Our Wellness Strengths

Population Profile
Our community’s population profile shows several marked differences from the Alberta average; together, these differences signal social needs that may need extra attention in the years ahead. It is useful to note that this profile has similarities to other communities in British Columbia and Alberta whose economies rely heavily on resource development.

Our population is younger than most other municipalities in Alberta and includes a relatively high number of temporary residents attracted to work in surrounding resource industries. Especially in town, we have a somewhat higher percentage of youth under 20 and a notably lower percentage of seniors 65 or older. Our rural population is slightly older on average, with 42% between 40 and 59 years of age. See table 2 for details.
3 Table 2 Population Age Profile
3 Table 3 Income Census
We also have higher than average median annual income, with the striking exception of single mothers, who earn 19% less than their counterparts across Alberta. As seen in table 3, the median income for Hinton families (defined as 2.6 persons per household) is $82,069, about 11% above the Alberta norm. But for lone female parents, the median is $30,259. That’s 2.5 times less than our male-led lone parent families, whose median stands at $73,370.

49% are satisfied with human services offered here - Town of Hinton Social Development Strategy Hargreaves & Associates, 2009

96% say Hinton is a good place to raise a family - Town of Hinton Social Development Strategy Hargreaves & Associates, 2009
Our community has more single family homes, fewer apartments and a larger percentage of manufactured homes than most Alberta municipalities. Housing is a significant issue. Not only are there specific gaps in the housing stock, but nearly a quarter of us cannot afford the going rates. Low income renters experience the most significant housing need - especially households receiving social assistance, but also those living on modest salaries.

27% of Hinton households are likely needing help with shelter costs - Based on Provincial Core Need Income Threshold

Taking the Wellness Pulse
What is life like in our community? A 2009 survey by Hargreaves & Associates highlights both positive and negative perceptions. On the plus side, 96% said Hinton is a good place to raise a family and more than 80% reported a strong sense of family, willingness to help others and tolerance of differences.

On the other hand, satisfaction with human services in the community was only 49%. The lowest ratings came in response to questions about affordable housing, drugs and property-related crime. Many residents also expressed concerns about a general unwillingness to volunteer and about a lack of activities for young people. In addition to youth, unmet needs are apparent among seniors, newcomers, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and single-parent families.

“Volunteerism is seen as a cornerstone for getting things done in Hinton. Two-thirds of respondents have previously volunteered and 93% are somewhat or very likely to do so again. Yet there is a feeling among 45% of respondents that residents are unwilling to volunteer, suggesting that volunteerism is driven by an attitude of taking responsibility.” - Town of Hinton Social Development Strategy Hargreaves & Associates, 2009

In areas where programs and services are locally available, a significant percentage of residents said they don’t know about those supports. When services are not offered in Hinton, or when they’re available but not well known, we either go without or travel as far as Edmonton, 270 km away.

With survey in hand, the Town of Hinton approved a long-term strategy for meeting our community needs. That Social Development Strategy is available online at www.hinton.ca/municipal government/major projects & plans.

Many Hands on Deck 
Many organizations are already hard at work addressing the community’s health and social needs. Funded largely by annual government grants, they do their best to address drug and substance abuse, poverty, domestic violence, accessibility, suicide, active living, volunteerism and programming needs among youth and seniors. The following players will be essential to future wellness.

Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) helps the community identify and respond to social needs, including the needs of the retired and semi-retired, children, families and volunteers.

The Hinton Friendship Centre strengthens Aboriginal culture while encouraging equal access to and participation in Canadian society.

The Hinton Youth Centre, located at the Dr. Duncan Murray Recreation Centre, offers an expanding slate of programs and activities free to any youth. Among recent additions is a pilot program that involves students in peer tutoring.

The Active Creative Engaged (ACE) communities strive to improve quality of life by nurturing grassroots leadership and action in arts, culture and active living.

Acute and community health care services include 24-hour emergency services with surgical capabilities, lab services, diagnostic imaging, CT scans, mobile MRI, chemotherapy, extended care, assisted living, rehabilitation services, dentistry, optometry, chiropractic care, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy and other community health care services.

Alberta Employment and Immigration provides career and employment counseling; access to training programs; a Labour Market Information Centre; and information on schools, colleges and universities as well as apprenticeship and industry programs. Student Finance Board funding applications are also available.

Alberta Health Services, Addictions and Mental Health Service provides services to help individual of all ages address emotional and psychological problems. It also provides assessment and treatment for purposes with different problems in thought, emotion and behaviour and provide public education programs to create awareness of positive mental health.

Alberta Family and Youth Services provides child protection services, family support, foster care and residential resources.

Hinton Community Health Services provides programs ranging from prenatal classes to early childhood development, communicable disease prevention and health education. The staff includes health inspectors, public health nurses, dental hygienists, home care workers, home care nurses, pathologists and occupational therapists.

Hinton Adult Learning Society provides non credit, part time, community based learning courses in Adult Basic Literacy, English Language Learning, Employability Enhancement, Community Issues and General Interest. HALS is also a Volunteer Tutor Adult Literacy Service provider, serving adults wishing to improve their reading, writing, math, and English skills. As well, HALS is an iCCAN connected video conferencing site.

Safety and security needs are handled by the RCMP, Hinton Bylaw Enforcement, Alberta Sheriffs, Hinton Fire Department and Hinton Emergency Medical Services. The 24 RCMP officers responsible for law enforcement and crime prevention set the following priorities for 2010: trafficking drugs, police visibility/community involvement, late night alcohol fuelled violence, mischief and violence.

Fire and rescue services are provided by the Hinton Fire Department. Led by a fire chief and deputy chief, the department employs 31 firefighters. It responded to 196 emergency calls in 2009, including fires, incidents involving dangerous goods, multi-vehicle collisions/extrication and other rescues. The department promotes fire prevention and public education through speaking engagements and such initiatives as Junior Firefighters and P.A.R.T.Y. (Preventing Alcohol Related Trauma in Youth).

Service clubs and their members generously donate time, expertise and dollars to many causes.

Worship centres meet spiritual needs and extend caring hands to people needing support. Our community has more than a dozen churches and places of worship.

An Interagency Committee and other informal networks help connect people to work together. Yet there is strong sense that greater cooperation and collaboration are needed to avoid gaps and overlaps at a time when resources are scarce and needs are growing.

The mix of cultures living here is also unique. According to the 2006 Census, 11% of our town’s population is Aboriginal, which is about twice the rate found elsewhere in Alberta. As shown here, (see Chart 1), our community also has noticeably higher percentage of Filipino people, Chinese and Japanese than the Alberta average.
Naming the Challenges 
Beyond Boredom,” a 2006 report by the Foothills Research Institute helps to crystallize the mix of challenges facing Hinton and area. Hired to study the social implications of local economic development, the consultants found high levels of family dysfunction and substance abuse. They linked those realities to “lack of social cohesion” resulting from five social risk factors:
  • Income and class divides between high-paid resource workers and workers in the services sector
  • High incomes coupled with high consumer debts in a “keeping up with the Joneses” culture
  • Unionized work environments resulting in a culture of entitlement
  • Transience
  • The prevalence of shift work
3 Chart 1 Visable Minorities
Consultants recommended that human service agencies receive resources to take a lead role in addressing these risks. The alternative, researchers warned, is “decreased social cohesion and increased isolation.”