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Six inequality questions you should be asking your candidates

This is an outstanding city.
But you don't just take.
You've got to build.

Fran Deacon

Wife of the late Fraser Deacon,
Founder of Toronto Foundation

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Six inequality questions you should be asking your candidates

 

Let’s face it – elections can be overwhelming. Information moves fast. Parties make big promises, and big claims. It can be tough for voters to sift through the high volume of information, and hone in on what truly matters to them.

Fortunately, voters in Monday’s federal election can turn to the Toronto’s Vital Signs report to inform their voting decisions, and keep their leaders accountable. With new data and more analysis than ever before, the report arms readers with the knowledge they need to advocate for better.

And sadly, Toronto’s inequality gap is widening at an alarming rate, which should worry all voters. As the report reveals, youth, newcomers, and racialized communities are experiencing significantly worse outcomes when compared with white, long-time residents across all ten issue areas examined by the report.

We’ve sifted through the report to narrow down the six most important questions voters can ask their candidates about how they plan to address growing inequality:

 

  • Income growth in Toronto has grown by 60% for white, older Canadian born residents since 1980 – but it has flatlined for young people, newcomers, and racialized populations. The lowest income groups in Toronto now have average debt four times their income (420%), and are going into debt just to cover the basics. What will your party do to narrow the income gap in our city, and make sure all Torontonians can afford the basics without having to go into debt?

 

  • Housing costs in Toronto have been growing 4x faster than income, and rent costs 2x faster over the last decade. What will your party do to make housing more affordable in our city?

 

  • Precarious work is fast becoming the norm in our city. Over the last decade, temporary jobs grew 5x faster than permanent jobs, self-employment grew 3x faster than permanent jobs, and part-time work grew 2x faster than full-time jobs. And we know it’s racialized populations and newcomers who disproportionately work in these more precarious jobs. What will your party do to address employment equity in our workforce?

 

  • Dramatic climate change impacts are already being felt in Toronto. In the last decade, property and casualty insurance payouts related to weather have averaged 4x the average of the previous three decades, with more than half of that increase coming from water damage due to flooding. How will your party address climate change, and prevent further impacts from being felt by the city’s most vulnerable people?

 

  • Toronto is one of the least happy cities in the country and has a very rapidly growing youth mental health crisis, with hospitalizations due to mental health doubling in the last decade. What kinds of investments is your party committed to making to help address the mental health epidemic we are all seeing and experiencing in our families and communities?
  • Toronto has extremely high transit usage, even as transit costs have been increasing at twice the rate of inflation, hitting those who are lower income and most reliant on public transit. What will your party do to help increase and improve public transit access in Toronto?

 

There are a variety of ways voters can find the answers to these questions:

  • Ask candidates in person by attending debates, town halls and rallies.
  • Find out from canvassers when they come to your door.
  • Use social media and email to engage with local candidates and federal party leaders.

By keeping leaders accountable and demanding action, Toronto voters can have a very real impact on inequality in this city, and across Canada.

And remember – election day is THIS MONDAY – October 21st. Happy voting!