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Working-Age Adults Are the Poorest in Toronto — Canada's Biggest City


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Toronto is arguably Canada’s best-known city, but it’s also one of the hardest for working-age people to live in, according to a new report.

The Toronto Foundation report, "Toronto’s Vital Signs," highlights that the city has seen intense growth over the last year, but that inequality persists — specifically for youth, newcomers, and communities of color.

"Despite our self-image, Toronto does not work for all," Sharon Avery, president and CEO of Toronto Foundation, said in a statement. "In fact, for a growing majority, life in the city poses a serious struggle, and the trend lines suggest things will get worse before they get better. For those who think that things are no tougher today, Toronto's Vital Signs is a wake-up call. We've compiled more data than ever before and the evidence is clear: Inequality is the new normal."

The report calls Toronto "Canada’s working-age poverty capital," stating that the city holds the highest poverty rates for people who are over 18, but not yet retired.

It points to 10 key areas where the city has seen "pains," as well as "narrow gains": income and wealth; housing; work; arts, culture, and recreation; environment; getting around; civic engagement and belonging; health and wellness; learning; and safety.  

Toronto is the most expensive city in the country, and it also sees the most income inequality, which leads to larger wealth disparities, according to the report.

Poverty in Toronto is decreasing overall, but it disproportinately affects certain populations.

"Since 1980, newcomers, racialized populations, and young people have had no inflation adjusted increases in income, while older, Canadian-born, white residents have had as much as 60% in income growth," the report reads.

It’s no secret that housing costs are high in Toronto, and while unemployment has improved, the report finds that jobs are less secure. Childcare costs in Toronto are also the highest in the country, which impacts parents’ ability to return to work.

A notable highlight in the report are the comments on transit.

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The report states that transit costs have been increasing at double the rate of inflation, which impacts people living with lower incomes, who rely on public transit. Access is to transit is also not equal — two-thirds of people without employment live in areas of the city with “low and very low access” to transit.

What was made most evident by these findings is that while the city is thriving — Toronto’s population increased by more than 77,000 people last year — so too are its inequalities.

"The report confirms that the old ways aren’t working. New voices and new actors are needed at the table to fight inequality," Avery said. "We can use Toronto's Vital Signs report to ask our leaders how they will ensure Toronto's gains are not overwhelmed by growing pains and exclusions."