Halifax Index 2024

Well-Being

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WELL-BEING DAMPENED BY HOUSING, HEALTH CARE, AND HURRICANES

People. Planet. Prosperity. Halifax’s Inclusive Economic Strategy 2022-27 established a well-being metric based on results from the Partnership’s annual City Matters Survey carried out by MQO Research. Respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10. The strategic goal is to reduce the share of respondents over time who give a low rating (4 or below) to their life satisfaction. Following an improvement from 2022 to 2023, the numbers tipped the other way in 2024 as the share of respondents citing a low life satisfaction jumped to 22.1%.

Elevated inflation over the past two years significantly impacted affordability, especially in housing, and the homelessness crisis garnered headlines throughout 2023.

The health care system also remained under stress with many people struggling to access the system amid growing waitlists. As well, Nova Scotia continued to rank poorly on a range of conditions and activities that influence health outcomes.

Wildfires, flooding, and a hurricane also wreaked havoc between May and September 2023. In addition, the latest crime statistics show an upturn although Halifax still remains well below levels seen a decade ago.

While greenhouse gas emissions again declined from 2021 to 2022, historical emissions estimates were adjusted upward due to modelling revisions. Emissions remained above the target line necessary to reach Halifax Regional Municipality’s 2030 interim goal for greenhouse gas reduction and the ultimate 2050 net-zero goal.

In the face of these many stresses, levels of trust in others and in many institutions declined in 2024.

Again in 2024, however, a majority (58.3%) of survey respondents rated their satisfaction with life in Halifax as being “high” or “very high.” As inflation subsides, housing starts increase, and new health care resources become available, Halifax should be poised to see well-being rebound.

Halifax Index 2024
Quality of Life

The Partnership’s annual City Matters Survey, carried out by MQO Research, generates a number of metrics that speak to the quality of life in Halifax.

In 2024, a majority (58.3%) of survey respondents again rated their satisfaction with life as “high” or “very high.”

However, the mean score for life satisfaction declined in 2024. Furthermore, the share who rated satisfaction with life as “low,” a top-level goal in Halifax’s Economic Strategy, rose substantially from 12.8% to 22.1%. These declines are not surprising given heightened anxieties over the rising cost of living, concerns over housing and homelessness, war in Ukraine and the Middle East, and three natural disasters within four months – wildfires, flooding, and a hurricane.

A majority of survey respondents reported being satisfied with various aspects of life in Halifax. Approximately two-thirds of respondents reported satisfaction with Halifax as a place for young people and as a place for people to retire. Satisfaction levels rose into the 70% to 80% range for Halifax as a place to live, a place to work, a place for recreation and play, and a place to raise a family.

However, levels of reported trust in both “most people” and in a variety of institutions fell in 2024. Academics, the police, and the school system all garnered trust from more than half of survey respondents, while values below half were given to businesses, Canadian media, elected officials, governments, and the judicial system.

Reported satisfaction levels and trust tended to be higher among respondents who were male, older, higher income, and/or rural, while female, younger, urban, and/or lower-income respondents had lower levels of satisfaction and trust.

Question: “Using a scale of zero to ten, with zero (0) meaning ‘Not at all’ and ten (10) meaning ‘Completely,’ how satisfied are you with life nowadays?
Source: MQO Research, City Matters Survey (Various)

Perceptions of Well-Being

  • Well-being, as measured by the Partnership’s annual City Matters Survey carried out by MQO Research, is one of the top-level goals in Halifax’s Economic Strategy.
  • More specifically, the well-being goal is to reduce over time the share of respondents who report a low level (score of 4 or lower) of life satisfaction.
  • Following an improvement from 2022 to 2023, in 2024, this metric worsened substantially as the share of survey respondents reporting a low level of life satisfaction jumped to 22.1% from 12.8%.
  • The mean score in 2024 was 6.5, down from 7.6 in 2023 and 6.7 in 2022, the year the baseline score was established.

