Vital Signs is an annual provincial check-up on the quality of life in Newfoundland and Labrador, looking at everything from our population’s health issues to specific stats like average income levels for seniors. The 2016 edition was recently released. It’s compiled in collaboration between Memorial University’s Harris Centre and the Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We Have Piles of Rare Genetic Disorders

Many of which you’ve heard of – hemophilia, hereditary deafness – but there’s a dozen or so more you likely haven’t heard of. Such as “Autosomal Retinitis Pigmentosa” which causes decreased night vision and progressive loss of side vision, or, again with the eyes, “Stargardt Macular Dystrophy,” which is an eye disorder that causes progressive loss of central vision.

Nunatsiavut, not St. John’s, is the Province’s Artistic Hotbed

Newfoundland & Labrador is known for its higher-than-average headcount of notable artists. What many might not know, however, is that Nunatsiavut has the highest proportion of people working as creative and performing artists, at 3.7 per 1,000 people. And you can check out a lot of these artists this weekend, during the Katingavik Inuit Arts Festival or its sister festival, iNuit Blanche.

It’s a Myth That Straight Men Here Are Pigs “Because They Can Be”

It’s been said, even written, that men can be a little sleazy and lame in this town and get away with it, because, in the heterosexual dating circle, many women are competing for fewer men – so it’s slim pickings. But the reality is, whether you live in the city or around the bay, 51% of people are male, 49% female, and that’s pretty well 50-50. In other words, the townie myth that men get away with being pigs and poor dates because a skewed ratio of men-to-women leaves women with little to choose from, is a statistically invalid excuse for these men’s behaviour (or for one’s tolerance of their behaviour).

Our Young Blood is the Lowest in Canada

The report states that “The population of Newfoundland & Labrador is the oldest in the country, and it is aging quickly.” So, if the expression is true that young blood keeps an economy/workforce/province fresh, we’re not in fine form for the future. For example, not only are the 20-somethings fleeing to more liveable cities, there are way less kids in general. There are less students enrolled in high schools here today than there were in the early 70s. In 1971, there were 162,828 students enrolled in NL high schools; in 2016, there are only 66,800.

25% Of Our Municipalities Can’t Fill All Positions on Council

There are nearly 270 active municipalities in NL. Yet, the last recorded stats show that 25% were unable to fill all of the positions on their council. That’s some serious civic disengagement, which translates into poorly run towns and subsequent disarray in those towns. Without a full roster of active, engaged, visionary councillors, a town’s future is unable to be bright. Yet, we have communities with de facto mayors (as a result of them being the ONLY person on council!) There is a 19 year old deputy mayor in Pinware! “A council can’t operate in a democratic way if all you’re doing is limping along with two or three people,” says Craig Pollett, CEO of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador. “There’s just no way to do the work to engage the community and do the kind of consultation that needs to happen.”