Young and racialized people in Toronto haven’t seen incomes grow in the past 30 years

By: Lisa Coxon on October 7, 2019

Racialized populations in Toronto have seen no inflation-adjusted growth in their incomes in the last 30 years, according to a report released today by Toronto Foundation.

The same holds true for newcomers and young people, according to the report — Toronto’s Vital Signs — which reveals the city’s worsening inequalities and highlights 10 problem areas, including Income and Wealth, Housing, Work, and Getting Around.

While racialized populations, newcomers, and young people have seen their income stagnate over the last three decades, older, Canadian-born, white residents have enjoyed as much as 60% growth in income. 

The average income for a racialized person in Toronto in 2015 was $39,200 and the average income for a white person in the city in 2015 was $75,200 (in 2015 dollars).

"Despite our self-image, Toronto does not work for all,” said Sharon Avery, president and CEO of Toronto Foundation, in a news release. 

“In fact, for a growing majority, life in the city poses a serious struggle, and the trend lines suggest things will get worse before they get better... the evidence is clear: inequality is the new normal.”

Those lower-income families are also staring down a staggering amount of debt: families earning in the bottom 20% had debt levels of 420% as a percentage of their income, not including the cost of transit, housing, and basic needs. 

Those in the bottom 20% have had their net worth grow by only $2,100.

Those in the top 20%, on the other hand, have seen their net worth increase by an average of more than $600,000 from 1999 to 2016. 

The report also revealed that while Toronto is routinely listed as one of the best places to live, its housing costs have grown four times faster than income. And rent has grown two times faster than income over the last 10 years.

Over the past 12 years, the wait list for social housing has grown by 68%.

“The report confirms that the old ways aren't working. New voices and new actors are needed at the table to fight inequality,” said Avery. 

“Ahead of the upcoming election, we can use Toronto's Vital Signs report to ask our leaders how they will ensure Toronto's gains are not overwhelmed by growing pains and exclusions. At Toronto Foundation, we believe philanthropy is everybody. We want to build a culture of reciprocity in this city.”