Question: “Using a scale of zero to ten, with zero (0) meaning ‘Not at all’ and ten (10) meaning ‘Completely,’ how satisfied are you with life nowadays?
Source: MQO Research, City Matters Survey (2024)

Mean Well-Being by Selected Characteristics

  • Decreases in mean scores for well-being occurred for all groups from 2023 to 2024 in contrast to the across-the-board increases from 2022 to 2023.
  • Older (55+) respondents reported the highest mean score at 7.3. Youth (18 - 34) had the lowest mean score at 5.8; they also had the largest decrease from 2023.
  • As expected, life satisfaction scores were higher for those with higher levels of income and education.
  • Rural respondents had a slightly higher average score than urban respondents, and the average score for male respondents was slightly higher than for female respondents.

Question: “Please tell us how satisfied you are with the following quality of life aspects of the municipality.”
Source: MQO Research, City Matters Survey (Various)

Aspects of Quality of Life in Halifax

  • Large majorities of respondents continued to be either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with Halifax “as a place to live” and with various aspects of life in Halifax.
  • 77% of respondents were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with Halifax “as a place to live” in 2024, down from 83% in 2023 but above the 75% figure recorded in 2022.
  • Ratings of Halifax “as a place to work” and “as a place to raise a family” have risen over time, while ratings for Halifax “as a place for young people” and “as a place to retire” were at their lowest levels in 2024.

Question: “Do you believe the following institutions can be trusted?”
Source: MQO Research, City Matters Survey (Various)

Residents' Trust in Institutions

  • Trust in 5 institutions declined from 2023 to 2024. For 5 out of 8 institutions, fewer than half of respondents answered “yes” when asked if they trusted those institutions.
  • From 2023 to 2024, double-digit declines were recorded for the share of respondents with trust in three institutions: in elected officials, governments, and the judicial system.
  • Academics had the highest trust level at 62.5% and was the only institution to record an increase over 2023. Elected officials had the lowest value at 19.6%.
  • Canadian media and the school system were new additions to the survey in 2024. Only 38.4% of respondents reported trust in the media, while 57.1% reported trust in the school system.

RESIDENTS' FEELING OF TRUST BY GROUP
Share of Respondents, Halifax, 2024

Response

Overall

Gender

Age

Area

Male

Female

18 - 34

35 - 54

55+

Urban

Rural

Yes

55.4%

59.1%

52.6%

44.4%

52.9%

66.2%

54.1%

60.0%

No

35.2%

33.0%

37.6%

46.6%

36.8%

24.8%

36.2%

31.8%

Don’t know

9.4%

7.9%

9.9%

9.0%

10.2%

9.0%

9.7%

8.2%

Question: “Do you believe that most people can be trusted?”
Source: MQO Research, City Matters Survey (2024)

Trust

  • A majority (55.4%) of respondents said most people can be trusted.
  • Among the demographic groups portrayed in the table, older respondents (55+) reported the highest level of trust at 66.2%, while youth (18-34) had the lowest value (44.4%) and were also the only group for which there were more “no” responses than “yes” responses.
  • A higher share of males reported trust in most people than females, and trust among rural respondents was higher than among urban respondents.

Question: “Do believe that most people can be trusted?”
Results may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Source: Source: MQO Research, City Matters Survey (Various)

Feelings of Trust Over Time

  • In response to the question, “Do you believe that most people can be trusted?”, the share answering “yes” dropped from 64% in 2023 to 55% in 2024.
  • The 2024 results set a record low for those answering “yes” and a record high for those answering “no” since these questions were first asked in 2018.
  • Across all demographic groups, trust levels were lower in 2024 than in 2023.

Halifax Index 2024
Transportation

Transit ridership in Halifax experienced another year of double-digit growth in 2023-24, but the total for the year was still slightly below the pre-pandemic peak set in 2019-20. Total hours of service have been essentially constant for the past 3 years.

Halifax continued to rank well against benchmark cities in terms of transit fares. At $2.75 for a single fare, Halifax comes in at second lowest behind St. John’s at $2.50. Similarly, $82.50 for a monthly transit pass in Halifax is surpassed only by the $78.00 cost for a pass in St. John’s.

