Toronto tops in Ontario for work stress, report says

Toronto has the highest work stress of any region in Ontario, says a new report that looks at community wellbeing in the province.

Ontario Trillium Foundation report says Toronto residents report highest levels of time pressure

A new report by the Ontario Trillium Foundation says Toronto residents have the highest work stress compared to people who live in other areas of the province. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Toronto has the highest rates work stress of any region in Ontario, says a new report that looks at community wellbeing of the province.

The report, "A Profile of Wellbeing in Ontario," says Toronto has "serious challenges" when compared to the north, west, east and central regions of Ontario.

Overall, a majority of residents (81.0%) report being satisfied with their lives — yet, this is the lowest level by far in the province.- Ontario Trillium Foundation report

There is "much to celebrate" about living in Toronto, but several factors detract from quality of life in the city, says the report, which was released Tuesday by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, a provincial government agency.

"Despite the highest percentages of employees with regular weekday work hours and greater flexibility in those work hours, Torontonians not only report the highest levels of time pressure, they participate less so than any other residents of Ontario in social leisure activities, monthly physical activity, and take shorter vacations," the report says.

Nearly 20 per cent of Toronto residents are struggling with low incomes, while 35 per cent of households are dealing with high housing costs and 12 per cent are grappling with high food costs, the report says.

High housing costs a factor

"People in Toronto have the lowest after-tax median incomes of anywhere in the province as well as one of the highest levels of unemployment. Not surprisingly, then, the region has the highest percentage of people in the province in low income and facing food insecurity," the report says.

"Further, more Toronto residents are paying above 30 per cent of their income on housing than anywhere else in the province. Even though Toronto has a high number of people in the upper-most income categories, the city overall is quite economically insecure, which is a reflection of the breadth of wealth distribution in the city."

The report uses what it calls the Canadian index of wellbeing to assess five regions of Ontario in terms of health, living standards, community vitality, environment, leisure and culture, education, time use and democratic engagement.

It notes that Toronto has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the province, the youngest population, the fewest married people, the greatest number of people living on their own, the highest percentage of renters and is "by far" the most diverse ethnically.

Some 81 per cent of Torontonians happy with their lives

As for the other measures of wellbeing, the report says about three-quarters of Toronto residents feel safe in their communities, but that feeling is the lowest in the province, even though Toronto has one of lowest reported severe crime rates.

The report says more than one in 10 people in Toronto report experiencing discrimination, which is one of the highest levels in Ontario. 

It also says the percentage of people who volunteer generally and for recreational and cultural organizations is the lowest in the province, although people in Toronto do volunteer for political or advocacy organizations.

On the plus side, Toronto residents report the highest participation rate in arts and cultural activities and in waste reduction through the Blue Box program.

And it says the city has the highest percentage of adults with university degrees and who visit libraries regularly. But it says there are fewer programs and events available to children by libraries in Toronto on a per capita basis than any other region.

The report says Toronto residents do feel satisfied with their lives, despite these challenges, but the level of satisfaction is not the same as in elsewhere in the province.

"Toronto's residents report levels of overall health, mental health, and health or activity-related limitations to their day-to-day living that are quite similar to the province as a whole. Overall, a majority of residents (81.0%) report being satisfied with their lives — yet, this is the lowest level by far in the province," it reads.

The foundation said the report was done to ensure it makes granting decisions based on evidence and to help direct its resources to where they are needed most.