Vital Signs 2015


Hamilton’s high-school completion and post-secondary education rates are improving, but continue to be below provincial averages. School readiness is slightly below provincial average and standardized test performance varies widely by school. Measures of life-long learning show Hamilton to be better than provincial and national average.

Completed Post-Secondary Education

In 2010, in the Hamilton CMA, 51.1% of people aged 15 or over had completed post-secondary education compared with 52.7% provincially and 51.8% nationally. The percentage is increasing though – in 2000 the percentage was 43.4%.[1] Hamilton is above the Ontario average in the completion of apprenticeship or trades certificates, and Mohawk College is the largest trainer of apprentices in Ontario.[2]

See the Hamilton Spectator’s Code Red report for a map of post-secondary completion by neighbourhood.

High School Non-Completion Rates

In 2010 in the Hamilton CMA, 19.9% of people aged 15+ had not completed high school, slightly above the provincial average of 18.7%. Hamilton’s non-completion rates are showing improvement over time though – in 2000, 27.0% of people did not have a high school diploma.[3] This rate varies widely across the city: as last year’s Vital Signs reported, the proportion of 20-24 year olds who do not have a diploma and are not in school varies from 0% in 23 census tracts to over 65% in four census tracts.[4]

Standardized Student Test Scores

Students in Hamilton are tested in Grade 3, Grade 6, and Grade 9 by the “EQAO” which measures student performance against provincial standards. The HWCDSB consistently achieves higher than provincial averages in reading and writing. Though improving, the HWDSB is usually just under the provincial average. In 2010-11, both school boards came in slightly below the provincial standard in for Grade 3 and 6 math, and Grade 9 applied math.[5] (The HWCDSB exceeded the provincial standard for grade 9 academic math). In most areas measured, girls outperform boys and there is a wide variation by school. In both boards there are schools that exceed the provincial average, and schools that are below. To view results by board or by individual school: visit

Early Development Instrument

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) assesses readiness for school among senior kindergarten students across five areas:

  • Physical health and well-being
  • Social competence
  • Emotional maturity
  • Language and cognitive development
  • Communication skills and general knowledge.

Hamilton results for 2010 showed 26.2% of children vulnerable in at least one of the five areas – similar to the national average but slightly worse than the 25.0% provincial average. These results vary by neighbourhood: in some lower city neighbourhoods, over 50% of children are vulnerable in at least one category. In other neighbourhoods with the lowest rates of vulnerable children, approximately 10% are vulnerable in one or more categories.[6]

The following chart shows additional factors that contribute to children’s vulnerability: the two strongest contributors are if a child has English as a second language, and if his or her parents did not complete high school. Additional findings are that boys are more vulnerable than girls, and children born September through December (and thus are younger than their classmates) are more vulnerable than those born at other times during the year.[7]



Canadian Composite Learning Index

The Canadian Composite Learning Index is based on a combination of statistical indicators that reflect the many ways Canadians learn, whether in school, in the home, at work or within the community. It is one of the only measures of lifelong learning available in Canada and is produced annually by the Canadian Council for Learning. The Index is available for over 4,500 towns and cities across Canada.

In 2010, the Composite Learning Index for Hamilton was 81: higher than the provincial (79) and national averages (75), and an improvement over last year’s score of 77. Over the last five years, Hamilton’s score has been between 77 and 81.[8]

For more information and details on the Composite Learning Index, visit the Canadian Council for Learning’s site.

Attendance at Ontario Early Years Centres and Parent and Family Literacy Centres

In 2010, there were over 242,000 visits to Ontario Early Years Centres and Parenting and Family Literacy Centres.   Over the last six years (as the chart below illustrates), annual visits increased by 176% from 2005 to 2008 and have since leveled off and remained stable.





[1] Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey by special request, program A050924. Data provided by the Community Foundations of Canada.
[2] Mohawk College, Dean, Faculty of Skilled Trades and Apprentices. Personal Communication.
[3] Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey by special request, program A050705. Data provided by the Community Foundations of Canada.
[4] Hamilton Community Foundation 2010. Hamilton’s Vital Signs.
[5] Education Quality and Accountability Office 2011. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board & Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
[6] City of Hamilton, Social Development and Early Childhood Division.
Special Request.
[7] City of Hamilton, Social Development and Early Childhood Division.
Special Request.
[8] City of Hamilton. Early Years Research Team and the Best Start Network.
Special Request.

[9] Parenting and Family Literacy Centres located within schools of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
NB1 Hamilton Ontario Early Years Centres included: Hamilton West, Hamilton East, Hamilton Mountain, Stoney Creek, Ancaster/Dundas/Flamborough, Niwasa.
NB2 Visits – includes all daily attendance of individuals, which may include multiple visits by the same person to one site, or different sites across different times.
NB3 Parenting and Family Literacy Centres data are limited to school years: 2007-2008 (2007), 2008-2009 (2008), 2009-2010 (2009), and 2010-2011 (2010).