“Loneliness in Toronto: A Growing Concern
A recent report from the Toronto Foundation has shed light on the growing issue of loneliness in Toronto, revealing that nearly four out of 10 residents experience feelings of isolation on a regular basis. Titled ‘The Power of Us,’ the foundation’s 2023 Vital Signs report brought attention to the alarming statistic that 37% of Toronto respondents reported feeling lonely at least three days a week, making it one of the loneliest cities in Canada.
Loneliness Across Canada
The report compared Toronto’s loneliness statistics with other major Canadian cities, revealing that Toronto surpassed all others in terms of the frequency of loneliness. Vancouver reported a loneliness rate of 28%, while Montreal had the lowest rate at 17%. Even other regions, such as the Maritimes and the Calgary-Edmonton area, reported concerning levels of loneliness, indicating that this is a widespread issue affecting many Canadians.
The Impact of Loneliness
According to the report, loneliness is linked to a range of issues, including increased worrying about work, severe depression, and discrimination. Many Torontonians also reported having fewer friendships compared to pre-pandemic levels, signifying a troubling decline in social connections. This decline was confirmed by survey data, which showed a drop from 55% to 44% in the number of respondents reporting having many or very many friends.
Causes of Loneliness
Sharon Avery, CEO of the Toronto Foundation, highlighted feeling disconnected from the community as a major cause of loneliness. She stressed the importance of having trusting relationships and a sense of belonging, stating, “The difference between being alone and being lonely is that you can actually be lonely with people.” This sentiment echoes the findings of the report, which indicate that many Torontonians feel a sense of not belonging and lack the necessary social connections to combat their loneliness.
Work-Related Stress and Affordability
The report also pointed to work-related stress and housing affordability as significant factors contributing to the mental health challenges faced by Torontonians. Over 50% of respondents expressed concerns about job stability, while 22% admitted to feeling burnt out most or all of the time. On the housing front, the report highlighted the exorbitant cost of living in Toronto, noting that the hourly minimum wage would need to be over $30 for a single minimum wage worker to afford an average one-bedroom apartment.
Addressing Loneliness: A Call to Action
The findings of this report raise important questions about the state of social connections and mental well-being in Toronto. It’s clear that loneliness is a complex issue with deep-seated roots in various societal factors, from community disconnection to economic challenges. As we consider these findings, it’s crucial to approach the issue with empathy and a willingness to bridge the gap between those who feel lonely and the support they need. Ultimately, addressing loneliness in Toronto requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses not only individual mental health but also the broader societal issues that contribute to feelings of isolation.”