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Pan Am Games a hit, but Toronto missing the mark in other areas: Vital Signs Report

Last Updated Oct 6, 2015 at 7:36 pm EDT

Houses are unaffordable, traffic’s a nightmare, more than half of us are overweight, seniors are lonely and young people can’t find jobs.

But the Pan Am Games were a hit.

Those are some of the key findings from the 14th annual Vital Signs Report for Toronto.

The Toronto Foundation’s report gave the Big Smoke big marks for successfully hosting the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, calling them a “a civic ‘aha!’ moment when we realized what can happen when we work together toward a common goal.”

“Events like the Games are a huge tourism draw too,” the report noted. “The region drew the highest-ever number of overnight visitors in 2014.”

The report also tips its hat to Toronto for its green spaces, robust high-rise construction, booming film industry and the profitable Pride Festival.

That’s the good news. The bad news took up a bit more space.

On the job market, full-time work seems to be evaporating at a frightening pace. The report found that “a whopping 44.3 per cent of us no longer rely on the ‘standard employment relationship,’ meaning full-time, permanent work with benefits. And these numbers are likely to go up.”

Youth unemployment was up almost 22 per cent in 2014 and even more disturbingly, youth are the fastest growing homeless segment in Canada.

Toronto's Vital Signs

No surprise here — traffic woes continue to plague the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area, exacerbated by the fact that only 29 per cent of the labour force uses transit.

Our waistlines are also expanding, with 50.7 per cent in the overweight or obese range.

Mental health doesn’t fare much better, with 262 confirmed suicides in the city in 2014. To put that in perspective, that’s four times the number auto accident deaths.

“The issues we’ve identified this year are not new; they’re chronic,” said Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President & CEO of Toronto Foundation. “They’re also interconnected. Ignoring them will have implications for all of us as well as on our global standing.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the report only served to embolden his mandate.

“I welcome today’s Vital Signs report, which reinforces my focus as Mayor,” he said.

“Since taking office almost a year ago, I’ve been working to address our city’s traffic and transportation issues, to address the challenges related to affordable housing and to make sure this city works for everyone.”