2015 Victoria’s Vital Signs Report

For Immediate Release
October 6, 2015

Victoria: The Results of Your Annual Check-up are In!

Victoria, BC – Compared to last year, residents of Greater Victoria are feeling a little more positive about their standard of living and their sense of belonging and engagement. We aren’t quite as upbeat about local transportation, however.

These are just some of the interesting results revealed today at the launch of Victoria’s Vital Signs®, the annual community report card produced by the Victoria Foundation and sponsored by Island Savings, a division of First West Credit Union. Unique to the region, it combines public opinion with statistics and relevant facts to provide a snapshot of the livability and wellbeing of the community. 2015 marks the ten-year anniversary of the popular report, which included a number of added features to mark the achievement.

“We’re very excited to release our tenth anniversary edition of Victoria’s Vital Signs®,” said Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson. “In addition to our usual collection of statistics and public survey results, we’ve included commentary from a number of sector leaders in our community as well as a look back at the milestones and impacts from the last decade. I think it’s our best Vital Signs yet!”

Most of the letter grades given to the 12 issues discussed in the report remained the same as last year, but Standard of Living and Sense of Belonging have gone up slightly. Transportation was the only issue to get a lower grade, with the average coming in at a B-minus versus C-plus in 2014. Respondents to this year’s survey generally consider themselves happy and satisfied with many aspects of their lives, but some are struggling with issues such as the high cost of living, housing, employment, food security and other financial stresses.

In fact, almost a quarter of all workers in the region are involuntary part-time workers, and 23 percent could not pay their bills on time at least once in a given year according to the report. Further statistics indicate that some issues are improving while others are staying the same or falling behind. For example, crime rates have declined, median household incomes have increased, and the rates for completing high school are improving. Meanwhile, youth physical activity levels have dropped, poverty rates for vulnerable populations have remained relatively high, and the rental vacancy rate has decreased sharply, despite a net increase in rental units.

Speaking to the issue of addressing concerns raised in the report, Victoria Foundation Board Chair Rasool Rayani stated that Vital Signs is integral to the work of the Foundation. “As the region’s largest non-government funder, it’s vitally important for us to have our finger on the pulse of the community. Connecting this knowledge with strategic philanthropy is what we do. Vital Signs gives us a unique understanding of the challenges and opportunities in our region, and allows us to share this knowledge with others for the betterment of us all.”

“The strength of Victoria’s Vital Signs® has always been the breadth of issues it explores, together with the grades, opinions and perceptions provided through the citizen survey,” he said.

Selected results from the citizen survey include:

  • 90 percent of respondents feel supported by loving family, companions and/or friends.
  • 26 percent feel high or overwhelming stress associated with personal finance.
  • 63 percent feel they know their neighbours well enough to ask for assistance.
  • 20 percent feel uncomfortable at least sometimes as a result of discrimination.

Of the more than 70 indicators within the report, there were standouts on both the positive and the negative sides. For example, the latest results show that the Greater Victoria Public Library had the highest circulation and second highest visits per capita in Canada. Statistics also show that high school completion rates for Aboriginal students are improving and that fewer students in grades 7-12 on South Vancouver Island reported trying alcohol, marijuana or tobacco for the first time.

There are also worrisome indicators. In 2014, 14 percent of the general population on South Vancouver Island reported a diagnosis of a mental disorder in the previous year, higher than rates for both BC and Canada. And a 2014 study showed that children accounted for approximately 30 percent of food bank usage in the region.

Victoria’s Vital Signs® report is part of a nation-wide initiative, coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada who today also launched a national Vital Signs report on belonging in Canada. A total of 28 community foundations across the country released local Vital Signs report cards today. Victoria’s Vital Signs® report, as well as all source information, is available at victoriafoundation.bc.ca.

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