New Report By Toronto Foundation Finds That Torontonians Are Isolated, Depressed And Lonely Than Before

Toronto Foundation is kickstarting a 150-day campaign to revive faith in the city's future as its 19th biennial Toronto's Vital Signs Report shows a shocking increase in isolation, depression and unaffordability.

"Raising the alarm bells is not enough," said Toronto Foundation president and CEO Sharon Avery. "Sitting back and waiting for something to change is just not an option. It's time to change Toronto's trajectory. We've got to make people believe in the city again."

#PowerOfUs (CNW Group/Toronto Foundation)

#PowerOfUs (CNW Group/Toronto Foundation)

 

The 2023 Toronto's Vital Signs Report "The Power of Us" outlines troubling patterns of social isolation, economic stress and declining mental health in Toronto, corresponding with a long-standing and persistent downward trend in civic engagement. The #PowerOfUs campaign encourages individuals and organizations to take one action over the next 150 days to help restore social connections across Toronto and recommit to our collective wellbeing.

This year Toronto Foundation has partnered with Volunteer Toronto to: help residents broaden their understanding of how to engage with each other and their city through a new online tool; connect people to volunteer opportunities and; provide up to $1,000 microgrants for civically minded initiatives.

"Your city needs you," Avery said of the campaign. "We want Torontonians to believe there are people who care about them, their businesses and their neighbourhoods. We want people to believe there are things to look forward to. Let's use these findings as a catalyst to re-engage with the city we all love and together shape the future we want."

More than 30 organizations including: The Bentway, CAMH, Downtown Yonge BIA, East Scarborough Storefront, Evergreen, Toronto Arts Council, United Way of Greater Toronto and more have hand raised as early believers in the #PowerOfUs campaign, committing to actions that will help reinvigorate feelings of civic pride and connection.

Among the findings of the 2023 Toronto's Vital Signs Report, "The Power of Us":

We're lonely and disconnected. Our mental health hasn't improved in two years and it's worse for youth

  • 37% of Torontonians (925,000) report feeling lonely at least three or four days in the last week making us amongst the loneliest Canadians
  • Loneliness among high school students has doubled, with 44% feeling frequently lonely
  • Mental health is just as dire now as it was earlier in the pandemic: almost 1 in 4 adult Torontonians report symptoms of a major depressive disorder, almost 1 in 5 report symptoms of moderate anxiety
  • The percentage of people with 6+ close friends declined by nearly 30 percentage points from 2013 to 2022

We're overwhelmed by unaffordability

  • 1/3 of Torontonians believe their household income is insufficient, up from 1 in 5 in 2018
  • 17% of people in the Toronto CMA are living in overcrowded conditions, including almost a third of newcomers (32%)

We're less engaged and less generous, leaving charities unable to fill gaps in support

  • Toronto's volunteer rate fell from 37% to 25% between 2018-2022 and the donation rate slipped from 75% to 63%, leading to a loss of 300,000 donors and 300,0000 volunteers
  • While 53% of Toronto nonprofits reported revenue growth in 2023, 90% experienced a rise in expenses
  • Almost 1/3 of charities tapped into reserves to maintain operations
  • Almost 75% of nonprofits reported increased service demands with 62% only partially able to meet increased service demands and 16% unable to meet it at all

The findings clearly show that people who continued to participate the most in community activities had better mental health, broader social networks, stronger sense of belonging, and were much more likely to donate and volunteer than those who did not participate.

The 2023 Vital Signs Report "The Power of Us" can be found at torontofoundation.ca/powerofus

About Toronto's Vital Signs Report
Since 2001 biennial Toronto's Vital Signs Reports capture the wellbeing of Torontonians across ten quality of life indicators using secondary research. We rely on disaggregated data to show the role of inequity in the findings. The insights of over 40 city leaders help inform our analysis and are featured throughout the report.

About Toronto Foundation
As the city's community foundation, we exist to create a more fair and just society where everyone can thrive. We pool philanthropic dollars and facilitate charitable donations for maximum community impact. Our individual, family and organizational funds number more than 900 and we administer more than $700 million in assets. Through strategic granting, thought leadership and convening, we engage in city building, mobilizing people and resources to increase the quality of life in Toronto. Visit www.torontofoundation.ca and follow @TorontoFdn

SOURCE Toronto Foundation

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