The 2024 City Matters Survey asked several questions regarding satisfaction with transit in Halifax. When asked to rate on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent) whether transit stops were close to where respondents lived and worked; the convenience of transit schedules; transit frequency and wait times; and transit affordability, mean scores ranged from 5.6 to 7.0. Urban respondents gave significantly higher ratings than rural respondents with the latter giving a mean score below 5 on 3 of the 4 aspects of transit.

Source: Halifax Regional Municipality, Halifax Transit

Transit Passenger Volume and Hours of Service

  • Halifax Transit ridership experienced strong ridership again in 2023-24, rising by over 2.7 million person-rides (+16.2%) over 2022-23. This is still below the pre-pandemic high of 20.6 million person-rides in 2019-20, however.
  • Total service hours were essentially unchanged in 2023-24, down 0.2% from 2022-23 levels. This marked 2 consecutive years of small decreases in Halifax Transit’s total service hours.

TRANSIT FARES BY TYPE OF FARE
Current Dollars, Benchmark Cities, 2024

Type of Fare

Single Fare

Monthly Pass

Senior Fare

Youth Fare

Halifax

$2.75

$82.50

$2.00

$2.00

St. John's

$2.50

$78.00

$2.50

$2.00

Quebec City

$3.75

$94.50

$2.75

$2.75

Montreal

$3.75

$97.00

$2.75

$2.75

Ottawa

$3.85

$128.75

$2.95

$3.85

Toronto

$3.35

$156.00

$2.30

$2.40

KCW*

$3.75

$92.00

...

...

Winnipeg

$3.25

$111.65

$2.75

$2.75

Calgary**

$3.70

$115.00

$2.50

Vancouver

$3.15

$104.90

$2.10

$2.10

Fares in the table are cash fares. In some cases, lower fares are available when tickets or electronic fare cards are used. In cities with multiple fare zones, the fare for a single zone ticket is used.
*KCW does not provide age-based fare reductions. Reductions are available based on income.
**Senior fare reductions are available only for annual passes in Calgary.
Source: Various Municipal Sources

Fare Costs

  • Transit fares in Halifax for 2024 are unchanged from 2023 levels.
  • At $2.75 for a single fare and $82.50 for a monthly pass, Halifax was the second-lowest costs after St. John’s at $2.50 for a single fare and $78.00 for a monthly pass. Halifax had the lowest fare for seniors and was tied with St. John’s for the lowest youth fare, both at $2.00.
  • Most cities had increases between $0.05 and $0.25 for their regular, youth, and senior fares over 2023 levels and between $2.00 and $3.00 for monthly passes.
  • In November, HRM released its HFXGO app, allowing mobile users to purchase tickets and pay for rides quickly and easily with their phone.

Question: “Please rate your satisfaction with the following municipal services using a scale of one to ten, with one (1) meaning ‘Very Poor’ and ten (10) meaning ‘Excellent’.
Source: MQO Research, City Matters Survey (2024)

Residents' Ratings of Transit in Halifax

  • The 2024 City Matters Survey asked respondents to rate various aspects of Halifax’s transit system on a scale from 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent).
  • The mean scores on the 4 rated aspects ranged from a low of 5.6 for wait times and frequency to a high of 7.0 for having stops close to where people live and work.
  • There were large discrepancies in the mean scores between urban and rural respondents, especially for having stops close to where people live and work and convenient scheduling.
  • Breaking out respondents by age groups, for each transit aspect, the highest mean score came from the 18 - 34 age group and the lowest score came from the 55+ age group. On the question of transit affordability, all three age groups had very similar mean scores.

Halifax Index 2024
Health

This year’s health results are not encouraging.

The latest figures for access to a regular health care provider reached a new low for Nova Scotia, and waitlists for the family practice registry hit a new high in Halifax – just short of a new high for the entire province. Growth in the family practice registry waitlist in Halifax accounted for approximately 90% of the growth in the provincial waitlist.

Nova Scotia ranked poorly among provinces across a range of factors impacting health with an obesity rate of 35.9% and more than 20% reporting arthritis, high blood pressure, and heavy drinking.

