Are the kids alright? Region releases results of the 2023 Youth Impact Survey

This is the third time the Children and Youth Planning Table of Waterloo Region has conducted the Youth Impact Survey, which focuses on young people’s experiences and challenges of living in the Region.

The information gives government and community groups an idea of how they are feeling and how to best support them.

The data is released in a series of snapshots focusing on different subpopulations. This week, the Immigrant Snapshot was released.

The survey was conducted in the spring of 2023 and had 1,867 young people between the ages of nine and 18 respond. That’s a 77 per cent increase in responses over the last survey in 2021.

“The voices of young newcomers are critical in guiding our community towards a future that is inclusive and respectful of everyone’s unique background. Their input helps us understand the diverse tapestry of our community and reminds us to act with compassion and openness,” Karen Redman, Chair of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, said in a press release.

Of the respondents, 344 youth identified as immigrants — 18 per cent of respondents. The Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership defines immigrants as anyone born outside Canada, now living, working or studying in this country.

Of the immigrants who responded, 63 per cent described their mental health as positive. That’s down from the 67 per cent reported in the last survey in 2021.

The sense of belonging to the community increased for immigrant respondents from 67 per cent in 2021 to 73 per cent last year.

Over half of immigrant youth — 53 per cent — said they felt like a valued member of the community. That’s compared to 48 per cent of Canadian-born respondents.

The total number of young people who said they have or sometimes go hungry increased significantly from 5 per cent in 2021 to 15 per cent in 2023. For immigrant respondents, it was 13 per cent. It was 14 per cent for Canadian-born.

Housing insecurity also jumped up. About 16 per cent of immigrants said they had experienced homelessness compared to 11 per cent of Canadian-born.

Those born in Canada, were 17 per cent more likely to have a health care provider they could regularly connect with.

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