Despite getting some of the big things right, Toronto faces unprecedented challenges, says new Toronto Community Foundation report

TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Toronto is getting some of the big things right, highlights this year's Toronto's Vital Signs Report, an annual Toronto Community Foundation publication. Yet, the Report warns, Toronto's high rankings for prosperity, competitiveness and livability are at risk from the effects of some alarming trend lines such as rising youth unemployment and income inequality.

"If you judged Toronto only by the heated headlines we saw this year, you would have a hard time finding the good news story. But in fact, there are several," said Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President & CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation. "Our Toronto's Vital Signs Report shows a Toronto with some impressive assets that make this city appealing to all. This is still a truly great city to live in."

"However, there are segments of the population - youth, newcomers, and seniors - that are the most vulnerable to slipping through the cracks that are forming in the foundation. The way forward requires a fundamental shift in thinking, towards system wide innovations, in order to address our growing challenges," said Bhardwaj.

The Toronto's Vital Signs Report will be launched today at The Canadian Club of Toronto. Bhardwaj will give the keynote address titled, 'Are we analog players in a digital world?', provoking discussion about issues Torontonians should consider in the lead up to the anticipated elections in 2014. The speech will take place at 1 p.m. Among the Report's key findings:

Toronto is still one of the best places to live in the world. As in 2012, Toronto ranked 4th on The Economist's Liveability Ranking of 140 global cities. The annual ranking measures liveability across: stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure.

And, we maintained impressive economic momentum through 2012. For the third straight year, the Toronto Region ranked first among Canada's largest 25 metropolitan areas on the Canadian Metropolitan Economic Activity Index. Economic diversity, robust population growth (2% year-over-year) and an active construction sector has kept the city in the top five for most of the last 7 years.

Employment in the downtown core grew by 14.2% between 2006 and 2011, and 8.7% across the Toronto Region. This compares to a decline of 3.3% in the downtown, and 10.9% growth in the Region over the previous five years.

But, youth face dismal job prospects. In 2012, the Toronto youth unemployment rate averaged 20.75%, and for recent immigrant youth in Canada less than 5 years, it was 29%.

More than 1 million Torontonians live in low-income neighbourhoods (20% or more below the city average) and the polarization of wealth and poverty is deepening. Parts of Toronto experienced an even more pronounced shift. In 1970, 96% of Scarborough neighbourhoods were middle-income. Today, they account for only 13.6%.

1 in 8 households in the Toronto Region (12.5%) experienced food insecurity in 2011. The growing problem of food insecurity - running out of food, compromising quality or quantity or even going days without meals - has complex causes, but is primarily rooted in lack of money to buy food.

Food insecurity remains a challenge as food bank usage in Toronto is still close to a million visits this past year. There is a particular challenge in Toronto's inner suburbs where usage increased 38% from 2008.

The Toronto Region still ranks as 'severely' unaffordable in a survey of 337 housing markets. A standard 2-storey house in the Toronto Region averaged $640,500 at the end of 2012, requiring a qualifying household income of over $130,000. 62% of a median household income would need to be spent on housing costs. 30% is considered affordable.

These changes are especially challenging for Toronto's population of seniors (65 +). This population is projected to grow by 1/3 - from 376,570 in 2011 (14.4% of the total population) to almost half a million (17% of the total population) by 2031.

The Toronto Community Foundation is one of 26 community foundations across Canada launching a Vital Signs report today. Vital Signs was first launched in Toronto in 2001.

Ways to get engaged with the Toronto's Vital Signs® Report 2013:

  • Download the Full Report, including a glossary of terms and list of sources at https://www.tcf.ca/torontos-vital-signs.
  • Learn about and participate in solutions to issues identified in the Toronto's Vital Signs Report on the Community Knowledge Centre, www.tcf.ca, an online showcase of more than 230 community organizations working to improve quality of life in Toronto

About the Toronto Community Foundation
Our mission is to connect philanthropy with community needs and opportunities all with a vision to make Toronto the best place to live, work, learn and grow. As an independent public foundation we work with donors to create endowments and invest in the city of Toronto through philanthropy and our city building work.

Our unique position enables us to be a catalyst for change. We facilitate dialogue on issues highlighted in the Report and mobilize hundreds of individual and family donors, a vast array of high-impact community organizations, and cross-sector leaders to tackle complex quality of life issues in creative and inspiring ways. We collaborate to develop and support innovative solutions through our grant programs and special initiatives.

About the Toronto's Vital Signs® Report
The Community Foundation partners with many researchers to produce the Toronto's Vital Signs Report. The Report identifies progress we should be proud of and challenges that need to be addressed. It is a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the well-being of Toronto and its residents.

SOURCE: Toronto Community Foundation

For further information:

Simone Dalton, Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Toronto Community Foundation
sdalton@tcf.ca
O: 416-921-2035 ext. 218
C: 416-809-5036

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