Saskatoon tops in health and competitive business environment

Workopolis |

Saskatoon leads the nation in both life satisfaction and a competitive business environment, according to recent reports from two Canadian economic think tanks.

The Conference Board of Canada in December released highlights of its City Health Monitor study showing Saskatoon topped the list of 10 major Canadian cities based on the health performance of the city and its citizens. At the same time, The C.D. Howe Institute released findings showing Saskatoon has the most competitive tax rates for businesses among major Canadian cities.

“The combination of our quality of life and economic competitiveness is what makes us strong as a city,’’ Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said.

Saskatoon City Manager Murray Totland said the city has been striving to achieve such results for years and they should bode well for job creation, among other benefits. “Our attention to city council’s strategic goals such as quality of life and economic diversity and prosperity lead to a community with good jobs, schools, health care and people – it’s what makes Saskatoon a great place to live.”

The Conference Board’s study graded cities on their physical and socio-economic health based on 24 indicators in four categories. Saskatoon, Calgary and Winnipeg each earned an “A’’ grade, but Saskatoon edged out the other two western Canadian cities by earning top marks in the life satisfaction category and relatively high evaluations in the population health and healthy lifestyle groupings.

Greg Sutherland, principal economist with the Conference Board, says the study results come from a survey of its potential customers and they are intended to generate discussion. “We wanted to start a conversation about the health of Canadian cities,’’ Sutherland said in an email. “Cities are where a majority of Canadians live, and with the aging population it is necessary to shine a light on health in these areas.’’ He said the findings of this initial study are expected to serve as baseline data for future studies likely to include a wider range of cities and indicators. “We hope that benchmarking results will allow us to monitor changes in health status and health outcomes to better understand the differences between cities, recognize what is achievable, pinpoint policy priority areas, and track the impact of policies or changes in processes over time.’’

Saskatoon, Calgary and Winnipeg are followed in the rankings by Quebec City, Ottawa-Gatineau, Vancouver, Halifax, Edmonton and Toronto, with each scoring a “B’’ grade. Montréal was the only city to receive a “D.’’ “Montréal’s overall grade results from placing no higher than 8th position in all categories and receiving a “D” grade in three categories: healthy lifestyle, access to health care services, and life satisfaction,’’ the board said in a news release.

Indicators in the life satisfaction category in which Saskatoon excelled include satisfaction with life in general, sense of belonging to the local community, perceived life stress, perceived work stress and perceived health. However, Sutherland notes the study’s results are based on four categories — population health, healthy lifestyle, access to health care, as well as life satisfaction — and no city performs strongly in all four. He also points out that the report doesn’t suggest the first-place city is healthy and, by comparison, the last place city is unhealthy. “All these cities are healthy but some indicators in some categories can impact the rankings.’’

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