Four key issues Toronto voters want the next Ontario government to fix
Four key issues Toronto voters want the next Ontario government to fix
Torontonians have less than two weeks until they cast their ballot in the upcoming provincial election but what exactly are the top priorities for residents?
Some would say housing is the most significant item on the agenda as housing and rent prices surge and more supply is heavily in demand.
Others would argue that the health-care system needs the government’s full attention as workers in this field are overwhelmed two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a letter to the party leaders of the Progressive Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Greens, stating what he thinks the city’s main priorities are, which include housing, economic recovery, community safety, transit expansion, and mental health.
"Ongoing support from the Province, in partnership with the federal government, is critical to Toronto's continuing success. I am confident that Toronto will continue to be the driving engine of Ontario's economy and our economic recovery,” Tory said in the statement on May 12.
CP24.com took a closer look at some of the top priorities that are on Torontonians’ minds, speaking with public figures and advocates about what action provincial parties need to take to address them.
Deputy Mayor and Ward 9 Councillor Ana Bailão tells CP24 that housing is one of the most, if not the most, pressing issue facing Torontonians right now, specifically when it comes to supportive housing, affordable housing and the affordability of homes.
“I think people are feeling the crunch of the cost of living increasing and one of those costs has been definitely housing, people are finding harder and harder to pay their rent and they're finding it harder and harder to even think about the possibility of buying a home,” she said.
The average selling price of a home in the Greater Toronto Area was $1,254,436 in April, up by 15 per cent compared to April 2021. Meanwhile, the average monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment reached $2,145 in the first quarter of 2022, a 17.8 per cent year-over-year increase.
- Download our app to get local alerts to your device
- Get the latest local updates right to your inbox
Bailão says if parties don’t commit to thoroughly addressing these issues they will be “jeopardizing the economic and social prosperity of this province.”
Toronto has a 10-year housing action plan which aims to create 40,000 affordable housing units by 2030, along with providing operating funding for supportive housing.
A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a west-end Toronto property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
To date, Tory says the city has committed $7.1 billion to the strategy and requires an additional commitment of $7 billion from the province by 2030.
“We have a commitment to have 1,800 units a year and we've been able to produce a lot of units but it is imperative that we get the operating funds from the province. So just before the last day, before we entered the campaign, the provincial government committed to the operating funds for this year, but this needs to be continuing support,” Bailão said.
While housing is a key topic on all of the major provincial parties’ platforms, Bailão says they’re lacking in their commitment for supportive housing for vulnerable residents.
“I think that the support and the funding on the deeper affordable housing needs a bit more attention. We've heard a lot of actions and issues being talked about to deal with the market of affordability. I would like to see a little bit more focus and commitment as well on the supportive housing.”
As Torontonians continue to face housing woes, transit is another huge issue on the mind of many voters.
TTC service levels and affordability is an ongoing concern, which is especially prevalent since the transit agency has taken a massive blow to its revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Before the pandemic the TTC relied mostly on transit-user fares to fund the cost of the operating budget, like running the buses, running the system. And we've never thought that was fair, but the pandemic really showed how unreliable and how broken that transit funding model is because there's been fewer riders taking transit during the pandemic, the TTC has faced huge budget shortfalls and we're not out of the woods yet,” TTCriders Executive Director Shelagh Pizey-Allen told CP24.
Pizey-Allen says provincial parties need to commit to providing stable operations funding for transit to improve service, lower fares and attract more riders.
As residents cope with TTC challenges, issues and delays with transit construction remain a constant battle as well.
Construction is ongoing on the Eglinton Crosstown line and the Scarborough RT will be decommissioned next year, causing residents to rely on buses in the area until construction is complete on the Line 2 subway extension in approximately 2030.
In March, the Ontario government made transit free for many GTHA customers connecting to and from GO Transit on a number of municipal transit systems, except in Toronto.
Pizey-Allen says a flat fare should also apply to TTC riders, specifically Scarborough commuters who will need more transit resources next year.
“That's something that the current government has announced for a number of municipalities outside of Toronto, but not for TTC and that would unlock access to all of the GO train stations in Scarborough,” she said.
It’s no surprise that healthcare is a key item of concern for many as the city’s healthcare system tries to recover from the blow it took during the height of the pandemic.
In his letters to party leaders, Mayor Tory called on them to commit to creating a more robust mental health-care system to address homelessness, substance use and the rise in opioid-related deaths.
