Festival of Community & Culture
The Toronto Community foundation unveiled its annual snapshot of the quality of life in Toronto, called the Toronto’s Vital Signs Report. The foundation compiles data of numerous current statistics and studies to provide a decent overview of the newest developments in the city. This year’s report is nicknamed “The World Needs Toronto to Succeed” and proposes several challenges the city has to face soon to avoid its possible future decline.
The most striking issues highlighted by the report usually reflect one particular worry: a growing gap between the rich and the poor. In the worst case scenario, the predictions include the possibility of a diminished quality of life for 60% of the GTA population by 2025.
The grim prognosis sketches a picture of disappearing middle-class neighbourhoods, which will turn into low-income residences. As Toronto is already suffering from low affordability of housing —especially for disadvantaged citizens — even medium-quality homes will become more and more difficult to buy. More than one million Torontonians live in sketchy areas these days, and the number will apparently grow. The issue is not only connected to the quality of a neighbourhood itself, but the report also shows that well-off areas have about four times better transit service. Consequently, people are forced to spend a higher proportion of their time travelling while they should rather be relaxing with their families.
Everyday Fight with Barriers
It should be further noted that unequal income isn’t the biggest problem. The most pressing concern is the fact that poverty means overall unequal opportunities. The data reveal that low-income citizens have to fight barriers everywhere; it’s much more challenging for them to get a decent education or job or to keep up good health. The data also identified groups that are most at risk: immigrants and youth workers. Employers aren’t very sympathetic toward these groups, and unemployment rates run too high among them. Although it’s never impossible to find a job, searching for a decent position in the field can be a distressing experience with questionable results.
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However, according to Rahul K. Bhardwaj, the foundation’s president and CEO, it would be foolish to pretend that our troubles cannot be solved: “Toronto is a special place and we are in a special position to build the city we all want — smarter, healthier, more inclusive, more creative, more prosperous. Collaboration, compassion and compromise are values that make us a magnet for the world. We need a vision for our city that sees us through for the long-term. And, the world needs us to succeed.”