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A Sustained Commitment: Ontario's Profile of Youth Wellbeing

The Profile of Youth Wellbeing presents a set of 20 outcomes and 52 indicators, which were selected to create a picture of how young people are doing in Ontario.

The outcomes in Stepping Up were selected based on research and consultations with stakeholders and youth. For each outcome, indicators were chosen as a proxy measure to assess and monitor the state of youth. Together, the outcomes and indicators represent our priorities for young people and our commitment to monitoring their wellbeing and development.

Why a profile?

The Government of Ontario has developed this profile in order to improve understanding about how youth in Ontario are doing – and to help identify what issues we need to pay attention to in order to support them to succeed.

The profile extends Stepping Up's common language on positive youth development for government and the youth-serving sector by providing an opportunity for ongoing evidence-based dialogue about the priority areas.

How was the profile developed?

The indicators rely on data that is currently collected on a regular basis. Publicly reported, Ontario population-level data was used where available and supplemented with data on government programs to respond to each specific outcome and round out the picture of youth wellbeing.

Indicators for the Ontario Profile of Wellbeing were selected based on their:

  • Relevance to the outcomes we want for Ontario's youth
  • Regularity in data collection (annual or biennial)
  • Representation of a large, stable youth sample
  • Representation of Ontario's context
  • Balance of the data's sensitivity to change and volatility

As the profile was created by curating the available data, its value is not found in the individual data points but in the picture that is created when all of the indicators are understood together. The overall portrait of young people in Ontario tells a unique story about a generation, a context and a trajectory of change.

The profile was not developed with the intention of assigning a degree of causality in changes to the indicators to activities inspired by Stepping Up. Changes to the indicators may reflect past investment and contextual conditions beyond our control. Likewise, the indicators have not been selected as an evaluative tool for Stepping Up itself, or for individual programs.

Working with what is available.

The indicator sources used in the profile have differences in populations represented, age demographics of the samples, data collection methodology and regularity of reporting. (Please see the Appendix for original data sources.) Many of the indicators are based on voluntary, self-reported surveys. Although this data provides an excellent opportunity to hear the voice of youth, not all voices are represented. For example, many of the data sources exclude First Nations youth on reserves and in remote communities.

Considering the differences for marginalized youth

Photo of young girl and boy leaning against a wall

The main goal in creating the Profile of Youth Wellbeing has been to develop an overall picture of how all youth across Ontario are doing. By focusing on population-level indicators, we recognize that the story presented in the profile does not necessarily reflect the experiences of individual youth. Each data source used in the profile is limited by its sample, which in many cases under-represents the experiences of marginalized populations (such as Aboriginal youth or "undocumented" youth).

With limited data available to assess outcomes for youth, we readily acknowledge the methodological challenges in creating the profile. However, we believe the profile plays an important role in showing the overall status of Ontario's young people - and we see it as providing a first, foundational step that can be used to demonstrate where the experiences of some groups of young people are very different from the rest of the population.

As the Review of the Roots of Youth Violence report notes, it is important to proceed with the best information that is available and then work to make improvements over time, rather than waiting for something better to emerge.

Each year, the province will publish an update on the Profile of Youth Wellbeing. As a part of this update, we commit to digging deeper into the experiences of marginalized youth - including Aboriginal youth, youth in and leaving care, youth with disabilities or special needs, racialized youth, newcomer youth, LGBTTQ youth, francophone youth, youth living in rural and remote communities, youth from low-income families and youth in conflict with the law.

In addition, we believe that this profile plays a role in highlighting the need for more meaningful data about youth and identifying areas where current data is lacking. The profile will be improved as the data improves and new information emerges. We know that collaboration with partners in the sector will be important to improving data and monitoring on the profile.

A critical step forward

The profile is a statement; a commitment to paying attention to the wellbeing of young people. The outcomes provide an ideal reality that we hope all youth can experience. The indicators will allow us to know, each year, how many youth are getting closer to reaching that reality. Although the profile will not perfectly describe all youth in Ontario, it provides the questions we can ask the young people in our lives about how they are faring and what supports they need to develop and thrive.

Ontario Profile of Youth Wellbeing

Theme: Health & Wellness

Ontario youth are physically healthy.

Ontario youth feel mentally well.

Ontario youth make choices that support healthy and safe development.

Theme: Strong, Supportive Friends & Families

Ontario youth have families and guardians equipped to help them thrive.

Ontario youth have at least one consistent, caring adult in their lives.

Ontario youth form and maintain healthy, close relationships.

Theme: Education, Training & Apprenticeships

Ontario youth achieve academic success.

Ontario youth have educational experiences that respond to their needs and prepare them to lead.

Ontario youth access diverse training and apprenticeship opportunities.

Theme: Employment & Entrepreneurship

Ontario youth have opportunities for meaningful employment experiences.

Ontario youth have the skills and resources needed to develop a successful career or business.

Ontario youth are safe and supported at work.

Theme: Diversity, Social Inclusion & Safety

Ontario youth experience social inclusion and value diversity.

Ontario youth feel safe at home, at school, online and in their communities.

Ontario youth respect, and are respected by, the law and justice system.

Theme: Civic Engagement and Youth Leadership

Ontario youth play a role in informing the decisions that affect them.

Ontario youth are engaged in their communities.

Ontario youth leverage their assets to address social issues.

Theme: Coordinated & Yourth-Friendly Communities

Ontario youth have access to safe spaces that provide quality opportunities for play and recreation.

Ontario youth know about and easily navigate resources in their communities.