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.

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.

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

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.

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.

  • ▲79.9% of youth are a healthy weight
  • ▲63.9% of youth are physically active
  • ▲44.9% of youth consume at least five servings of fruit or vegetables daily
  • ▼33.0% of youth did not visit a doctor in the past year

Ontario youth feel mentally well.

  • ▼6.0% of youth are experiencing anxiety and/or depression
  • ▼33.6% of youth are experiencing elevated psychological distress
  • ▼10.3% of youth had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year

Ontario youth make choices that support healthy and safe development.

  • ▼8.7% of youth smoke cigarettes
  • ▼22.3% of youth have recently consumed excessive alcohol
  • ▼22.3% of youth have used any illicit drug
  • ▼3.9% of youth have had a sexually transmitted infection

Theme: Strong, supportive friends & families

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

  • ▼4.2% of families live in deep poverty and are struggling to afford housing
  • ▼8.1% of caregivers can't afford to feed their families balanced meals
  • ▼13.8% of children and youth live in low-income households

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

  • ▲89.5% of youth have at least one parent who usually knows where they are
  • ▼4.6% of youth do not get along with their mothers
  • ▼6.9% of youth do not get along with their fathers

Ontario youth form and maintain healthy, close relationships.

  • ▼19.7% of youth feel lonely
  • ▲95.5% of youth have someone they are comfortable talking to about problems
  • ▲98.7% of youth have family and friends who help them feel safe, secure and happy

Theme: Education, training & apprenticeships

Ontario youth achieve academic success.

  • ▲84% of English-speaking and 78% of French-speaking students enrolled in academic math meet the provincial standard
  • ▲44% of English-speaking and French-speaking students enrolled in applied math meet the provincial standard
  • ▲82% of high school students graduate
  • ▲Ontario ranks 6 out of 75 jurisdictions on overall reading achievement (PISA)

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

  • ▲7.2% of youth are enrolled in the Specialist High Skills Major program
  • ▲290,197 students have Individual Education Plans
  • ▲45.9% of high school course credits are available through e-learning

Ontario youth access diverse training and apprenticeship opportunities.

  • ▲65% of adults have completed post-secondary education
  • ▲19,600 youth were served through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program

Theme: Employment & entrepreneurship

Ontario youth have opportunities for meaningful employment experiences.

  • ▲14.7% of students are enrolled in co-op placements
  • ▲60.1% of youth are in the labour force
  • ▼9.5% of youth are not in education, employment or training
  • ▲75.6% of youth are satisfied with their job

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

  • ▲1.8% of youth are self-employed

Ontario youth are safe and supported at work.

  • ▼11.0% of WSIB claims are for youth employees

Theme: Diversity, social inclusion & safety

Ontario youth experience social inclusion and value diversity.

  • ▲69.3% of youth feel a sense of belonging in their community
  • ▲87.8% of students have positive attitudes toward diversity at school

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

  • ▲76.9% of youth have a happy home life
  • ▲95.6% of youth feel safe at school
  • ▼22% of youth have been bullied online
  • ▲95.8% of Ontarians feel safe in their community

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

  • ▼8.0% of youth participate in antisocial behaviour
  • ▼4.6% of youth who police have reported as committing a non-traffic related crime
  • ▲53.6% of youth believe officers in their local police force do a good job at treating people fairly

Theme: Civic engagement and youth leadership

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

  • ▲38.2% of youth voted in the last federal election
  • ▲10% of youth are unpaid members on a board or committee

Ontario youth are engaged in their communities.

  • ▲13.1% of youth canvassed, campaigned and fundraised as volunteers
  • ▲7% of youth volunteered with schools, religious organizations or community associations

Ontario youth leverage their assets to address social issues.

  • ▲17.8% of youth started volunteering to help a cause they personally believed in

Theme: Coordinated & yourth-friendly communities

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

  • ▲62% of parents feel recreation opportunities in their community meet their child's needs
  • ▲67.2% of youth feel there are good places in their community to spend their free time

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

  • ▲12% of callers to 211 looking for community referrals are young people