A new report from our Martin Prosperity Institute team charts the geography of class in Toronto. The map below shows the deep underlying economic – class - divisions of the city and can also help us understand the current polarized mayor’s race.
The map shows the concentration of three broad classes of work across the city’s census tracts. The kind of work people do is the hallmark of social-economic class and the map shows a city where the dominant classes occupy, literally, two different social, economic, and geographic spaces. This segmented pattern mirrors the same trend identified by earlier research on the worsening residential segmentation of the city highlighted by my University of Toronto colleague David Hulchanski.
Higher-paying, higher-skill creative class jobs – in fields spanning science and technology; business and management; arts, culture, and entertainment; health care and education – are concentrated in a T-shape pattern radiating out of the downtown core of the city. Lower-skill, lower-wage jobs surround the creative class T and are concentrated in more outlying areas. Toronto’s geography reflects a city that has become almost completely post-industrial: There are very, very few districts left in the city where working class jobs are the dominant concentration. But where those jobs are can help us understand the mayor’s race and Toronto’s increasingly class-polarized politics.
The two leading candidates come from completely different economic and geographic worlds. The only working class concentrations in the upper left-hand quadrant of the map are in or very close to Rob Ford’s city council riding. Prior to running for mayor, George Smitherman represented the Toronto Centre Provincial riding, an area that is at the virtual apex of the creative class zone.
Toronto needs to come to grips with its growing class divide, and to develop strategies that can begin to address it if it wants to retain the tolerance, social cohesion, and commitments to social justice which have so long been its hallmarks.