65 and older feel Calgary is a good place for seniors.

Eighty-five per cent of people can afford basic needs and 80 per cent of Calgarians believe everyone is entitled to a living wage.

Barrie said those numbers show there is no one universal feeling toward life in the city. She said the report is a snapshot in time to track how various demographics view their lives.

“It’s really just supposed to be a tool or fodder for conversation to try to look at where we might enact some change and how we can improve well-being for everybody,” said Barrie.

The report also measured people’s views on racism and diversity. The number of people who believe Black, Indigenous and people of colour experience racism fell slightly to 77 per cent, down from 82 per cent in 2020. Fewer people, 50 per cent compared to 61 per cent last year, believe Black and Indigenous people experience disproportionate levels of violence from police.

However, more people believe it is important to learn about shared history and the effect of residential schools from an Indigenous perspective, with 78 per cent of respondents saying it is important, up from 73 per cent last year.

Barrie said people should use the report as a tool to see where they can help improve life in Calgary. The Calgary Foundation works with charitable organizations across the city and Barrie urged people to find one they can get involved with and find policy issues they can question their elected politicians on.

“I know that there are many programs and initiatives that support and tackle some of these big issues, and so, you know, our vision would be that a Calgarian would pick up this report and try to look, to learn more about the organizations that are doing the work that they could support,” said Barrie.