Community Foundations of Canada releases Vital Signs, a new annual report on our country's quality of life

    OTTAWA, Oct. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - The first annual Vital Signs national
report, issued today by Community Foundations of Canada, tells the story of
two disparate realities in our country and the people who call it home.
    On one hand, Canada's Vital Signs tell an encouraging story about our
progress as a nation: post- secondary education and family income are up;
unemployment rates and property crime are down.
    But another story lies just below the surface. It isn't a story of
dramatic highs or lows. It's a story about no change at all: Canada has barely
moved the needle on poverty over the past 20 years. More than 20% of Canadians
live in poverty including children, aboriginal people and recent immigrants,
who are essential to the growth of Canada's economy as our population gets
    "We hope Vital Signs will become a tool for change at the local and
national level," said Monica Patten, President and CEO of Community
Foundations of Canada (CFC), the membership organization for the country's
159 community foundations. "That it will help our voluntary sector, business,
governments and other organizations and individuals say: 'Yes, we have
accomplished a great deal together, but not everyone is sharing in our
    CFC's Vital Signs report is part of a nation-wide community foundation
initiative, coordinated by CFC and based on Toronto's Vital Signs(R), an
extremely successful indicator report developed by Toronto Community
Foundation and first published in 2001. Today, 11 community foundations are
releasing local Vital Signs report cards.
    "Vital Signs gives community foundations, donors, and the
community-at-large valuable insight into the community's strengths, challenges
and opportunities," said Vincenza Travale, Chair of CFC's Board of Directors.
"Our reports are meant to be catalysts for action - guiding our foundations
and galvanizing our communities."

    Canada's Vital Signs

    CFC's Vital Signs looks at the 10 Vital Signs indicators shared by every
community foundation issuing a report this year. It collates data from various
sources including Statistics Canada, Environment Canada, Canadian Mortgage and
Housing Corporation, and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, to
provide an overview, and make connections between, key quality of life issues
in our country. It is designed to share important existing research in a
reader-friendly way that is accessible to all Canadians.

    Vital Signs also includes commentary from national thinkers and leaders
such as:

      - Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
      - John Ralston Saul, Writer and Co-Chair of the Institute for Canadian
      - Richard Lessard, M.D., Director of Public Health, Montréal Regional
        Health and Social Services Board
      - Zabeen Hirji, Chief Human Resources Officer, RBC
      - Michael Clague, President of the Carold Institute for the Advancement
        of Citizenship in Social Change (Vancouver, BC)
      - Dr. Erminie J. Cohen, retired Canadian senator, (Saint John, NB)
      - Simon Jackson, Founder and Chairman of the Spirit Bear Youth
        Coalition, Executive Producer of The Spirit Bear, the forthcoming
        Hollywood CGI animated movie
      - Quinn Runkle, grade eleven student, organizer and speaker for Youth
        in Philanthropy: Going Green conference, Youth Liaison for Sunshine
        Coast Botanical Garden Society and Save Our Sunshine Coast.

    Finally, it shares stories of the progress being made on many fronts by a
variety of organizations, including community foundations.

    The report highlights prosperity and opportunity for Canadians on several

      - Median family income has increased 6.4% since 2000, when adjusted for
      - The proportion of Canadians who completed post-secondary education is
        up nearly 50% since 1990.
      - Canada's unemployment rate in 2006 (6.3%) was the lowest in a
        generation, and the first half of 2007 was even lower, at 6.1%.
      - Property crime is down 41.8% since 1991. Although the rate varies
        significantly across Canada, it has come down in every Vital Signs
        community. Violent crime is also down, by just over 10% since 1991.
      - More than half (55%) of Canadians age 15-24 volunteer

    But it also tells a disturbing tale about poverty, our environmental
health, the economic struggle of newcomers, and the rising cost of home

      - Canada's poverty rate over the 25 years from 1980 to 2005 dipped
        below 20% only once - in 1989.
      - Newcomers are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as other
      - Unattached individuals, Aboriginal people, recent immigrants, youth,
        people with disabilities, and other groups continue to experience
        higher than average unemployment. Aboriginal Canadians are more than
        twice as likely to be unemployed (16.5% vs. 5.9% in 2001).
      - Immigrants are arriving with more qualifications than ever, but are
        almost twice as likely to be unemployed. In cities with high numbers
        of recent immigrants, the difference is even more dramatic.
      - Canada is one of the biggest per capita producers of carbon dioxide
        in the world and our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, while
        other countries' decrease
      - In 2005, the average Canadian home cost more than four times the
        average family income.

    Copies of the national Vital Signs report can be downloaded at

    Eleven local reports also released today

    Community foundations in the following cities and regions are
participating in Vital Signs in 2007:

      - Victoria            - Toronto                 ((*)denotes a community
      - Vancouver           - Sudbury(*)              releasing its first
      - Calgary(*)          - Waterloo                Vital Signs report)
      - Medicine Hat(*)       Region(*) (Ontario)
      - Red Deer(*)         - Montreal
      - Ottawa              - Saint John(*)

    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 local facts and figures into 'research you
can read on the bus.'
    "The release of the Vital Signs reports marks the beginning of a process,
not the end," says CFC President and CEO Monica Patten. "The local reports are
designed to get people and organizations discussing the next steps to build a
better community."

    About community foundations

    Community foundations build and manage permanent endowments to support
local priorities. They use their deep knowledge of their communities' needs to
connect donors to the causes and organizations that matter most to them,
helping them make a lasting difference.
    With more than $2.7-billion in assets, the community foundation movement
is one of Canada's largest grantmakers, providing more than $137-million in
grants last year to thousands of charities.

    Note to editors/producers: All 11 Vital Signs reports, and media contacts
for participating community foundations, can be found at

For further information:

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

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