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Vital Signs report for 2019 sizes up P.E.I. in key areas

Jim Randall, chairman of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI, unveiled the findings in a report that used local knowledge to measure and reflect the vitality of Prince Edward Island.
Jim Randall, chairman of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI, unveiled the findings in a report that used local knowledge to measure and reflect the vitality of Prince Edward Island. - Contributed

Take a look at yourself, then take a good look around.

Do you like what you are seeing – and experiencing – on Prince Edward Island?

There appears to be cause for many to answer positively and a good number to respond negatively with plenty of room for others to have mixed feelings. 

A new report called Vital Signs offers a snapshot of what is good and what is not so good about the state of the country’s smallest province.

The report, a collaboration between the Community Foundation of P.E.I. and UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, used local knowledge to measure and reflect on the vitality of the province.

The report explores 10 key measures, including housing, health and well-being, poverty, education and diversity.

“We turn out pretty well in terms of a lot of things,’’ says Jim Randall, chairman of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI.

“I think one of the things that emerges is because we are such a small jurisdiction, we can turn on a dime sometimes. We can be nimble. If we’ve got problems, we’ve got the capacity to turn that around pretty quickly.’’

Well, certainly not everything.

The report does highlight the chronic housing crisis affecting both rural and urban areas in Prince Edward Island.

Then there is the health of Islanders. The percentage who smoke (17.3 per cent) is 1.5 per cent higher than the national average.

Obesity is, well, a growing problem. Close to 38 per cent of Islanders are considered obese, well above the 26.8 per cent national average.


Highs and lows

Here is a quick look at both some of the positive and negative findings offered in a snapshot of Prince Edward Island in a new report called Vital Signs, which is a collaboration between the Community Foundation of P.E.I. and UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies.

On the up side:

  • P.E.I. has the highest level of population growth of any province in Canada for the past two years
  • A strong sense of belonging to the local community
  • Continuing to lead the country in voter turnout
  • Vibrant arts and culture community contributing to Islanders’ quality of life

On the down side:

  • The percentage of Islanders who smoke, are obese and have high blood pressure is all above the national average
  • Despite a recent economic boom, the province continues to have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country
  • Housing shortage that sees Charlottetown and Summerside experiencing the lowest vacancy rates on record
  • Concern raised over Islanders, especially youth, increasingly losing hope about their future

Still, just living in P.E.I. leaves many feeling good about themselves. More than 72 per cent of Islanders (aged 12 and over) report having a strong sense of belonging to the local community.

“If people haven’t lived in other places, they don’t realize how special that is, and so that sense of belonging and sense of caring for one another is reflected in so many of the things that we do,’’ says Randall.

Kent Hudson, executive director of the Community Foundation of P.E.I., agrees a high level of engagement exists in Prince Edward Island.

He is hoping the Vital Signs report will spur plenty more.

The CFPEI is shooting to raise at least $625,000 through donations and gifts over the next five years to provide grants to projects that address priorities that have been identified in the report.

“How do we create solutions that are wide across the board for P.E.I.? And for us, we need to break it down into smaller parts,’’ says Hudson.

“We need to find partners in each of those areas…what we want to do is uncover those that are passionate about their communities and about causes, whether it’s health care (or) whether it’s poverty, and engage them to make a difference.’’

Six groups of community participants were invited from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in different regions to participate in focus groups. Participants were asked to comment on the importance and impact of the different themes and to offer potential solutions.

CFPEI, which has been in operation for more than 20 years, currently manages 90 individual charitable funds with a value of over $12 million.


Learn more

The following four information sessions are being held across P.E.I. to provide information and discussion on the 2019 Vital Signs Report. To register, visit cfpei.ca.

  • Nov. 25, 7-9:30 p.m. at the Mill River Resort
  • Nov. 26, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Loyalist Country Inn, Summerside
  • Nov. 27, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Rodd Charlottetown Hotel
  • Nov. 28, 7-8:30 p.m. at Lane’s River House Inn, Montague

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