Annual quality of life report card finds Canada's children, immigrants getting left behind



    Canada's Vital Signs 2008 also reports Canadians improving education
    levels, showing more interest in the arts

    OTTAWA, Oct. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Child poverty in Canada is stuck at the
same level as 1989 and immigrant family incomes are falling behind, according
to Canada's Vital Signs 2008, the annual report card on quality of life from
Community Foundations of Canada (CFC).

    
    Highlights of the report were released today and show:

    - More than one in five Canadian children (23 per cent or 1.6 million)
      lived in poverty in 2006. This is virtually the same level as in 1989,
      when Canada pledged to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. At the
      current rate, achieving this goal would take 43 more years or until
      2050.

    - While the median income of non-immigrant Canadian families increased by
      over 5% from 2000 to 2005, immigrant families' incomes fell by one per
      cent and recent immigrants' (those in Canada less than five years)
      incomes fell more than three per cent. The situation is most striking
      in Canada's largest cities, where recent immigrants' incomes were half
      the median income of non-immigrant families: Toronto - 50 per cent,
      Montreal - 51.1 per cent, Vancouver - 51.8 per cent.

    Canada's Vital Signs 2008 also includes some revealing trends about
Canadians' individual challenges and achievements.

    - More Canadians are finishing high school. In 2007, only 22 per cent of
      Canadians hadn't finished high school, down from almost 38 per cent in
      1990, which bodes well for Canadians' economic success and
      competitiveness. However, there are some disturbing gaps in educations
      levels. Among Canadians aged 25-44, the share of men without a high
      school education is more than 30 per cent higher than that of women. In
      2006, 43.7 per cent of aboriginal people did not have a high school
      diploma.

    - The obesity rate in Canada has swollen to 16 per cent in 2007 from
      12 per cent in 1996, increasing the risk of future health problems and
      escalating health care costs.

    - Canadians are showing increasing interest in the arts. About 41 per
      cent of Canadian adults reported attending a live arts performance in
      2005, up from 38 per cent in 1998.
    

    "At a time when Canadians are considering our country's priorities and
determining its future direction, Canada's Vital Signs challenges us all to
think about what actions we can take, as individuals and as a society, to
improve quality of life for ourselves and other Canadians," said Monica Patten
CFC's President and CEO. "Canadian community foundations urge our partners -
business, governments, other organizations and individuals - to use our Vital
Signs reports as a catalyst for action."
    Canada's Vital Signs 2008 is part of a growing nation-wide initiative by
Canadian community foundations to measure quality of life and take action to
improve it. Today, 15 local Vital Signs report cards are being released by
community foundations across Canada. This is an increase from 11 reports
issued last year and six produced in 2006. As a result of the Canadian
initiative, community organizations in Australia and Brazil are also
researching similar reports.

    
    Community foundations participating in Vital Signs 2008 include:
    - Calgary                 - London and Middlesex     - Toronto
    - Fredericton             - Medicine Hat             - Victoria
    - Greater Montreal        - Metro Vancouver          - Waterloo Region
    - Greater Saint John      - Oakville
    - Greater Sudbury         - Ottawa
    - Guelph & Wellington     - Red Deer
    

    The reader-friendly report cards track and grade each community's quality
of life in key areas such as the gap between rich and poor, health, housing,
and the environment - transforming facts and figures into research that is
easily understood. The effort is coordinated by CFC, the membership
organization for the country's 164 community foundations, which produces
Canada's Vital Signs.
    "Vital Signs provides individuals and organizations with a focus for
improving quality of life in their communities," said Vincenza Travale, Chair
of CFC's Board of Directors. "It's clear that the Vital Signs program is
becoming an increasingly important catalyst for change at the both local and
national levels."

    
    For example:

    - When its Vital Signs report indicated a local obesity rate higher than
      the national average, the Greater Saint John Community Foundation
      committed itself to encouraging physical activity. The Foundation is
      helping to build a new running track, scheduled to open this fall, for
      walkers, joggers and active residents of all ages in the Greater River
      Valley area.

    - In Victoria, B.C., students at Oak Bay High School were struck by data
      on homelessness and the shortage of basic hygiene supplies reported in
      Victoria's Vital Signs. Working with local hotels and businesses,
      students collected boxes of soap, shampoo and body wash which they
      assembled into kits for downtown shelters and street outreach programs.
    

    Canada's Vital Signs
    --------------------

    CFC's Canada's Vital Signs looks at the 10 indicators shared by every
community foundation issuing a report this year. It collates data from a
number of recognized sources to provide an overview and make connections
between key quality of life issues in our country. It is designed to share
important research in a reader-friendly way that is accessible to all
Canadians. It is based on Toronto's Vital Signs(R), a successful report
developed by Toronto Community Foundation first published in 2001.
    Canada's Vital Signs 2008 will be distributed across Canada in The Globe
and Mail on October 16, 2008 and will be available as a downloadable file at
www.cfc-fcc.ca.
    CFC recognizes the generous support of Mackenzie Investments as Canada's
Vital Signs 2008 National Sponsor.

    About Canada's community foundations
    ------------------------------------

    Community foundations build and manage permanent endowments, using their
knowledge of their communities' needs to connect donors to the causes and
organizations that can help them make a lasting difference. With more than
$2.9 billion in assets, the community foundation movement is one of Canada's
largest grantmakers, providing more than $176 million in grants last year to
thousands of charities.

    
    Note to editors/producers: A backgrounder with more findings from
    Canada's Vital Signs 2008 and media contacts for all 15 local Vital Signs
    reports are available at www.vitalsignscanada.ca.
    

    Aussi disponsible en français: www.signesvitaux.ca.




For further information:

For further information: CFC Media Contact: Anne-Marie McElrone,
Director of Communications and Marketing, Community Foundations of Canada,
(902) 461-8284, amcelrone@cfc-fcc.ca


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