Shift of priorities in report card

Red Deer’s third annual report card, released at noon today, shows some significant shifts in the way people view life in the city compared with previous reports.

Red Deer’s third annual report card, released at noon on Tuesday, shows some significant shifts in the way people view life in the city.

Vital Signs, prepared by the Red Deer and District Community Foundation, gathers data from a variety of research organizations and then quizzes local citizens for their reaction in 12 key areas, says foundation CEO Janice Wing.

Areas include safety, education, health, poverty, arts and the environment.

Respondents were given statistical details such as crime rates and compliance with recycling programs, and then asked to grade Red Deer on a scale of one to five.

Despite stats showing a drop in both violent crimes and property offences, people in Red Deer rate crime, law and order as their No. 1 area of concern this year, said Wing.

Following that are health care in second place and poverty, homelessness and hunger in third.

That’s a shift from 2007, the first year of the program, when crime was in third place among people’s concerns and health care actually got top grades as one of the region’s strengths.

“Not that long ago . . . health care was on the top of the list of things that were going really well. Again, you know, that’s an area that has changed very quickly.”

Also significant, education was given a much better grade this year while it had not performed as well on previous report cards.

“Education from this year is something that people are proud of and think that we’re doing well,” said Wing.

The report showed that people in Red Deer feel relatively confident in the local economy.

That said, there is significant worry about poverty and homelessness.

Kim Pasula, vice-chairman of the community foundation, said the report is a vital tool for making decisions about where to apply resources to get the most efficient use of money when there isn’t enough to go around.

It’s a sad irony that, in a weakened economy, needs increase while funding sources dry up, said Pasula.

New this year, the foundation has compiled its report to community stakeholders in a calendar, examining one issue per month.

Copies of the calendar are not available for sale but can be downloaded from the community foundation’s website,

A full Vital Signs report supplement will be published in the Advocate on Thursday.

Red Deer’s Vital Signs project is part of a nationwide program operated by the Community Foundations of Canada. Vital Signs reports were released on Tuesday by 16 communities across Canada, said Wing.

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