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Greater Montreal’s Vital Signs®, a first annual check-up on the metropolitan region’s quality of life

Montreal, December 12, 2006 - The Foundation of Greater Montreal released its first annual check-up on the health of Greater Montreal this morning, entitled Greater Montreal’s Vital Signs. This reportpresents a statistical outlook on different sectors of community life, such as work, the gap between the rich and the poor, learning, health and wellness, housing, getting around, safety, the environment, arts and culture, getting started in the community, belonging and leadership.

“The goal of this report is to provide a portrait of the factors that contribute to the quality of life in and around Montreal,” noted Pierre Brunet, Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Foundation of Greater Montreal. “By doing so, we hope to offer food for thought, promote dialogue and raise awareness of a range of crucial issues affecting our community’s future. Not only does this report permit us to respond to immediate needs, but also to foresee long-term challenges. That’s why “For good, forever” is our motto.”

The President and CEO of The Foundation of Greater Montreal, Kathleen Weil added that “Vital Signs will be a very valuable tool for the Foundation of Greater Montreal, increasing the effectiveness of our grant-making and helping us to direct our philanthropy towards issues and problems identified in the report. It will also serve to inform donors and others interested in steering their philanthropy towards sectors of the community that are most in need. With the help of experts and using published data, we have identified some of the key strengths and weaknesses of our region.”

The following list outlines some of the key findings of the report:

  • Over the last ten years, unemployment has declined from nearly 12% to 8.5%. It remains, however, above the Canadian average.
  • Between 1980 and 2000, the income gap between rich and poor grew by 17%. In 2003, nearly half a million people lived in low income households - the highest number of any major Canadian city.
  • The population is aging and over recent decades, the median age has increased by 3 years to 39 years old. In addition, the number of Montrealers over 75 years old is increasing at the fastest rate. 
  • In the field of education, Montreal is a region of great contrast. With its major universities attended by some 175 000 students, Montreal is the second largest university centre in North America, after Boston. Moreover, Montreal is among the top research centres in Canada. On the other hand, the level of education of Montrealers is lower than elsewhere and school drop-out remains an issue of concern, especially among boys. Between 2001 and 2004, the drop-out rate grew slightly to close to 38%.
  • In the area of health, Montrealers are living longer – 76.9 years old and 82 years old, for men and women respectively. Moreover, the gap between the sexes is shrinking. However, a significant difference of about 10.5 years in life expectancy separates the most affluent and the poorest neighbourhoods. Montreal is next to last, just ahead of Toronto, for physical inactivity, and in less than 20 years, the amount of people suffering from obesity has almost doubled. In 2005, 16% of adolescents were considered overweight.
  • Even though the cost of living is lower in Montreal than elsewhere (Ottawa, Toronto and Calgary), approximately 36% and 16% of tenants and owners respectively, set aside 30% or more of their income for housing.
  • Violent crime has decreased slightly over the last five years, and Montrealers generally believe that their neighbourhoods are safe. However, reported sexual assault cases have increased over the last decade.
  • Despite an enviable rate of public transit use, the number of automobiles on the road increased by almost 11% while the population grew by only 3%. In addition, it is important to note that 60% of Montrealers spend at least an hour daily, commuting between home and work.
  • While Montrealers have reason to be pleased about public access to the island’s shorelines and permission to swim in the St. Lawrence River, they should be concerned about air quality and the high level of water consumption.
  • In North America, Montreal has the strongest concentration of artists of any urban centre and one of the highest proportions of employment linked to the cultural sector.
  • In the Greater Montreal region, in 2001, close to one in five residents was born outside of Canada, with a slight increase of 2% since 1991. In Toronto the ratio was closer to one out of two. Despite higher education levels, newcomers are more likely to be unemployed.
  • The participation rate in municipal elections remained weak in the Greater Montreal region in 2004. Montreal was lowest amongst seven of the most important Canadian urban centres in terms of the percentage of households making charitable donations and the average amount of such donations. On a positive note, Montreal's Centraide campaign saw an average annual increase of 6%, much higher than the overall growth of the economy.

The Foundation of Greater Montreal is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the well-being of the Greater Montreal community. It builds and manages permanent endowment funds and distributes the income in the form of grants to charitable organizations working in the areas of health, social services, arts and culture, education and the environment.

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Kathleen Weil
Foundation of Greater Montreal
514 866-0808
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