toronto vital signs 2019

Toronto is one of the least happy cities in Canada

The City of Toronto is crushing it right now, in many respects: Our population is booming, our economy is growing, and unemployment is at the lowest rate we've seen in nearly 30 years.

On top of that, Torontonians are generally in better physical health than other Canadians, with higher life expectancies and lower death rates than in any other major city across the entire country.

And yet, despite our impressive health and business stats, Toronto remains one of the least happy cities in Canada.

These are just some of the many findings from the Toronto Foundation's 17th annual Toronto's Vital Signs report, released this week.

Along with research and analysis in such areas as housing, education, safety and culture, a comprehensive "Health and Wellness" category within the 144-page-long report shows some troubling trends.

"Despite strong physical health, Toronto is by several measures the least happy city in the country, with our young people the least happy of all," reads the report.

"Emergency room visits for mental health are increasing extremely rapidly among young adults, as are hospitalizations for eating disorders."

Opioid deaths and alcohol poisonings are also "increasing rapidly" within the city, according to the report's authors, with low-income groups affected the most.

"According to a recent Toronto Public Health report, those with lower incomes had worse outcomes in 20 of the 34 indicators they examined," reads the report.

"For example, men in the lowest income group were 50 per cent more likely to die before age 75 than men in the highest income group."

Low income residents, young people between the ages of 18 to 29, and people who don't own their homes were found in another report to generally have "low life-satisfaction," with rates of happiness "much lower in the city of Toronto versus the rest of the GTA."

The Vital Signs report suggests that, as the gap between rich and poor continues to grow in Toronto, these problems will intensify.

"Despite our self-image, Toronto does not work for all. 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," said Toronto Foundation CEO Sharon Avery of the report on Monday.

"For those who think that things are no tougher today, Toronto's Vital Signs is a wake-up call. We've compiled more data than ever before and the evidence is clear: inequality is the new normal."

So too, it seems, is a pervasive sense of unhappiness.

Lead photo by

Mike Geiger


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