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Vital Signs report highlights employment and education challenges facing First Nation youth

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From Canadian Press

Jobless youth, aboriginal education are focus of community foundations report

October 6, 2009

TORONTO — Concerns about young people, including the unemployed and aboriginal students who are at risk of dropping out of school, are a major focus of a report released Tuesday by Community Foundations of Canada.

The Vital Signs report compiles statistics on subjects that help reflect the health and well-being of people in communities across the country.

Clcik here to visit the Vital Signs report site

This year, the annual report highlights the rise in youth unemployment from 10.7 per cent in January 2008 to more than 16 per cent this past summer in the midst of the economic downturn. It also notes that 19.2 per cent of students looking for summer jobs were out of luck.

"It's really been youth who have become even more vulnerable than they have in the past," said Monica Patten, president and CEO of the organization, which represents 165 community charitable foundations. "The figures for youth trying to find a job tell us that it has been tougher."

She noted that statistics varied across the country, and some communities experienced the downturn more severely than others.

Community charitable foundations are tackling the question about how to respond, Patten said.

She pointed to a Toronto sports leadership development program that provides training and accreditation to young people, allowing those from marginalized communities to develop skills such as lifeguarding that will lead to work.

In this program, Patten noted, about 400 young people from 13 communities have received training, and a very high percentage - three-quarters - have completed programs and found work.

The report also highlights statistics showing that 39.3 per cent of Inuit Canadians 15 and older completed high school, while the rate for aboriginals on reserves was 40.5 per cent. Overall, the high school completion rate for aboriginal Canadians was 56.3 per cent in 2006, compared to 76.9 per cent among non-aboriginals.

"This has huge implications for their future, for their work, for their sense of self-worth, for their productivity. And that has huge implications for the whole country," said Patten.

The 165 foundations provided $169 million to local charities and organizations in 2008. Patten said they received $230 million in new gifts in 2008, whereas in the past, they've received more than $300 million a year.

Investments were way down at one point, but are now reporting a slow but comfortable and steady return, she said. However, it will take several years to get back to where they were a few years ago.

Besides the statistics on young people, the report highlighted several issues dealing with the population at large:

  • Violent crime has fallen 12 per cent since 1991.
  • Low birth weight increased from 5.7 per cent in 2002 to 6.1 per cent in 2008, in part due to more pre-term births linked to fertility treatments, an increase in maternal age and C-sections.
  • Housing has become less affordable. The average home price in Canada was 3.23 times the average pre-tax income in 2000. By 2006, it had risen to 4.35 times the average pre-tax income.
  • Ninety-eight per cent of Canadians with access to recycling programs were taking part in the programs.
  • The median charitable donation rose from $170 in 1997 to $250 in 2007, but the proportion of Canadians declaring charitable donations dropped from 25.7 per cent to 24 per cent.


Press Release form Community Foundations of Canada 

Young Canadians face worst job market in decades, says annual report card

OTTAWA (Oct. 6, 2009) – Canada’s youth jobless rate has soared under the economic pressures of the past year and even the lucrative summer months were a bust, with young people’s hours of work hitting 30-year lows, according to Canada’s Vital Signs 2009, the annual report card on quality of life from

Community Foundations of Canada.

“The report shows us how the impact of the recession has been immediate and severe for vulnerable groups, such as youth,” said Monica Patten, President and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada. “ It also shines a light on inequities that pre-date the recession, such as the disturbing high school completion rates among the aboriginal population.”The snapshot of how Canadian communities are faring in

10 key areas also highlights a continuing paradox. Although violent crime was the top concern among Canadians in a recent poll, statistics show that our safety record continues to improve, with significant declines in the most violent crimes such as homicide, sexual offences and child abduction.

Statistics from Canada’s Vital Signs 2009 show:

Youth unemployment rose from 10.7 per cent in January 2008 to 16.3 per cent by this summer. As of August 2009 employment among youths is falling faster than in any other age group. Among students looking for summer jobs, 19.2 per cent were unemployed this summer and for those who found work, the average number of work hours, (23.4 per week) was the lowest in more than 30 years.

Aboriginal students (15 and over) are attending and completing high school at much lower rates than the non-Aboriginal population. The Aboriginal high school completion rate was 56.3 per cent in 2006, as compared to a rate of 76.9 per cent among the non-Aboriginal population. The numbers were even lower among Aboriginal Canadians on reserves (40.5 per cent) and in Nunavut (39.3 per cent).

Violent crime has fallen 12 per cent since 1991 with the largest declines in the most violent offences, including a 32 per cent drop in homicides, a 36.4 per cent decrease in sexual offences and a 64.5 per cent decline in abductions.

Low birth weight, which is linked to child health concerns such as learning difficulties, vision and respiratory problems, is on the rise in Canada. Between 2002 and 2008, the incidence of low birth weight increased from 5.7 per cent to 6.1 per cent, in large part due to a rising incidence in pre-term births linked to the increase in maternal age, C-sections and fertility treatments.

Sixteen Local Reports Released Today

Vital Signs is part of a growing nation-wide initiative by Canadian community foundations to measure quality of life and take action to improve it. Today, 16 local Vital Signs report cards are being released by community foundations across Canada. A full list of this year’s participants and their local reports can be found at .

Vital Signs collects data from recognized sources to 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. The national Vital Signs project is based on Toronto’s Vital Signs,® an extremely successful indicator report developed by Toronto Community Foundation, which was first published in 2001.

“Vital Signs has become a platform for local action among a wide range of community leaders, including governments, not-for-profits, philanthropists, the private sector, and individual citizens,” said Patten.

Impact stories from across the country can be found at

Polling to be released on Oct. 14

This year, for the first time, Community Foundations of Canada has also conducted national polling about the quality of life in our communities. The polling, conducted by Environics Research Group, will be released on Wednesday, Oct. 14 and featured in an insert in The Globe and Mail.

For ongoing updates, follow Canada’s Vital Signs on Twitter at or visit our blog at