A worker from Sanctuary, a christian charitable organization, tends to homeless people in their tents during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Toronto branch Michael Anhorn says parties are acknowledging that more mental health supports are needed and a commitment for more funding is necessary.
“We, I think, are in a crisis in the mental health and addiction sector and part of that is because we don't spend a fair amount of our healthcare budget on mental health and addictions. So in the UK, they spend about 13 per cent of their health-care budget on mental health and addictions. In Ontario, we spend about 5 per cent of our health-care budget on mental health and addictions,” Anhorn told CP24.
“Even if the size of the healthcare budget doesn't change, if we could get our fair share we could make transformative changes to the system,” he added.
Those changes include more income and structured activities for patients combined with the care of a psychiatrist, a pay raise for mental health support staff, collecting and reporting relevant data and preventative work to help people before they develop a diagnosable mental illness.
“Right now we're really struggling to respond to the most ill people and we're not able to do that preventative work of preventing serious illness. I think we'd be able to do that if we got the funding to be equitable for mental health and addictions,” Anhorn said.
After being forced to close at various points over the past two years, small businesses have suffered greatly throughout the pandemic and are surely hoping for the next government to support their recovery.
“We simply are looking to the government, especially to this election, to make some commitments to continue to support small business. You know, they're the biggest employers in the country, they're the engine that drives the local economies,” John Kiru, executive director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, told CP24.
Heading into the election, Kiru says small businesses have a plethora of concerns that they want addressed, including property tax reform, access to affordable internet, a focus on tourism and more support for those experiencing homelessness.
“People are intimidated, unfortunately. When they walk the street and there are panhandlers, homeless individuals, etcetera. It's a challenge and as businesses start their recovery, in terms of activations and trying to engage people to come into town, as long as we have this sort of issue…it's something that needs to be addressed.”
FILE - A closed store front boutique business called Francis Watson pleads for help displaying a sign in Toronto on Thursday, April 16, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Kiru says a pandemic preparedness plan is also essential to avoid lengthy business shutdowns during future public health crisis’.
“We really do need a playbook that will indicate at what point certain things will happen,” Kiru told CP24.
“There's many businesses that are still open today because of some of the support programs that were out there. Others felt that they didn't get the support. And hence, we were seeing some of that fallout in terms of the vacancies, etcetera,” he added.
TORONTO AT A GLANCE
Population – 2,731,571
What happened in 2018 – The Liberals went into the last election holding a majority but faced a crushing defeat when the PCs won 76 seats and the Liberals won only seven.
Race to watch: Eglinton-Lawrence - PC Robin Martin took this longtime Liberal riding from Mike Colle by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2018. Prior to 2018, Colle had won five consecutive elections in the midtown Toronto riding. Community advocate Arlena Hebert will try to win the seat back for the Liberals this time around.
High profile candidates – Two Toronto councillors will be vying for a seat at Queen’s Park. Former Toronto councillor Krystyn Wong-Tam left council earlier this month to run as an NDP candidate for Toronto Centre. Michael Ford, nephew of Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford, is also running and seeking a win in York South-Weston. Ford is donating his Toronto City Council salary to local community-based organizations while he campaigns but is not taking a leave of absence.
Toronto Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Newly disqualified Conservative Party leadership candidate Patrick Brown is alleging political corruption for his ousting from the race over allegations his campaign broke election financing rules.
Air Canada and Toronto's Pearson airport again claimed the top spots for flight delays on Tuesday, marking at least four days in a row where the country's biggest airline has placed No. 1 of any large carrier worldwide.
Video has emerged showing a worker dangling in the air above a Toronto construction site after accidently getting entangled in a tagline attached to a crane.
As gas prices slightly trend down this week after some of the highest national averages seen in recent months, some Canadians may be thinking twice before planning their usual summer road trip plans. CTVNews.ca looks at how drivers can save at the pumps while travelling.
Prices have been easing slightly recently, but affording a mortgage is still a very difficult task for many Canadians. How much of a mortgage can you afford? Contributor Christopher Liew breaks it down in an exclusive column for CTVNews.ca.
Canada's immigration department is restarting all Express Entry draws for immigration applications Wednesday, after pausing the program 18 months ago during the pandemic.
A new study by climate scientists suggests some 'hot spot regions' around the world contain ecosystems that are at-risk due to water availability.
Air Canada said on Wednesday it will not allow animals in the baggage hold until Sept. 12 due to 'longer than usual' delays at airports, as carriers and airports wrestle with complaints over lost luggage and long lines.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress wants Canada to up the pressure on Vladimir Putin's regime and lead a global charge to get Russia expelled from the G20.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M.
