5 Random Facts from 2018’s Vital Signs Report

Mun Vital Signs
Vital Signs is a "checkup on the quality of life in Newfoundland and Labrador."

Released annually by the MUN’s Harris Centre & The Community Foundation of NL, the Vital Signs Report is one of the best news publications of the year. It calls itself a checkup on the quality of life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Every year, it focuses on different topical issues, or “vital signs” that measure the vitality of our province. The goal is to generate discussion, and it will indeed inform several upcoming Overcast articles, but for now: here’s 5 random fact copy-and-pastes from 2018’s Vital Signs Report.

We Have the Largest Gender Wage Gap in the Country

“Our province has the unfortunate distinction of having the largest gender wage gap in the country,” reads a contribution from the St. John’s Status of Women Council.

“Women make up 69% of part-time workers, and make up 66% of all minimum wage workers in the province. Women are over-represented in lower-paying sectors … and underrepresented in resource sectors … in 2017, women made up 82% of workers in health occupations, yet only 6.5% of skilled-trades workers in the province.”

In 2016, the average annual income for a male was $56,724, but $34,259 for women.

We Spend More on Gettin’ Around Than We Do on Food

Groceries: $7,421 / year
Transportation: $14,134 / year

Numbers averaged per household.

Sounds like car companies are loving our province’s outmoded public transit system. Sure, we can’t toss a subway system beneath St. John’s, but these figures should spark more conversation about the things we can do. For instance: how to best run a bus system in a non-grid city, or how to quell the jerkish attitude towards bicyclists in this province.

Here is a Statistic about the Cost of Jailing Someone That Will Make You Care More About Social Housing

Everyone knows someone who thinks people in jail deserve to be in jail, and it’s as simple as that.

It’s not, though. Not when you’re 21, living in the streets, and it rains so often your pants haven’t been dry for a week, and your mind is foggy from hunger and dehydration. Not when you’re 42 and mentally unwell, maybe addicted to something, and have no one to care for you.

The reality is, we have people living in the streets, desperate for shelter and food, and they’re forced to make decisions many of us can’t fathom. Or they’re going through something we can’t imagine, and there’s not enough social resources out there to help them back to a better life.

According to this report, in a section titled “Monthly cost of using public systems to temporarily house people who are experiencing homelessness,” it costs $200 a month for social housing, but $4,333 a month in provincial jail costs.

Time to re-evaluate your uninformed, out-moded, and probably privileged point of view on the worth of tax-dollars going towards social housing, hey? It’s the right thing to do, morally and financially.

Here Are a Few Reasons Our Provincial Healthcare System is Bleeding Money

“Up to 30% of testing, imaging, and drug use is probably unnecessary,” says Dr. Pat Parfrey, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University. “Unnecessary interventions are a particular problem when they are associated with harm – for example, CT scanning where the radiation may predispose to cancer.”

Dr. Parfrey also also revealed that “Newfoundland and Labrador spends 61% of its health budget on institutions. The average in the rest of Canada is 50%. While some of this spending is related to the need for institutions in small towns, in reality the number and type of institutions we are currently supporting were structured based on a population with more children and fewer elderly than we have at present.”

Healthcare per person in NL is $4,912. That number is way above the national average of $3,970. “Much of this can be attributed to the high costs of delivering health care in a geographically large region.”

More than Half of Us Do Not Vote in Municipal Elections

It’s true. In 2017, 51% of us did NOT vote.

That apathy extends to people running for council: in 2017, 41% of town or city Councillors stayed in their seat (or got in by acclamation) because no one ran against them.

We are notorious for complaining about our politicians, yet most of us don’t bother having a say in who they are.

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