Nova Scotia also ranked poorly in terms of self-reported health status. Fewer than half of Nova Scotia respondents rated their own mental health as very good or excellent.

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, Table 13-10-0096-01

Access to a Regular Health Care Provider

  • The share of Nova Scotians reporting regular access to a health care provider fell to 85.2% in 2022, the lowest figure on record going back to 2015.
  • Nova Scotia ranked fifth out of 10 provinces on this metric in 2022. Ontario led at 90.2%, while Prince Edward Island landed in last place at 75.9%.
  • All four Atlantic provinces experienced a decrease from 2021 to 2022, while the remaining provinces all saw improvements.

*Calculated as Central Region less West Hants.
**In July 2023, there was a reporting hiatus as validation work (e.g., removal of duplicate entries) was completed; hence, there are no data for that month. Figures for August 2023 onward reflect the impact of the data validation work carried out in July.
Source: http://www.nshealth.ca/reports-statistics-and-accountability#finding-a-primary-care-provider-reporting

Family Practice Registry Waitlist Length

  • Although data-validation work in July 2023 resulted in reduced family practice registry waitlists, the upward trend resumed in August. By the end of the year, Halifax had reached a new high at 73,022, and the province was just shy of one at 150,047.
  • The increase in the size of the Halifax waitlist over the course of 2023 accounted for 90% of the increase in the size of the waitlist for the province as a whole. Looking only at the post-validation increases from August through December, Halifax still accounted for 89% of the provincial increase.
  • Halifax has not seen a month-to-month decrease in its waitlist since July 2020.
  • However, many thousands of Nova Scotians are now accessing primary care through other means such as Mobile Primary Care Clinics, Virtual Care NS, and Community Pharmacy Primary Care Clinics.

ACTIVITIES AND CONDITIONS IMPACTING HEALTH
Share of Population (Ages 12+), Provinces, 2022
Indicators
NL
PE
NS
NB
QC
ON
MB
SK
AB
BC
Obese*
41.9%
36.4%
35.9%
43.2%
28.6%
29.7%
33.7%
38.4%
31.1%
25.5%
Arthritis**
27.3%
18.6%
27.3%
24.9%
17.0%
20.3%
19.6%
20.4%
19.7%
19.8%
Diabetes
12.4%
8.9%
9.8%
9.6%
8.0%
7.9%
7.5%
7.4%
7.3%

6.9%

High blood pressure
26.6%
21.4%
21.9%
23.0%
18.0%
18.9%
19.1%
21.0%
17.0%
18.2%
Mood disorder
13.5%
9.9%
14.4%
12.9%
8.2%
11.8%
11.1%
13.2%
12.2%
13.6%
Current smoker, daily or occasional
16.3%
15.5%
15.1%
13.2%
13.2%
10.8%
11.7%
14.9%
11.4%
8.9%
Cannabis use, daily or almost daily
7.9%
7.9%
9.1%
8.5%
3.7%
6.8%
5.7%
5.2%
6.7%
6.5%
Heavy drinking
25.0%
23.6%
21.5%
21.3%
21.4%
18.1%
21.4%
19.9%
20.7%
18.9%

*Based on self-reported body mass index (BMI). Only includes respondents 18 and older.
**Only includes respondents 15 and older.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, Table 13-10-0096-01

Health Conditions

  • Across eight factors impacting health, Nova Scotia consistently ranked in the worst half of provinces in 2022 with higher proportions of chronic conditions.
  • Nova Scotia had the highest population share of regular cannabis users and of those with mood disorders. It was tied with Newfoundland and Labrador for the highest share with arthritis.
  • Only Newfoundland and Labrador had a higher share with diabetes, while Nova Scotia trailed only Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick for the highest percentage with high blood pressure. Nova Scotia trailed only Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island for the highest share who were regular smokers.
  • Nova Scotia was ahead of four provinces for the percentage of the population who were obese, with a smaller share than the other three Atlantic provinces.

