Hopefulness is declining across Canada: having children or strong ties to a local community associated with a more hopeful outlook

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May 2022

According to Statistics Canada, the proportion of Canadians reporting a hopeful outlook on the future is substantially lower compared with 5 to 6 years ago. In 2016, 75% of people in Canada reported feeling hopeful about the future, compared with 64% of the population in 2021/2022. Some population groups have below-average levels of hopefulness, including persons with a disability and the LGBTQ2+ population. However, those who live in a larger household with children, or persons who have a strong sense of belonging to their local community have above-average levels of hopefulness.

In 2016, young Canadians were more hopeful than the older population. Nearly 8 in 10 Canadians aged 15 to 34 were always or often hopeful about the future in 2016, compared with 7 in 10 persons aged 65 and older. However, in 2021/2022, the younger group was as hopeful about the future as older Canadians—about 63% of 15 to 34 year-olds had a positive view of the future, down significantly from 2016 (-15%). This finding coincides with a steady decline in mental health among youth. A decade ago, young Canadians reported better mental health than their older counterparts. However, the situation has since been reversed. Recently, a lower proportion of young Canadians reported having excellent or very good mental health compared with older Canadians. Nearly one-half of LGBTQ2+ individuals—that is, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two-Spirit, or who use other terms related to gender or sexual diversity—had a positive outlook on the future (49%). In comparison, nearly two-thirds of non-LGBTQ2+ individuals were hopeful about the future (65%).

As the Canadian economy continues to rebound and social life adjusts to a new normal, Canada will track the quality of life for all Canadians using the Quality of Life Framework. The hopeful outlook indicator can be understood as a measure of wellbeing that is interconnected with other indicators, such as mental health, loneliness and sense of belonging to local communities. Future research could be done to better understand these interconnections as well as the potential implications for policymakers. To learn more about this study, click here.

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