New Research Shows Toronto Highly Segregated Along Race and Class Lines

A closer look at the numbers reveals stark divides among Toronto neighborhoods.

2 minute read

October 10, 2018, 7:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


Toronto, Dundas St, Chinatown

The City of Toronto / Flickr

A new study of Canadian census data shows significant racial and income segregation throughout Toronto. The lowest-income neighborhoods, with average incomes less than $32,000, make up almost half of the city's census tracts, and 68 percent of residents in these neighborhoods are non-white. On the other hand, 23 percent of Toronto's census tracts include neighborhoods with average incomes of $102,000, and two-thirds of these residents are white.

These findings indicate that financial resources give people access to particular neighborhoods. But other issues might also be in play, writes Sandro Contenta:

Choice also partly explains the makeup of low-income neighbourhoods. Some members of ethnic groups prefer to live where their communities are most numerous, giving them easy access to the shops and cultural or religious services that facilitate integration or simply make life more enjoyable.

However, the study also found that half of residents in these neighborhoods have post-secondary degrees, and they say this relatively high percentage of educated residents with low incomes suggests discrimination is playing a role in the disparities. In addition, 57 percent of low-income neighborhoods are made up of immigrants as compared to 31 percent of high-income neighborhoods.

Researchers have pointed to institutional factors that have contributed to the demographic landscape of Toronto:

The polarized income trend dates back to the 1990s, caused by federal and provincial cuts in transfer payments and social assistance, along with tax cuts, rising housing costs and the disappearance of well-paid manufacturing jobs, [researcher David] Hulchanski says.

They argue that government policies are needed to reverse these segregation trends and avoid the sort of social and political conflict seen in European countries.

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