#GenerationFlux: Understanding the seismic shifts that are shaking Canada's youth 

National Report - 2012


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Download fact sheet (PDF)

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Every year through Vital Signs, issues concerning youth rise to the top of the agenda: unemployment, high school completion rates and the challenges posed by record levels of inactivity and obesity.


This year, the Community Foundations of Canada decided to concentrate our national Vital Signs report on youth issues – collecting disparate research from many sources to create a more complete picture of Canada's young people.

We found the predictable trajectory that guided the lives of the previous generation is gone. Today's youth are growing up in an era of complexity and uncertainty. Changes have delayed, or even destroyed, the landmarks that once signaled a transition from one phase of life to another.

Key Findings 

  • Education - the lag time between high school and post-secondary is increasing.
  • Employment - 1 out of 3 25-to-29-year-olds with a post-secondary diploma moved into low-skilled occupations after graduation.
  • Health - 3.2 million Canadian 12-19 year olds are at risk for developing depression. Yet, 3 out of 4 children and youth who need specialized treatment services do not receive them.
  • Engagement - in the 1960s, about 70% of the members of a new cohort would vote in the first election in which they were eligible to participate; by 2004 it was only slightly over 30%.

While these findings indicate some big challenges in key domains, today's youth are also nimble and passionate. They are comfortable with rapidly changing technology and quickly plug into emerging global issues. More than 8 in 10 teens say trust and honesty are "very important" to them and 75% of 12-19 year-olds report the highest level of attachment to community.

Next steps

We know we need to take steps to maximize the use of young people's skills and contributions, ensure continued health and well-being, increase young people's sense of community, of civic engagement and connection, and close the gap between those with, and without, opportunity.

The goal of Vital Youth and the Vital Youth Dialogue is to be a catalyst for community conversations. Convened with the support of Deloitte, on October 3, 2012, CFC will host its first Vital Youth Dialogue in Ottawa, moving beyond reporting on national youth issues to engaging youth in a creative, forward-thinking conversation.

The highly-interactive, solutions-focused day will serve as a prototype for similar discussions at the CFC 2013 Conference in Winnipeg next June and in communities nationally.


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