About the Report

About the Toronto Foundation

Established in 1981, Toronto Foundation is one of 191 Community Foundations in Canada. We pool philanthropic dollars and facilitate charitable donations for maximum community impact. Our individual, family and organizational funds number more than 500 and we administer more than $400 million in assets. Through the Vital Toronto Fund, we engage in city building, mobilizing people and resources to increase the quality of life in Toronto.


About the Report

The Foundation partners with many researchers to produce the Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report. The Report is compiled from current statistics and studies, identifying progress we should be proud of and challenges that need to be addressed. It is a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents. Citations at the end of each issue area section, and live web links throughout, will take you directly to the sources used in this year’s Report.

The Report aims to inspire civic engagement and provide focus for public debate in our communities and around the world. It is used by residents, businesses, community organizations, universities and colleges, and government departments. In addition, the Report is a model now being used by cities around the world.


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Your Guide for Discussion and Action

As you read through this Report, consider the Vital Questions posed throughout. We have lots to be proud of, but there are also things we need to think about in order to shift some troubling trends.


Ask yourself:

  • What issues do I care about?
  • What data surprises me?
  • How can I get involved to make a difference?



About the Community Knowledge Centre

At www.ckc.torontofoundation.ca you will find an online showcase of more than 260 organizations working on solutions to the issues identified in this Report. Through video and prose, it presents stories of innovations taking place in our city and provides you with an opportunity to get involved.


At the end of each issue area section in this Report, you will find lists and descriptions of groups that are addressing the trends and data reported through their innovative community-based programs. Live web links connect you to their profiles on the Community Knowledge Centre.


About Community Foundations

Community Foundations are independent public foundations that strengthen their communities by partnering with donors to build permanent endowments and other funds, which support community projects, and by providing leadership on issues of broad community concern.


Vital Signs is a national program led by community foundations and coordinated by Community Foundations of Canada that leverages local knowledge to measure the vitality of our communities and supports action towards improving our quality of life. Started by the Toronto Foundation in 2001, today 80 communities around the world use Vital Signs to mobilize the power of community knowledge for greater local impact.




Understanding this Report

  1. The following definitions are used frequently throughout the Report (also see the Glossary at the back of this document for a complete list of definitions).


  • “Toronto” or “the city” refers to the formal boundaries of the city of Toronto, consisting of the former municipalities of Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York and the Borough of East York. “The City of Toronto” or “City” refers to the municipal government. The “Province” refers to the Ontario provincial government.


  • The “Toronto Region” or “Region” refers to the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), the largest metropolitan area in Canada, stretching from Ajax and Pickering on the east, to Milton on the west and Tecumseth and Georgina on the north.


The Toronto Region is an area slightly smaller than the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and is comprised of the city of Toronto plus 23 other municipalities: Ajax, Aurora, Bradford-West Gwillimbury, Brampton, Caledon, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, Georgina Island, Halton Hills, King Township, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Mono Township, Newmarket, Tecumseth, Oakville, Orangeville, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Uxbridge, Whitchurch-Stouffville and Vaughan.


  • The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) refers to the entire area covered by the Region of Halton, Region of Peel, Region of York, Region of Durham and city of Toronto. The area is slightly larger than the Toronto CMA.


Census Metropolitan Area (Toronto Region) and the Greater Toronto Area


Source: City of Toronto, Toronto Economic Development and Culture. Prepared by Toronto Urban Planning and Development Services, Presentation Graphics 1997



2.  The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) refers to the GTA region and the City of Hamilton. It is increasingly becoming a dominant unit of planning in Southern Ontario, particularly with regard to transit.




The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)



3. The Report is divided into 13 chapters for ease of reference. However, each issue area is intimately connected to all the others. Readers will discover many examples, such as socio-economic indicators in the Health section illustrating the connection between poverty and health inequities, and employment and income data in the chapter on Leadership, Civic Engagement and Belonging pointing to linkages between the security of one’s employment, their income, and their likelihood to vote.


4. Throughout the Report, there are a number of Vital Questions raised. These questions are intended to stimulate your own questions, and act as a catalyst for reflection, conversation, and action.


5. Links to organizations directly cited are included in text. Citations are listed at the end of each indicator (which may contain several bulleted points).


6. This Report occasionally uses data from the Statistics Canada 2011 National Household Survey (NHS). The NHS excludes a portion of the 2006 (and earlier) census population, and data were collected in a voluntary survey, making the results vulnerable to non-response bias. As a result, NHS data cannot be compared reliably with those from earlier Census releases. Comparisons with previous census periods should be considered with caution.


7. We have included a précis at the start of each issue area. They list some of the key indicators we look to over a longer period of time to help us understand where Toronto is making progress and where there has been decline, along with summary comments that speak to why the data is important, and what some of the key trends and new findings are. More detail and other trends are outlined in the text that follows, along with indicators from relevant recent research and occasional reports.


8. To ensure clarity and accuracy of the data being presented, we have opted to use the same terminology used in the research and studies referenced. As a result, there may be instances throughout the Report where inconsistent terminology is used to describe concepts that are the same or that overlap (e.g. “visible minority” versus “racialized,” or “LGBTQ*” versus “LGBTTIQ”).


9. Ideas and Innovations that point the way forward for Toronto are identified with the following icon:

Ideas-and-Innovations10. Data, or ideas and innovations that come from outside Canada are included to help provide international context for interpreting Toronto’s experience. Throughout the Report, data or ideas and innovations that speak to an international context are identified with the following icon:global11. The Toronto’s Vital Signs Report includes data and studies that speak to anticipated projections based on past trends and future implications. These narratives allow us to make considerations for future actions and interventions. Those that incorporate future projections are signified by the following icon:projecting