Vital Signs 2015


Vital Signs presents research gathered by many local and national organizations deeply involved in each of the issue areas. The indicators presented in Hamilton’s 2010-2012 reports were prioritized by the Vital Signs Advisory Committee and Community Foundations of Canada.

Vital Signs Advisory Committee

Indicator selection and presentation for the 2010-2012 reports was overseen by the Vital Signs Advisory Committee. Many members of this committee are also members of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction’s Evaluation and Learning Working Group, which has spent several years developing a comprehensive set of indicators to measure Hamilton’s progress on a wide range of socio-economic issues, the core of which are covered in this report. In order to cover all the Vital Signs issue areas and provide a broader quality of life picture, the group was supplemented with additional experts from the environment, economy, and arts and culture sectors to form the Vital Signs Advisory committee.

Indicator Selection

Progress on the indicators selected and prioritized by the Committee was examined in three ways:


Information in the reports was gathered in co-operation with research experts from a variety of organizations, both local and national. Data sources and contributors are outlined in the Acknowledgements section. The information and key findings were reviewed by Advisory Committee members and other external experts. It is important to note this report is based on secondary data, that is, data that already exists. This includes the most recent Canadian Census data, as well as the results of local researchers and organizations. Consequently, Vital Signs should not be viewed as a formal academic research report. The reader should consider it to be a snapshot of the city at a point in time using common and accessible measurement data.

Statistical Notes

Every effort was made to use information pertaining to the city of Hamilton where possible. In the case of some Statistics Canada information, data was only available for the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) which includes Burlington and Grimsby. This is indicated in the report where applicable.


Before Tax Low Income Measure (LIM): This report uses the before tax Low Income Measure, which looks at the number of people who are earning below 50% of the median income for households in Hamilton. For a family of four, the before tax LIM is $42,256, for a single person, it is $21,128. While Statistics Canada does not have an official “poverty line”, the Low Income Measure and the before tax Low Income Cut-Off (see below) are commonly used thresholds to describe low income in Canada.

Before-Tax Low Income Cut-Off (LICO): An income threshold below which a family will likely devote a larger share of its income on the necessities of food, shelter and clothing than the average family.

Census Metropolitan Area (CMA): An area consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a major urban core. A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the urban core. The Hamilton CMA consists of Hamilton, Burlington, and Grimsby.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: emitted gases in the atmosphere that reduce the loss of heat into space and therefore contribute to increasing global temperatures through the greenhouse effect.

Ground-level ozone: component of smog; severe lung irritant; generated when combustion emissions such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react in the presence of sunlight, via a complex set of chemical reactions.

Living Wage: The wage level required for a person or family employed full-time and year-round, to meet a basic standard of living that allows for good health, education, and entertainment opportunities, and full participation in modern life.

Neighbourhoods: This report uses Forward Sortation Areas (FSA’s) to capture neighbourhood statistics. Forward Sortation Areas divide Hamilton into 22 different areas, based on the first three letters of the postal code. They usually have a population between 6,000 and 30,000 people. Forward Sortation Areas are larger in population and land size than census tracts which are also commonly used in neighbourhood data, but FSA’s have the added advantage of having current information available every year, while census tract information is only available every five years. For a map of Hamilton FSA’s, click here.

Recent Immigrant: Immigrants who have arrived in Canada within the last five years. The 2006 census defines recent immigrants as those immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006.