Toronto's Vital Signs 2019

Toronto’s Vital Signs Report 2019

Every year, the Toronto Foundation releases its Toronto’s Vital Signs Report which they call their report card for the city. Read the Executive Summary.

The report is pulled together from a staggering 294 different studies and data points – so it’s a great guage of what’s going on in this city that we live in and we love. As small Toronto charity, it’s a key source of information for us when we think about the trends and issues affecting the quality of life for the children and families we serve.

Highlights from Toronto’s VITAL Signs Report 2019

  • While there has been a decrease in child poverty nationwide, this is juxtaposed against the increase in inequality in Toronto
  • Toronto has the most income inequality in the country, leading to bigger wealth disparities: net worth increased by $2,100 for the bottom 20% between 1999 and 2016 versus more than $600,000 for the top 20%.
  • In Toronto, the 1% tend to self-identify as middle class
  • That a combined family income of $300,000 puts you into the 1%
  • Over the last 35 years, racialized populations, newcomers, and young people have had no income growth, while the rest of the population has often had greater than 50% income growth.
  • Poverty rates have started to decline in the last several years, but poverty rates remain among the highest of any city in the country for most people, with particularly high poverty rates for certain demographics, including racialized populations, newcomers, and single parents.
  • Housing prices are skyrocketing: housing costs are growing four times faster than income, and rent costs are growing two times faster than income over the last decade.
  • Over the last 12 years, Toronto’s waitlist for social housing has increased by 68%, with no new units built in decades, a shelter system at near 100% capacity, and huge waitlists for transitional housing.
  • Official homelessness counts show a 69% increase in sheltered homeless people in Toronto in just five years.
  • Over the last decade, temporary jobs grew five times faster than permanent jobs, self-employment grew three times faster than permanent jobs, and part-time work grew two times faster than full-time jobs. Immigrants, racialized populations, and newcomers disproportionately work in these more precarious jobs.
  • Toronto has the highest child-care costs in the country, presenting huge barriers for parents to go back to work and contributing to high child poverty, particularly among newcomers.
  • Access to transit is not equal across the city: 2/3 of the unemployed live in parts of the city with low access to transit, making it harder for people to find jobs.
  • Toronto has a very rapidly growing youth mental health crisis, with hospitalizations due to mental health doubling in the last decade.
  • Low-income residents have much worse physical and mental health outcomes.
  • While high-school graduation rates continue to improve and are now at 86%, the lowest income groups are still three times more likely to drop out than the highest.
  • After decades of decreases in severe crimes, overall crime has risen for four straight years.
  • 29% of residents felt unsafe walking at night in low-income neighbourhoods vs. 11% in neighbourhoods with residents who earn more than $100,000.
  • Most charitable revenue (66%) goes to large institutions, such as universities and hospitals, which make up just 1% of charities.


  1. Mihaela Dinca-Panaitescu et al., “Rebalancing the Opportunity Equation” (Toronto, 2019),
  2. Statistics Canada., “Target Group Profile of the Low-Income Population (LIM-AT).”
  3. Statistics Canada, Toronto, CDR , Ontario and Ontario (table). Census Profile. 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue No. 98-316-X2016001.
  4. Guy Gellatly and Elizabeth Richards, “Indebtedness and Wealth Among Canadian Households” Economic I, No. 11-626-X No. 089 (2019),

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