SELF-REPORTED PERCEPTIONS OF HEALTH STATUS
Share of Population (Ages 12+), Provinces, 2022
Indicators
NL
PE
NS
NB
QC
ON
MB
SK
AB
BC
Perceived health, very good or excellent
52.2%
53.4%
52.8%
51.1%
60.5%
54.1%
53.4%
52.9%
57.3%
51.3%
Perceived mental health, very good or excellent
55.3%
54.5%
49.4%
52.1%
64.7%
52.4%
52.7%
49.8%
54.0%
50.5%
Life satisfaction, satisfied or very satisfied
86.9%
84.1%
85.3%
85.6%
90.5%
86.1%
86.2%
87.3%
87.6%
85.3%
Sense of belonging to local community, somewhat strong or very strong
74.5%
68.4%
69.0%
69.9%
59.6%
65.4%
67.9%
70.2%
64.7%
65.3%
Perceived life stress, most days quite a bit or extremely stressful
18.1%
24.1%
21.5%
20.9%
20.5%
22.6%
20.9%
20.3%
21.8%
22.7%

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, Table 13-10-0096-01

Health Perceptions

  • Since 2015 Statistics Canada has reported data at a provincial level on self-reported health status. The most recent data were for 2022.
  • All five questions reported on here hit their worst-ever level for Nova Scotia in 2022.
  • Across the 10 provinces in 2022, Nova Scotia ranked in the middle for sense of belonging to local community (4th best) and perceived life stress (6th), but it was near the bottom for perceived health (7th), life satisfaction (8th), and perceived mental health (10th). On this last metric, fewer than half of Nova Scotia respondents rated their mental health as very good or excellent.

Halifax Index 2024
Crime

The Crime Severity Index (CSI)1and Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI)2are published annually by Statistics Canada and measure the incidence and severity of crimes across Canada. There is a two-year lag in the data, which means that in 2024 statistics are available only up to 2022.

All benchmark cities had a higher (worse) CSI in 2022 than they did in 2021, and every city but Calgary had a deterioration in their VCSI from 2021 to 2022.

Halifax’s 2022 CSI was at its highest since 2012, while the VCSI was the highest it has been since 2011. Both indices have risen for three consecutive years.

Source: Statistics Canada, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Table 35-10-0026-01

Crime Severity Index and Annual Change

  • Halifax’s CSI rose from 66.6 in 2021 to 72.2 in 2022. Halifax was in the middle of the pack among benchmark cities in terms of both its 2022 CSI value and its increase from 2021.
  • Winnipeg had the worst CSI value for 2022 and the largest increase over 2021.
  • Quebec City had the lowest CSI value among benchmark cities in 2022, while Montreal had the smallest increase over 2021.

Source: Statistics Canada, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Table 35-10-0026-01

Violent Crime Severity Index and Annual Change

  • Halifax had the third-highest VCSI value in 2022 behind only Winnipeg and St. John’s. However, Halifax also had the third-lowest increase over 2021, trailing Calgary – the only city to record a decline – and Ottawa.
  • Paralleling the CSI, Winnipeg had both the highest VCSI in 2022 and the largest increase over 2021.
  • Quebec City had the lowest VCSI value among benchmark cities in 2022.

Source: Statistics Canada, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Table 35-10-0026-01

Crime and Violent Crime Severity

  • Halifax’s CSI and VCSI both rose for the third consecutive year in 2022.
  • Both measures are now at the highest levels recorded over the past decade.
  • Halifax’s CSI and VCSI still remain well below levels in the first decade of the new millennium, however.

Halifax Index 2024
Environment

The quality of the environment is important to Halifax residents and is a key selling point for any city.

Halifax’s residential waste diversion rate was unchanged in 2022-23 from the prior year but remained below levels achieved from 2014-15 through 2020-21.

The province’s share of energy from renewable sources showed a strong increase, however, from 2022 to 2023.

Compared to benchmark cities, Halifax households are leaders in composting kitchen waste but lag in their usage of programmable thermostats.

Halifax also came in a close second among benchmark cities for its urban greenness.

