Toronto Vital Signs Report Indicates City is Fairing Not Too Bad
Last year I reported on the 2011 Toronto Vital Signs Report by the Toronto Community Foundation, an organization that “connects philanthropy with community needs and opportunities in order to make Toronto the best place to live, work, learn and grow”. The 2012 edition of this Toronto Vital Signs report was recently released and according to the introduction of the report Toronto fared “not too bad”. As one of the world’s most diverse cities and North America’s 5th most populous with close to 2.7 million people, the 2011 census of the population represented an overall growth of 4.5%. The report focused on key areas including overall demographic, health and wellness, public safety, economic health, employment, housing, sustainability, transportation, the environment, community, education, arts and culture and much more. It’s a very extensive report with many interesting statistics on our great city, but the following stood out most to me:
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- Health & Wellness – Despite 62.5% of the city’s population reporting being in good or excellent health, what is most worrisome is that 42.8% of adult Torontonians over the age of 18 reported being overweight or obese. Similarly, 46% of Canadian children spend less than 3 hours a week in physical activity. As obesity is linked to an increase of health issues, the strain that these statistics can put on the health care system is concerning.
- Safety – Overall Toronto’s crime rate has been the lowest in many years with a decrease of 5.6% in reported criminal offences in one year and a drop of 35% in the past five, a decline of 31% in violent crimes in over a decade and a decline of 22.2% in homicides over 2010. Although the numbers are reassuring that Toronto is a safe city to work and live in, almost half of Canadian parents are concerned about child predators and their children’s safety.
- Economy – The city’s economy has gained momentum and has been at its highest in 10 years. Housing was a key indicator in our city’s vitality as housing starts were up by 20%, while tourism represented $4.6 billion to the city’s economy in 2011. The food and beverage production sector in Toronto represents the largest in North America with employment rates expected to double from the current 60,000 in the next 10 years.
- Employment – It seems that although Toronto has weathered the uncertain economic times from the past few years with a growth of 0.9% in full-time employment and 3.3% in part-time employment, it has still not returned to levels last seen in 1989. Overall the city’s unemployment rate as of July 2012 was 9.6% an increase of 0.6% over the past year clearly indicating some instability despite the growth in employment. Unemployment in youth improved to 17.2% compared to the 18.36% in 2009, but is still 51% higher than 2001.
- Transportation – Transit has become a subject of great debate in recent years and Toronto placed 15th amongst 22 metropolitan areas. On average Toronto Region residents commuted 66 minutes round trip in 2011, an improvement over 2010 when Toronto placed last. To ensure that the city keeps up with the population growth, the report estimates an investment of almost $39 billion in the next four years to meet the demand.
The Toronto Vital Signs report is very interesting to review regardless if you live within the city limits or not as it examines so many aspects that deal directly with a citizen’s quality of life in a major, growing city. This information can be applied to other cities and there are so many more details beyond what I covered in this post that complete the picture of a world class city that is multicultural, vibrant and has a lot to offer.
Feel free to read through some other great Toronto accomplishments that we have previously featured which included posts on its ranking as the 9th Most Livable City, the 12th Most Competitive in the World, the 8th Best City to Live in the World, the 9th Greenest City in North America and the 2nd in the Global City of Opportunity Study.
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