What are the Issues?
Click on the link below each issue to read the full Note.
Toronto has the largest Indigenous population in Ontario and the 4th largest in Canada. Indigenous peoples hold a unique legal and constitutional position in Canada. The City of Toronto has affirmed this unique position in its vision statement on Access, Equity and Diversity and by adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The City has further committed to take action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the spirit of reconciliation as requested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Reconciliation is about equality and healing through trust, respect and collaboration. For true healing to begin, Indigenous input is needed when making decisions about Indigenous communities’ well-being. A shift is required towards including First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, culture and traditions in education, employment, health, housing and other facets of life in Toronto.
Early Learning, Child Care and Middle Childhood Services
Demand for child care in Toronto exceeds the spaces available making it very difficult for families to access the care they need. Toronto also has the highest average child care fees in the country and recent studies show that both lower and middle income families feel a great burden because of the high costs. As of June 2018, there were 1,032 licensed child care centres in Toronto operating 73,176 spaces (all age groups), serving only 21 percent of Toronto’s children.
The City’s Children’s Services Division, operating under provincial legislation, directly operates 51 child care centres and provides fee subsidies.
Youth (15 to 29 years) contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of the city and require support to enable them to flourish and contribute their full potential. For example, youth aged 20 to 24 are among the most engaged in political activities within the community. While the majority of youth have the required supports to live meaningful lives, some experience difficulty accessing supports that can help youth redirect from or avoid challenging situations.
The number of seniors living in Toronto has grown dramatically since the first baby boomers turned 65 in 2011. For the first time, there are now more Torontonians aged 65 and older than children aged 15 and younger, a trend which is expected to continue.
While this growth in life expectancy and in the number of seniors living in Toronto is positive, it has significant policy, service and resource implications for the City. In particular, the way the City organizes its housing and services for seniors does not currently meet their needs, a problem which will be exacerbated over the next 10-15 years. With more than 40 City services for seniors delivered by 13 City Divisions, Agencies and Corporations these services need to be coordinated and made easier to access.
Newcomers to Toronto are some of the most vulnerable residents of the city, with unemployment and poverty rates higher than the Canadian-born population. Especially troubling is data showing that newcomers who have arrived within the last five years have higher levels of education but experience an unemployment rate double the rate of Canadian-born counterparts. Proper valuation of international experiences and credentials would provide increased opportunity for social and economic prosperity for these individuals and the city.
As the main destination for immigrants to Canada, Toronto also receives the highest numbers of arrivals in classes that have more complex needs, such as refugees and refugee/asylum claimants.
In 2016, Toronto welcomed 11,405 resettled refugees and protected persons, which included close to 7,000 Syrian refugees. In 2017 and 2018, there has been a substantial and sustained increase in arrivals of refugee/asylum claimants which has corresponded with increased arrivals crossing irregularly at the Quebec/United States border. These changes and their unpredictability have created significant pressures on the shelter system and other City services, often stretching demand for such services beyond their limits.
These recent increases in the number of refugee/asylum claimants have again highlighted the need for increased federal and provincial efforts at managing such arrivals, including strategies to coordinate and settle refugee/asylum claimants across Ontario and Canada, but also the need for the City to create capacity to deal with these fluctuations in a more systemic way.