November 04, 2013 - 3:34 PM
SOUTH OKANAGAN - Penticton and its neighbours get straight A's in safety, education, arts and leadership but will have to stay after class for poor job opportunities and failing to tighten the gap between the rich and the poor.
The grades come from the 2013 Vital Signs report from the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan-Similkameen. The report is the foundation's attempt to paint a picture of the community's health which can be used as an improvement tool by municipalities and advocacy groups.
The Salvation Army Penticton Food Bank was used 14,376 times in 2012, a nine per cent increase over 2011. A single use is defined as a person walking into the food bank, receiving food and walking out.
Foundation executive director Aaron McRann said many visitors are repeat customers. People on disability, for example, who can afford rent, but not groceries, will visit the food bank multiple times each. Summerland's food bank use also went up to 390 uses or eight per cent while Osoyoo's increased by 1,785 uses or 27 per cent.
Some of those users might also be the unemployed. Nine per cent of eligible workers in Penticton and Summerland were without work. Those who can find a job probably earn around $32,810 a year in after-tax income, slightly less than B.C.'s median income of $34,000. Most workers make a living in the health and education fields in Penticton with manufacturing and construction coming in second place for most employees followed by wholesale and the retail trades.
For all of its charms Penticton residents suffer more than Summerland with 34 per cent of Penticton residents claiming they're depressed or have anxiety. That's 10 per cent more than the provincial average.
Education and educators did well on their report card. Sixty-six per cent of aboriginal district students in School District 67 completed six-years of school in 2012. The B.C. average is only 57 per cent.
Instruction director Don MacIntyre said five years ago aboriginal education was the same as other neighbouring districts. School District 67 decided it needed changing.
"I think part of what we had working in the past few years is to make sure their culture is valued in the schools," he said. Instead of having aboriginal activities in isolation, with only aboriginal students, the activities are now shared with native and non-native students.
"It helped build the self-esteem of aboriginal learners," MacIntyre said. "We have also have begun showing physical representation of aboriginal art and language."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013