WATCH LIVE @ 9 A.M. | With another COVID climb, Quebec health minister calls news conference for Thursday morning
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise in Quebec, public health officials have called a news conference for Thursday morning.
A 22-year-old Chambly woman diagnosed with cancer could be the first Canadian to take part in an experimental treatment in Texas after exhausting her options in her home country.
Two young emergency room doctors, raised and trained in Montreal, are leaving their jobs after only two years to move back to Toronto – and they say the Quebec health-care model and Bill 96 are to blame.
The victim of a fatal head on collision earlier this week in Blandford-Blenheim has been identified as a 41-year-old man from Plattsville.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for London’s newest Stanley Cup champion Nazem Kadri.
Provincial police have identified the victim of a deadly motorcycle collision that occurred earlier this week.
Break-ins targeting restaurants, salons, dress shops and cannabis stores have been reported in Kitchener, Waterloo and Woolwich.
The average sale price now sits at $791,674, down 24 per cent from February when it topped $1 million.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service is searching for a baton misplaced by an officer late last week.
Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger has reversed his stance on the Kingsway Entertainment District and is now opposed to the project after the latest estimates put the cost at almost $215 million.
Former Sudbury Mayor Maurice Lamoureux died Tuesday after a battle with cancer.
The cost of filling up your gas tank will be a lot less painful on Thursday throughout most of Ontario.
Ottawa police are on the scene of a shooting that injured one person in the city's west end.
An Ottawa senior citizen says he lost his life savings after investing with a real estate development firm that has been charged with fraud.
Brown campaign accuses Conservative party of acting in favour of Poilievre after disqualification from leadership race
Patrick Brown has been disqualified from the federal Conservative leadership race, after ballots have already begun to be mailed out, and his campaign is fighting back against what it calls anonymous allegations.
'Is your urgency an emergency?': Windsor-Essex hospital officials appeal to public to reduce hospital and EMS wait times
With the hospital system in Windsor-Essex continuing to operate under tremendous pressure, healthcare leaders are asking residents to reserve calling 911 for emergency situations only, and to seek alternate care for non-medical emergencies.
A Windsor-Essex pharmacist says expanding eligibility of COVID-19 boosters to allow adults to get a fourth dose if they wish could help avoid a surge of vaccine seekers ahead of a possible fall wave.
Windsor police have charged a 50-year-old man with attempted murder for allegedly shooting his roommate.
Police warn anyone selling items using social media to be cautious after a vehicle theft Wednesday morning in Barrie.
Police in Barrie reunited a toddler with her mother after she was spotted wandering outside Wednesday morning.
Provincial police say a workplace incident in Kawartha Lakes sent one woman to the hospital with serious injuries.
Families of victims of the Nova Scotia mass shooting are considering whether to continue participating in the public inquiry into the tragedy because key witnesses are being shielded from cross-examination.
An RCMP officer has been charged following an investigation by Quebec's police watchdog into a violent arrest in Campbellton, N.B., last summer.
The price of gasoline and diesel is set to change overnight Wednesday in Nova Scotia.
Calgary drivers might be asking why the price of gasoline is more expensive in their energy rich province where oil is refined and extracted than in Ontario, but one retail expert claims to have the answer.
The Calgary Flames will face off against the Colorado Avalanche in their 2022-23 season home opener this fall.
Calgary Transit officials say a pilot project to let riders sing on a modified city bus is more than just a one hit wonder.
There is a chance that severe thunderstorms could sweep across southern Manitoba.
Road access has been restored in Whiteshell Provincial Park after spring flooding wreaked havoc, but the province says delays are still expected in the park.
Weeks after a terrifying machete attack in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, authorities have yet to identify the person responsible – but new surveillance video is offering a glimpse of a suspect.
More black bears were killed by conservation officers in the Prince George area than any other community in British Columbia, according to 2021 statistics compiled by an animal rights group.
Someone in British Columbia could be sitting on a lottery ticket worth a whopping $15 million – but there's only a few weeks left to claim the jackpot.
Drayton Valley is the second community in Alberta to set up small pod-style shelters that can be accessed overnight by anyone needing a place to stay.
The first six games of the season are at home, including a Battle of Alberta on Saturday, Oct. 15.
An Edmonton Police Service officer has been charged with assault after an off-duty incident earlier this year.