As Canada’s largest city, Toronto has enormous promise and possibility—and enormous challenges. Torontonians do not need “Toronto the Good” or “Toronto the Good Enough.” What we need from our leaders is a vision for Toronto the Bold: a city that builds a better future for every Torontonian. A city that leads rather than follows and takes its role in health and equity seriously.
The City of Toronto recently released its 2023 Population Health Profile. The key findings reveal the impacts of increasing unaffordability, an aging and increasingly diverse population, worsening mental health, and the growing health risk of climate change.
With Toronto in a mayoral by-election, these issues should be top of mind for voters. Mayoral candidates have the opportunity to present a vision for the future of Toronto. One that centres on their responsibility for creating an environment that allows all Torontonians to thrive and one where they make progress on key issues linked to wellness such as poverty, housing, transit, and mental health.
Ensuring that progress is equitable for Indigenous, Black, racialized, 2SLGBTQ+, and low income groups should be fundamental. New actions and implementation of existing strategies should be aligned with the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan (2022-2032). Mayoral candidates should also commit to ensuring that all City programs, strategies, and policies use tools such as the Health Equity Impact Assessment to ensure that they decrease disparities between groups.
Over the course of this byelection, Wellesley Institute will publish a series focusing on what Torontonians should expect from their mayoral candidates and, more importantly, from their city. This will include looking at how our city can take action and make a meaningful difference on issues including housing, public transportation, well-being, and ensuring everyone in Toronto has what they need to Thrive—to live a healthy, meaningful life.
Toronto must not accept the status quo. It should not cast blame on other levels of government. It can step up to solve problems itself. It can and should take bold, meaningful, and measurable steps towards improving the health and lives of every resident.
We look forward to seeing competing visions that recognize that change is needed, responsibility lies with our leaders, and investments in those who need it most will pay enormous dividends for all of us. Our city government needs to see itself as being there for every Torontonian, and dedicated towards building a city that builds resilience and strength by helping those who need it most.
We can build a city that is stronger, more resilient, and that we can be proud of.