Victoria Foundation releases the 2019 Vital Signs report

Victoria Foundation releases the 2019 Vital Signs report
WatchThe Victoria Foundation released its 2019 Vital Signs report on Oct. 1, 2019

The Victoria Foundation’s Vital Signs report was released Tuesday.

Launched in 2006, the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Signs report is a community check-up, measuring the vitality of the Greater Victoria region, and identifying concerns and challenges.

Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson is proud of the role this report has played year after year.

“I think over the years we’ve seen far more community engagement, partnerships, and information coming forward that people really want answers to.  And they want to know how they can work collectively to make a difference,” says Richardson.

That determination to work collectively was evident at the launch of the 2019 Vital Signs report, with more than 150 community, business, education, political and industry leaders attending.
The report culminates the results of close to 1,700 Vital Signs surveys filled out by residents across the region.

So what are some of the findings in Vital Signs 2019?  Concerning quality of life in Greater Victoria, 84 per cent of respondents would describe themselves as happy, and 63 per cent are satisfied with their work and home life balance.  But 40 per cent of transgender individuals report frequently feeling uncomfortable due to discrimination.

The “three best things” identified by the report are the region’s natural environment, climate, and air quality.  And the three biggest issues are cost of living, housing, and health care.

Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick sees the health care survey result as something to watch – a concern for our future mental-health.

“We really are embracing those things that keep people healthy” says Stanwick, “Like parks, and recreation, and transportation, but on the medical side of things, there are some areas that are of great concern.”

The survey results also found an increase in alcohol consumption in Greater Victoria.

“The average Victorian is buying at least 12 beers a week to take home and consume.  At the same time that cannabis has become legal…and we’ve certainly seen broader acceptance of that.”

Stanwick is concerned about the next generation in terms of the region’s increasing dependence on what he called “psycho-active substances.”

“What are those upstream things that basically make kids resilient, so they don’t take up the psycho-active substances?  We’re seeing really good library use. We’re seeing kids being active after school, and these things are captured in the report, so there’s some blueprints for how we can create a healthier population that doesn’t end up relying on those substances that can be so harmful to health.”

To project forward over the next decade, and what it might look like in this region, the Victoria Foundation connected with the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, housed within Toronto’s Ryerson University.

“The Brookfield Institute initiated a project about a year ago, looking at what are the broad range of trends impacting the future of employment in Canada” explains Jessica Thornton, an advisor with the institute.

“I think the Vital Signs report flagged some of the areas that our research also identified. For one, rising instances of mental health challenges, and the connection to technological use, as that relates.”

Thornton stresses the importance of looking toward the future, to take time away from the digital world for our mental health.

“We were looking at how Victoria is actually very well positioned, with its abundance of green space and booming tourism industry, to actually respond to this need to disconnect and connect with nature.”

Vital Signs also highlighted the South Island’s booming, and ever-expanding, tech sector.

“And I think that’s quite consistent with how there is a growth in Canada and how this is such a driver of change for our labour market,” says Thornton.

But while growth in the tech industry shows no signs of slowing down, Thornton points to the importance of the arts in the future.

“Creativity is a uniquely human skill that all of us will need to develop,” says Thornton.

In analyzing the Vital Signs results, and this region’s strong arts and culture community, Thornton says she was thinking “about how that would position Victoria, with its booming, vibrant arts and culture scene, to maybe look at how some of these skills can be positioned to help everyone participate in the labour market.”

“When I think back to the very first report, and where we are now, it’s extraordinary,” says Sandra Richardson about the 14th edition of the Vital Signs report.

Read the full report here.


Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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