Vital Signs reports show strengths and needs of urban communities
Vital Signs is an annual community check-up on key quality-of-life areas, and is conducted by community foundations across Canada. On October 7, eight communities across Ontario released their own local Vital Signs reports, including Huronia (Simcoe County), Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Peterborough, Sudbury, Toronto, and Windsor.
Housing plays a big role in determining overall wellness and health, yet several Ontario communities report high proportions of households spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent and shelter costs. Simcoe County reported that 47 per cent of rental households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, while Peterborough reported 48 per cent. Although London boasts some of the most affordable housing for buyers, 45 per cent of tenant households are spending more than they can afford on rent.
The rising cost of housing has also affected other areas of life, such as food security. In Peterborough, 12 per cent of households were considered food insecure due to low income, compared to a provincial rate of eight per cent. In Greater Sudbury, 16,201 people used a food bank or meal provider each month; 74 per cent of these individuals were
For a fifth year in a row, the Toronto region – which remains the second most unaffordable housing market in Canada, behind Vancouver – saw over one million visits to food banks. Food bank visits in the inner suburbs (Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, etc.) have increased by 38 per cent in the last six years. Similarly, demand for London food bank services has risen 40 per cent in just the last five years.
These short snapshots of community vitality inform citizens about the challenges within their cities, as well as how to help their communities grow and move forward. The reports also invite citizens to contribute to building healthier, more connected communities. There are many ways we can do this, whether it’s through civic engagement, volunteerism, or staying active to improve fitness and health.