POLITICS

Statistics Canada report says Quebec city of Saguenay has most 'satisfied' citizens

04/20/2015 05:38 EDT | Updated 07/11/2015 07:59 EDT
MONTREAL - The mayor of Saguenay, Que., says it's his city's affordability, fresh air and low crime rate that make his citizens the most satisfied in the country.

The town of 150,000 located about 200 kilometres north of Quebec City topped Statistics Canada's life-satisfaction survey, the results of which were released Monday.

And it's not just Sagueneens who seem to love their lives. Five Quebec cities made the top 10, with Trois-Rivieres in second place and Quebec City fifth. St. John's, N.L., was third and the greater Sudbury area came in fourth.

Vancouver was the city with the lowest life-satisfaction score in Canada.

"It's cheaper here," Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay said in an interview. "You can park anywhere and it's free, you can bike anywhere. We just feel more free here than in a big city."

He said a household in Saguenay pays, on average, about $600 a year less in annual taxes than other comparatively sized cities in Quebec.

Statistics Canada says its researchers collected data from nine surveys conducted between 2009 and 2013 that included the same question: "Using a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means 'very dissatisfied' and 10 means 'very satisfied', how do you feel about your life as a whole right now?"

Aneta Bonikowska, an analyst with the federal agency, says the nine surveys contain data from a total of almost 340,000 respondents, which is a "fairly robust sample."

Statistics Canada collected data from as many as 1,000 respondents in even the smallest Canadian towns and cities, which she said makes the survey reasonable and reliable.

The study has limits, however.

While the survey accounted for differences in the age of respondents as well as other socio-economic factors that could influence life satisfaction, Bonikowska said the survey doesn't explain "the extent to which economic and social factors explain variations across communities."

That means Stats Can can let Canadians know who is most satisfied but can't quite explain why certain Canadians are more satisfied than others.

Tremblay maintains his city tops the list because of its relatively low cost of living.

"There is certainly more to do in Montreal than here," he said. "But you always have to have your pocketbook out."

He is also happy Saguenay is making news for more than the recent Supreme Court decision which prohibited his city council from reciting a prayer before meetings.

"Yeah, it feels pretty good," he said.