Vital Signs 2017

About Vital Signs

Vital Signs is a community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada that measures the vitality of our communities and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life. Vital Signs is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada and with special thanks to the Toronto Foundation for developing and sharing the Vital Signs concept.


PDFVital signs 2017 short version
PDFVital signs 2017 long version

The Foundation of Greater Montréal presents a special edition of Vital SignsTM for 2017. In this year of anniversary celebrations—Montréal’s 375th and Canada’s 150th—we decided to focus this report on children: our community’s future. The story of this accomplishment deserves to be told.

The Foundation of Greater Montréal launched the Vital SignsTM project in December 2016, inviting three dozen or so children’s rights organizations to share their data on young people and tell us about the most crucial issues our children face. This report would not exist without their contribution. From the very start of this process, we laid out conditions for success, and one of them—getting children involved in the reflection—had a huge impact on how the project evolved. Six groups of young people from different neighbourhoods and various situations (children of Syrian refugees, children with physical disabilities, etc.) joined the Vital Signs conversation. Their contribution was so great, in fact, we decided to hold a forum on the importance of listening to our community’s children.

The publication last June of UNICEF’s Report Card 14 had a major influence on Vital SignsTM. This report compares the situation of Canada’s children, aged 0–17, with that of children from 40 other industrialized countries. Its basis is the sustainable development goals that 193 United Nations member countries adopted in September 2015. The results of Report Card 14 confirmed our hunch: when compared to descriptions in past UNICEF reports, the current situation of Canada’s children has noticeably deteriorated. Today, Canada ranks 25th overall for children’s well-being; in 2007, it came in 12th. Out of the 41 countries evaluated for the sustainable development goals, Canada is 32nd for the No poverty goal, and 37th for both the Zero hunger and Peace, justice and strong institutions goals. Naturally, we had to adapt the indicators, which were designed for countries, to make them applicable at the regional level. We also had to look for studies on children’s situation that remain too rare.

The findings in this portrait of children in Greater Montréal were sometimes those we were expecting; others were surprising or worrisome.


Although 35.8% of the region’s low-income neighbourhoods can be found in Montréal, the tax and social transfer system mitigates the major impacts of this poverty. Nearly 50% of high school students do not eat breakfast before school. Despite progress in retention at the high-school level, Montréal still lags behind other regions. Girls succeed best at university, receiving 59.2% of bachelor’s degrees. Regarding the access to a family doctor, only 65% of young people aged 12–19 do have regular access, as compared to 94% in Toronto and 88% in Vancouver. Most schools in Quebec teach about sustainable development, but many children experience problems caused by mold in their schools and substandard apartments.

Vital SignsTM does not offer an analysis of these observations; instead, it is intended to stimulate debate in the community of Greater Montréal. Several organizations have already announced major initiatives and we hope to see a wave of innovative projects to benefit our children. Vital SignsTM describes a multidimensional reality engaging the whole community including the children.

Yvan Gauthier
CEO Foundation of Greater Montréal

Enfants de Signes vitaux