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Our Health Our Future – A National Dialogue on Healthy Weights Dialogue Report

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3. Participation Profile

As a national engagement initiative, Our Health Our Future heard from participants across Canada on their ideas for reducing childhood obesity.

Hundreds of individual Canadians and stakeholder organizations participated in one of the 20 in-person engagement events that took place from Aklavik, Northwest Territories and Iqaluit, Nunavut in Canada’s North, and Port Coquitlam, British Columbia in the West to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in the East.

In addition, more than a 1,000 Canadians joined the discussion online and through social media, with 648 online registered participants on the Our Health Our Future website, more than 500 Facebook fans and 268 Twitter followers.

Taken overall, the Our Health Our Future engagement attracted the attention of Canadians, with a prime-time slot on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s The National broadcast upon launch.

The following table provides a snapshot of the participation levels by engagement channel.

Engagement Channel / Contribution #
In-Person Engagement
Number of Events 20
Number of In-Person Participants 647
Online Engagement
Idea posts 93
Comments on Ideas 144
Votes on Ideas 477
Submissions 65
Registered Participants 648
Unique Website Visits 43,914
Social Media
Facebook
Fans 504
Posts 132
Post likes 93
Post comments 26
Question votes 55
Twitter
Followers 268
Following 256
Tweets 409
@messages 102

This section of the report describes the participation levels in Our Health Our Future and, when available, the demographic characteristics of these participants.

In-Person Events

The Our Health Our Future project team conducted a series of in-person events across Canada with key stakeholder groups – Academics and Researchers, Non-Profit Health Care Organizations, Health Care Practitioners, Provincial and Territorial Stakeholders, Youth, Caregivers, Aboriginal Peoples, Industry and Media.

The following map provides a visual snapshot of the geographic locations of the in-person events, showing that all regions of the country were represented.

This distribution of events ensured Our Health Our Future was a truly national dialogue on childhood obesity. Through this engagement process, PHAC heard about the different challenges, ideas and perspectives from each part of Canada.

Specifically, in-person engagement events were held in the following locations. Some cities were the venues for multiple engagement events.

  • Aklavik, Northwest Territories
  • Iqaluit, Nunavut
  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba

Figure 10. Map of in-person event locations for Our Health Our Future:

Online Engagement

A broad range of Canadians took part through the online engagement website at www.OurHealthOurFuture.gc.caExternal Site. Online participants came from every province and territory, and some were even located outside Canada. Participants actively posted ideas, commented on other people’s ideas and voted on the preferred ideas.

Participation

A large number of ideas were posted in the Idea Forum on the engagement website. In total, there were 93 separate idea posts, with 144 comments on these posts. Many participants voted to rate “up” or “down” the idea in the Forum and, together, there were 477 votes on ideas.

In addition to participation in the Idea Forum, there were 65 online submissions received from stakeholders and individual Canadians.

When added together, idea posts, comments, votes and submissions create a total of 779 “active contributions” online.

Online Engagement
Idea posts 93
Comments on ideas 144
Votes on Ideas 477
Submissions 65
Registered participants 648
Unique Website Visits 43,914

Registration

When visitors to the engagement website wished to post, comment or vote, they were required to register. During the registration process, participants answered a small number of demographic questions including their province or territory and type of participant (individual or stakeholder organization).

Participants came from every province and territory and there was an especially high level of response among participants from Ontario and British Columbia. This is often observed in national online projects due to the population sizes of urban centres in these provinces.

Figure 11.

Participants were also asked to identify their “perspective” or category from three options: Organization/Association, Individual, and Government or its Agency.

Participants came from each category but were mainly organizations or individual Canadians. Fourteen percent of registered users indicated they were participating on behalf of an organization or association and 84% as an individual.

Figure 12.

Site Visits

A final measure of Our Health Our Future’s online engagement reach is site activity. While some site visitors decided to register and take part in the conversation, other visitors used the site primarily for learning and education purposes and may not have participated in the dialogue itself.

In total, 43,914 different users visited the Our Health Our Future site during the open engagement. The following chart describes unique site visits by date and illustrates that the level of site activity varied considerably between the launch date of March 7 and closing date on July 29.

Figure 13. A chart of unique site visits to www.OurHealthOurFuture.gc.caExternal Site March 7 to July 29, 2011:

Early high levels of site activity fell at the end of March 2011. Site activity then remained low until early June when it gradually increased to significant levels. The timing of low site activity corresponds to the period of the federal election, during which limits were placed on all Government of Canada communications and outreach, including Our Health Our Future (as per Government of Canada policy).

Between March 26 and June 1, no updates or moderator posts were made to either the engagement website or social media presences on Facebook and Twitter. Once updates resumed, site activity again increased to levels similar to the weeks immediately after launch.

Social Media

During the few months they were moderated and active, the Our Health Our Future presences on Facebook and Twitter generated significant interaction and idea sharing. The presences built a combined community of 772 followers/fans, each of whom could share updates and information about the Our Health Our Future conversation with their own individual social networks of friends.

The following table describes the community sizes and interaction levels for Facebook and Twitter:

Social Media
Facebook
Fans 504
Posts 132
Post likes 93
Post comments 26
Question votes 55
Twitter
Followers 268
Following 256
Tweets 409
@messages 102

Facebook

When users became a “fan” of the Our Health Our Future presence on Facebook, basic demographic information about participants was collected, including age, gender and geography. This data is stored anonymously without connecting demographics with any username or personally identifiable information. An analysis of fan demographics allows us to understand the makeup of the Our Health Our Future community on Facebook.

One important reason for using Facebook was to reach and engage young Canadians in a dialogue on healthy weights. With this in mind, it is encouraging to see that the largest age group of fans was aged 13-17 years old, both among female and male participants. High levels of fans also came from the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups, which included parents with both young children and older youth.

Figure 14. Graph showing Facebook Fan Demographics:

In terms of activity levels on Facebook, the trend for engagement over time was similar to the overall site activity levels for the main Our Health Our Future website at www.OurHealthOurFuture.gc.caExternal Site.

As shown in the chart below, the number of active users spiked shortly after launch but experienced a significant reduction during the federal election period, before a sustained higher level of active users was experienced again after June 1 until the end of the engagement. “Active users” included fans as well as their own friends who viewed or interacted with the Our Health Our Future Facebook page (in either English or French).

Figure 15. Graph showing Facebook active users over the engagement period:

Twitter

Unlike Facebook, Twitter is a more anonymous social media platform that collects very little required demographic information from participants. The following chart shows the size of the Our Health Our Future community on Twitter and the level of interaction and engagement.

Combined English and French presences consisted of 268 participants, with 256 directly followed back by Our Health Our Future. A total of 409 status updates or “tweets” were posted to this community, and 102 idea messages were received back from followers and broader members of the Twitter network.

Twitter
Followers 268
Following 256
Tweets 409
@messages 102

While a statistical analysis of the Our Health Our Future Twitter community is not possible due to its privacy settings, a review of our followers reveals that the community includes health professionals, industry, health sector non-profit agencies, health sciences students, and individual Canadians with an interest in childhood obesity.

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