Edmontonians are some of the least happy Canadians — but that's not necessarily bad news, according to one happiness expert.

John Helliwell, a professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, used life satisfaction data compiled between 2009 and 2013 by Statistics Canada to find out which cities are the happiest.

Helliwell and his co-authors looked at data collected from nearly 340,000 Canadians, each of whom ranked their current life satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 10.

The answer: cities like Saguenay and Trois Rivieres, Que., St. John's, N.L., and Sudbury, Ont. proved the happiest, scoring an average 8.2 on the satisfaction scale.

Edmonton, on the other hand, came in 30th place out of the 34 cities examined, beating only Vancouver, Toronto, Windsor and Guelph.

The study also found that 15.5 per cent of Edmontonians ranked their satisfaction at a six or less out of 10 -- a significantly lower portion compared to the national average (and Calgary's score, for what it's worth.)

But speaking to Edmonton AM host Mark Connolly on Wednesday, author Helliwell was quick to point out that Edmontonians should not take the news too hard.

"The important thing to remember is that all Canadian cities are, in general, a little less happy than the more relaxed small towns and country areas," he said.

Even with some of the lowest scores in Canada, Edmontonians' happiness levels still place them high in the global scheme of things, he said.

And at the end of the day, an individual's happiness ultimately comes down to three basic things:

"Across the world in the world happiness report, we find the single most important variable once you got rid of basic income and health is having someone to count on in times of trouble."

The study also found that:

  • Canadian women had slightly higher life satisfaction than men
  • People born in Canada are happier than those who have moved here from elsewhere
  • Canadians in their 40s and early 50s are less happy than both younger and older groups
  • Married Canadians are more satisfied than divorced, separated, widowed or unmarried people
  • Healthy people are happier people
  • People who know their neighbours have higher satisfaction levels

While Canada has been collecting data on citizens' happiness for 30 years, many other countries have only recently began to take stock, Helliwell said. He attributes the growing interest in satisfaction with an evolving understanding that the planet's resources are not infinite.

"[People are realizing] it's better to use resources in ways that makes for happier families and better environments for the next generation's children," he said.

"If you know more about how happy people are and what makes them happy, you can be much shrewder, as individuals, how you use your own time and resources."