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people rollerblading The Toronto region is a place of many great things: beauty, diversity, creativity and prosperity. But increasing poverty, crumbling infrastructure and declining tourism are some of many signs that we cannot afford to be complacent. As the Toronto region grows and become more complex we face new challenges and opportunities: meeting our transportation needs, integrating new immigrants, developing our waterfront, etc. This area of the website allows visitors to learn more about a variety of issues facing our city. It provides links to reports and policy documents published by a variety of sources and also to related news articles.

Affordable Housing - Over 260,000 households in the GTA spend more than a third of their income on housing and in Toronto alone over 30,000 individuals pass through the emergency shelter system each year. Families for whom market rents in Toronto are unaffordable often struggle to cope with other fixed costs such as groceries, winter clothing and electricity bills.

Arts and Culture - The arts are central to a healthy and vibrant community. They educate, inform and reflect who and what we are as a community. They are part of the very fabric that binds us together. They are also a key employment sector in the region with over 190,000 culture jobs in Toronto and their strength will be important as Toronto positions itself as a centre to attract business and knowledge workers in the coming years.

Community Services - Unlike most large American city regions, the GTA never experienced the deep segregation of rich and poor neighbourhoods. Disturbing signs are emerging that Toronto is now seeing deepening concentrations of poverty: media incomes in Toronto's 12 poorest neighbourhoods declined by a full 16 percent in the 1990s. In contrast, the 12 wealthiest neighbourhoods saw their median income rise by 10 per cent.

Early Childhood Development - Because most of the women in our region work outside the home, over 300,000 children under-twelve from all socio-economic backgrounds require some type of childcare. But available licensed childcare spaces satisfy just over 20 per cent of the demand. And the situation is worse for subsidized childcare: an estimated 20,000 children are currently on GTA waiting lists.

Economic Integration of Immigrants - Every year, the Toronto region welcomes half of all immigrants who arrive in Canada. We are home to a higher proportion of immigrants than any other city, surpassing Miami, Sydney, Los Angeles and New York. Nearly 44 per cent of the GTA's population and 47 per cent of the City of Toronto is foreign-born.

Income Security - Most of Canada's income security programs date back to the 1960s, putting them out-of-step with current realities. Lack of co-ordination between programs and levels of government has resulted in a web of rules, eligibility restrictions and disincentives that can actually punish adults as entry-level employment takes them off of social assistance.

New Fiscal Deal for Cities - Regional municipalities face escalating costs but have limited abilities to raise revenues. This is forcing tough choices on the city-region - choices between building roads or paying the police, supporting public health programs or digging sewers, reducing homelessness or supporting the arts.

Post Secondary Education - Ontario's colleges currently deliver training to 35,000 more full-time students with $79 million less than they had 10 years ago. Ontario's universities are not doing any better. Ontario has reduced university funding to the lowest per student level in Canada. Tuition costs have rapidly risen an average of 10 per cent per year over the past decade, imposing significant hardship on Ontario's students and their families.

Public Education - Our local public schools have traditionally played a central role in the life of our neighbourhoods, offering their communities essential activities to support early learning and parenting and an array of extracurricular activities - both educational and recreational - as well as essential outreach and support for children and families in trouble.

Regional Transportation and Planning - Growing and maintaining vibrant and prosperous city regions doesn't just happen. Successful regional planning means making taking steps such as identifying urban centres where population growth should and should not occur, solidifying transportation linkages, protecting and managing green space and investing in infrastructure such as roads and information technology.

Research and Development - While other metropolitan areas have been rapidly mobilizing to foster greater innovation, investing significant resources to build their R&D capacity, and using these and other incentives to attract international research driven companies, the Toronto region has largely been a passive bystander.

The Waterfront - Toronto's waterfront has the potential to rival that of any other city in the world. There has been much talk about revitalizing the waterfront since the Prime Minister, Premier of Ontario, and the Mayor publicly unveiled a new vision for Toronto's waterfront in 1999. But there has been little action to date.

Tourism - Tourism is a growth industry in North America, but unfortunately our industry has slipped significantly in the past six years, even before the SARS outbreak. Despite the lower Canadian dollar, Toronto has been losing tourism market share to other major North American destinations.


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