RESIDENTIAL WASTE DIVERSION RATE
Share of Solid Waste, Halifax, 2014 to 2023

Year

Diversion Rate

2014-15

61%

2015-16

59%

2016-17

60%

2017-18

60%

2018-19

59%

2019-20

60%

2020-21

58%

2021-2257%

2022-23

57%

Source: Halifax Regional Municipality, Transportation and Public Works, Custom Request

Waste

  • The residential waste diversion rate in Halifax for 2022-23 remained consistent with the previous year at 57%.
  • HRM is updating its Solid Waste Strategy to align with the HalifACT climate action plan including increased waste diversion and contributions to emissions reductions from operations.
  • The Solid Waste Strategy is also aligning to contribute to Nova Scotia’s goal to reduce its disposal rate from 417 kg per capita to 300 kg per capita by 2030. Halifax’s disposal rate was 395 and 383 kg per capita in 2021-22 and 2022-23, respectively. These figures increased from 2020-21 (361 kg) and reflect the impact of an unexpected influx of disposed industrial waste not previously attributed to Halifax.

Source: Nova Scotia Power, Renewable Energy Regulations

Renewable Energy Supply and Requirements

  • The share of Nova Scotia’s energy coming from renewable sources rose substantially, climbing from 33% in 2022 to 43% in 2023.
  • This figure now exceeds the mandated requirement of 40%.
  • Through the increased use of solar and wind energy, the expansion of transmission ties with New Brunswick, the adoption of new technologies and fuels, and the phasing out of coal, Nova Scotia Power is progressing toward the 2030 requirement that 80% of energy comes from renewable sources.

Source: Halifax Regional Municipality, Environment and Climate Change

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Targets

  • Revisions to emissions models have resulted in upward revisions to Halifax’s historical total greenhouse gas output. Compared to values reported in last year’s Halifax Index, upward annual revisions range from a low of 7% to a high of 15%.
  • Halifax’s total emissions fell again from 2021 to 2022, but they still remain above the line needed to reach the interim 2030 goal and the 2050 net-zero goal.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, the Halifax Regional Municipality reduced its own corporate emissions. The 2022 value is now down by almost 25% compared to 2016. This compares to an 11% reduction for the community as a whole over the same timeframe.

Source: Statistics Canada, Households and the Environment Survey, Table 38-10-0128-01

Composting of Kitchen Waste

  • Composting is a key component to waste reduction. Halifax consistently has been a leader among benchmark cities in the share of households who compost their kitchen waste.
  • In bi-annual records going back to 2009, Halifax ranked first through 2017 and then barely slipped into second place in 2019 behind Calgary and in 2021 behind Vancouver.
  • From a peak of 96% in 2013, Halifax’s share of composting households dropped to a low of 87% in 2019, but in 2021, the downward trend ceased and the percentage rose to 89%.

Source: Statistics Canada, Households and the Environment Survey, Table 38-10-0049-01

Presence and Usage of Programmed Thermostats

  • Programmable thermostats can be used to reduce energy consumption by, for example, adjusting heating and cooling activity when occupants are absent during the workday.
  • In 2021, 30% of Halifax households used a programmable thermostat to reduce energy consumption, 61% of households did not have a programmable thermostat, and 9% had a programmable thermostat but did not actually use the programming features.
  • Across benchmark cities, Halifax had the lowest usage rate for programmable thermostats. Halifax’s 2021 rate of 30% is also down from a 2013-2021 peak of 36% in 2017.

*Average greenness is the percentage of land area classed as green (normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) pixel >= 0.5) within the geography. Water areas were excluded from this analysis.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian System of Environmental Accounting, Table 38-10-0158-01

Average Greenness* by City

  • Halifax retained its second-highest ranking among benchmark cities for urban greenness in 2023, just behind St. John’s.
  • Halifax’s 2023 average-greenness score of 89.9% was a slight improvement on its 2022 mark of 89.5%.
  • Note that these calculations are based on the urbanized population centres of each municipality. Halifax’s high score is not biased upwards because the municipality contains very large rural areas like the Eastern Shore.

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