racial divide toronto

The racial divide in Toronto has reached historic highs

Toronto has long taken great pride in its unparalleled levels of ethnic diversity, and with good reason.

Multiculturalism is one of our city's best known positive attributes and evidence of its influence can be seen almost everywhere, from the inclusive attitudes of residents to the unique smattering of highly diverse neighbourhoods across the region.

But we're not exactly living in the idyllic paradise portrayed by global media companies — far from it, if you take a look at who earns how much money and for what.

A striking new report on income inequality within the GTA, released on Monday by United Way Greater Toronto, confirms what many have already known to be true for decades: That a person's race, age, immigration status, gender and even postal code can all still serve as barriers to success.

"Young people, immigrants, racialized people, and women must work harder to achieve the income needed to thrive, or even just survive," reads the report, "and the situation is worse in the GTA than it is in the entire country."

Not only is it worse in the GTA than anywhere else, it's worse at this point in history than it ever has been before.

The 152-page-long report, entitled Rebalancing the Opportunity Equation, highlights three key findings from an analysis of more than 35 years of census data (between 1980 and 2015.)

One of those key findings is that "the racial divide in the GTA has reached a historic high" with a racialized person earning just 52.1 cents for every dollar a white person earns in Toronto.

"Our findings show that over time, the gap between racialized groups and white groups has grown as a result of increasing incomes for white groups, while those of racialized groups have stagnated, or even decreased," reads the report.

"The value of diversity and inclusion form an integral part of the prevailing narratives about the Toronto region. However, the growing inclusion of racialized groups in public discourse has not translated into commensurate benefits from the region's growing economic prosperity," it continues.

"Despite the increase in the size of the racialized population, income gains have gone almost exclusively to white groups."

Furthermore, the problem is growing worse.

"Relative to the rest of Canada, racialized groups across Peel, Toronto, and York are experiencing a worsening situation," reads the report.

"They face declining incomes over time and are increasingly stuck in the bottom of the income distribution. Gender gaps persist, and racialized women continue to experience higher rates of non-standard employment and lower average incomes."

United Way Greater Toronto has compiled 12 recommendations as part of its research, all of them aimed at taking action and amplifying the voices of those negatively impacted by these economic trends.

"We are at a critical juncture—the policies, practices, and programs that have made us a country and city-region celebrated for its prosperity and inclusion are not the same policies, practices, and programs that will get us to where we need to go now," it concludes.

"Our vision is for a GTA that truly welcomes and supports people to achieve success, no matter their background or circumstances. A socially cohesive region where everyone can participate, get ahead, and afford to live."

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