About Vital Signs

What is Waterloo Region's Vital Signs?

Waterloo Region's Vital Signs is an annual checkup through which The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation measures the vitality of our Region, identifies significant trends, and invite community supporters to assign grades in the following 11 key areas critical to Waterloo Region's quality of life: The Gap Between the Rich and Poor, Safety, Health and Wellness, Learning, Housing, Getting Started in Our Community, Arts and Culture, The Environment, Work, Belonging and Leadership, as well as Getting Around. There is also an economic context provided within the report.

The report card data is a compilation of many trusted research sources, much of them local.  The report assists the community in making connections between issues and trends in different areas. It encourages dialogue, encourages connections and inspires action. The findings are presented in a reader-friendly format to make them as accessible as possible.

In this year's report we build off the four priority areas set in the most recent report (2013).
These are: Belonging and Leadership, Arts and Culture, Getting Started, Health and Wellness with a special focus on Getting Around.

WRVS Areas Info Graphic-01-01.png

Waterloo Region's Vital Signs also has national implications.  It is part of a national initiative led by community foundations across Canada and its findings are part of a national Vital Signs report issued annually by Community Foundations of Canada.

Why have you launched this program?

Because community foundations work with a wide range of community groups, we get a comprehensive view of local issues.

Measuring our community's vitality in critical areas will:

  • Increase community awareness about issues and opportunities in our community.
  • Spark discussion about key areas of importance to our overall Region's quality of life.
  • Provide important data that is accessible and usable to our community.
  • Identify significant trends and provide insight into issues that matter.
  • Provide year-on-year trending.
  • Make an impact on the effectiveness of our grantmaking.
  • Inform our donors about the issues and opportunities in our community to assist them in making informed decisions about their philanthropy.
  • Assist us in making connections between individuals and groups to address the issues and opportunities.
  • Inspire action.

Did you work with other organizations in the community?

We consulted with a number of community organizations and leaders, including the Region of Waterloo, Social Planning Councils, Canada's Technology Triangle, Local Health Integration Network etc. and gathered valuable research information from numerous other sources in the community. Over the last few years an expert resource panel of community leaders has provided insight into the data and indicators chosen for the report.

How did you collect the data used in the report?

Data was collected from various trusted and respected sources including Statistics Canada, Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI), Municipal Performance Measurement Program (MPMP), Environment Canada, Region of Waterloo, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Elections Canada, Crime Severity Index, Ontario Education Quality and Accountability, and Industry Canada.

Where did the idea for Waterloo Region's Vital Signs come from?

Waterloo Region's Vital Signs is based on a project of the Toronto Community Foundation and is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada.

Each community chooses its own indicators, but there are common themes and core indicators on which Community Foundations of Canada will issue a national report.  To find out more about Vital Signs reports published across Canada, visit

How is Waterloo Region's Vital Signs different from other indicator initiatives?

Different indicator initiatives exist across Canada. Some track specific issues at a local level, such as police services monitoring crime levels. Others analyze national data from a particular perspective, such as sustainability. All play an important role in helping us better understand our communities.

Waterloo Region's Vital Signs builds on existing initiatives in four valuable ways:

Collate a broad range of data:  This report provides a broad picture of the community, using relevant national and provincial data and identifies local research, on a wide range of subject areas.

Engage the communityWaterloo Region's Vital Signs reflects the community because it involves the community at every level, from determining the report's indicators and exploring research sources, to assigning grades. It sparks dialogue, encourages connections, and inspires action.

Create a national report:  Community foundations across Canada are sharing their Vital Signs results to track local trends at a national level.

Publish research you can read!  We are committed to publishing a reader-friendly document that appeals to a wide range of readers looking for a snapshot of quality of life and community vitality.

How will Waterloo Region's Vital Signs add value to current research?

Another benefit of Waterloo Region's Vital Signs is its ability to draw public attention to the terrific indicator work already taking place in our community.

By consolidating new and existing data, Waterloo Region's Vital Signs makes a wide range of information easier to access.

Individuals and organizations interested in detailed analysis of particular areas will be able to use the Waterloo Region's Vital Signs website links to find the in-depth reports they need.

When will you produce the Waterloo Region's Vital Signs report?

Waterloo Region's Vital Signs will be published on an annual basis, usually in October.

Knowledge Capital Goals

In 2006, University of Waterloo President David Johnston shared with the community his vision of making Waterloo Region Canada's Knowledge Capital by 2010. President Johnston has asked Waterloo Region's Vital Signs to assist him in capturing the metrics for this vision.

10 Knowledge Capital Goals

  1. Engage our community and school boards to provide educational experiences and outcomes embodying a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and achievement.  Click here for some metrics.
  2. Ensure our universities and colleges remain innovative leaders and are seen as outstanding across Canada.
  3. Waterloo Region should be one of the top three healthiest places to live in Canada.  Click here for some metrics.
  4. Attract and grow transformational investment in research and development. Click here for some metrics.
  5. Waterloo Region should be as good in social innovation as it is in technological innovation.  Click here for some metrics.
  6. Invest in "smart" infrastructure.  Click here for some metrics.
  7. Encourage immigration and integrate immigrants.  Click here for some metrics.
  8. Reduce poverty.  Click here and here for some metrics.
  9. Develop and promote a vibrant cultural community.  Click here for some metrics.
  10. Celebrate leadership. The Barn Raiser Award was set up in partnership with the University of Waterloo and the Waterloo Region Record to celebrate community leaders who contribute to the Waterloo tradition of inspiring, collaborative achievement. 

For more information contact:

Shannon Weber
Director, Community Investments
The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation
29 King Street East - Suite B
Kitchener, ON N2G 2K4
519-725-1806 ext. 204 or

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