Paradkar: (Mostly) white covidiots at Trinity Bellwoods think the rules don’t apply to them. They’re right

Not only white folks can be covidiots. Ottawa has its share of visible minorities and whites who don’t respect social distancing visiting Dow’s Lake to look at the tulips.

André Picard notes the more fundamental issue at play, the inability of Toronto to free up more space for people (Don’t blame those who gather in parks – blame the city):

One look at images of Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday and it was instantly clear that idiocy is not just an affliction of the American middle class.

As a person with the luxury of living with greenery around me, I appreciate how difficult it must be to be trapped in a condo, sometimes even without balconies. I don’t blame people for wanting to break out of their confines when the sunny outside beckons so cheerily.

I get that there aren’t a lot of open spaces in the core of Toronto — although, for perspective, compared to many parts of the world, the city is positively lush.

What is bothersome is that while people around the world and even in our own city have been weathering the pandemic in far tougher conditions, in crappy apartments and crowded homes and in poverty, it was in Trinity Bellwoods that people somehow collectively felt entitled to say to hell with social distancing.

Their pleasure trumped our collective safety.

Trinity Bellwoods is considered a “gentrifying” neighbourhood with a higher concentration of white folks compared to the city. Like in all of the city, nearly half the resident are renters, and the same proportion have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the 2016 census.

Based on social-media comments and real-estate agents’ descriptions, the 32-acre Trinity Bellwoods Park is a place to be seen. That’s a concept beyond my comprehension but on Saturday it meant that people could have gone to other parks (Stanley Park, Alexandra Park) but didn’t.

I wonder if the news about who is most at risk from COVID-19 — the racialized have-nots — has created a sense of inoculation among the haves. It’s affecting those people, not us, unless we’re old. Pandemics have always killed the poorest — mainly because those are the bodies the virus comes across. People who can’t afford to hunker down necessarily place themselves at risk to keep the rest of us in comfort. Gathering in large numbers simply offers the virus more bodies to feast on.

Photographs doing the rounds on social media showed thousands of what looked like white people milling around in crowds in the west-end park, as if millions of other Torontonians were not holding back from precisely that because common sense. And courtesy. And safety.

No doubt there were racialized folks among those gathered — fools come from all races — but they were protected by the overwhelming whiteness of those around them. Had that been a sea of Black and brown folks, we’d be having a very different conversation today.

While we may call Saturday’s hordes at Trinity Bellwoods covidiots or victims of squashed housing or poor communications by the province, to me they serve as a quick snapshot as to who feels entitled to the public space in this city, who gets scrutinized and who gets penalized for existing in it.

Of course, race matters, class matters.

A couple of weeks ago, a Tamil friend in our suburban neighbourhood was taking his children for a walk, observing all social-distancing protocols. A white man working on his front lawn chided him for being outside and told him to get off the sidewalk and walk on the road.

Last month, the father of a Black teen in Ottawa accused a trustee of harassing and photo-shaming his teenage son on Facebook for shooting hoops by himself. This was before there was clarity around the use of public parks.

In Brampton, Peel Police broke up groups of people who broke social-distancing rules by playing cricket and fined them $880 each.

It was also Eid this weekend when Muslims ended the month-long fasting of Ramadan. It’s a time of celebration, but Muslim Canadians shared stories on Twitter of a visible police presence in their communities to ensure they didn’t break social-distancing rules.

In Toronto, several homeless people have also been given $880 tickets for sitting on public benches, according to Policing the Pandemic, a map that tracks criminal charges across the country. The vast majority of police enforcement thus far has been about failing to comply with distancing rules, the researchers found.

So where was the weight of all that enforcement on Saturday? How many people were fined? Mayor John Tory said the people need to “do better” and sent in bylaw officers Sunday. Is that their only accountability? To be mocked en masse and face expressions of disappointment from our leaders but bear no individual responsibility?

What about community spread? Given that Ontario’s testing and contact tracing efforts are flailing — that we don’t actually know how community transmission is spreading — will we ever be able to track how many people were endangered by the indifference of the folks at Trinity Bellwoods Park?

Has the province sought the might of the police to keep all of us safe or only some of us safe? Why does the amount of melanin in the wrongdoer dictate who gets off, and whom we choose to perceive as wrongdoer in the first place?

Guess there’s no one quite like covidiots to expose the toxic hierarchies that operate under pretty ideals of egalitarianism.

Source: Shree Paradkar(Mostly) white covidiots at Trinity Bellwoods think the rules don’t apply to them. They’re right

Suburban families. Young renters. Frail seniors. Data reveals who is most at risk financially and socially across Canada amidst the pandemic

Some impressive integration of diverse data sources that highlights the range of vulnerable groups from a variety of angles:

New data from Environics Analytics highlights communities made vulnerable by coronavirus lockdowns across the country and profiles people at risk — such as young suburban families — that might get overlooked.

The data suggests where governments, businesses and social agencies need to focus supports and services as the economy takes baby steps toward reopening, Environics says.

“Governments are going to have to get more focused and pinpoint who they need to help and how,” says Rupen Seoni, senior vice president at Environics Analytics. “We have to get the right help to the right people.”

The data, which Environics Analytics made available to the Star, scores Canada’s more than 850,000 postal code communities on how likely they are to be vulnerable financially, socially, and by how old and frail their residents might be. The data company also developed profiles of people most at risk in those categories.

The company used thousands of data points from a long list of sources, including its own demographic research, Statistics Canada, the Bank of Canada, Canada Post, aggregated credit scores, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the census and surveys.

Environics found that the most financially vulnerable census metropolitan area in the country is Cold Lake, Alta., largely because of its reliance on the oilsands industry, which has seen the price of its product plummet during the pandemic’s economic fallout.

The least financially vulnerable is Canmore, also in Alberta, and the Greater Toronto Area fares only slightly worse. But the affluence indicated at Toronto’s metropolitan census level masks dense vulnerable pockets of people at the neighbourhood level, Environics notes.

Environics defines financially vulnerable people as those who will struggle to meet financial obligations like mortgages or utility bills if coronavirus lockdowns caused a sudden drop in their income. It’s sadly no surprise that Indigenous people, after generations of colonialism and trauma, appear in this category as highly vulnerable.

More surprising, perhaps, is the high financial vulnerability of young suburban families.

According to Environics, the 700,000 households in this group are affluent when all is well. But they have relatively low savings — $57,000 on average — and a total debt that is double their household income of $105,000.

“They don’t have the liquid assets in savings to fall back on,” Seoni says. “They may be running into trouble in terms of having a sudden loss of income, based on their lifestyles.” Much depends on whether they’re able to continue working at home or in essential services during the lockdown.

Also highly vulnerable financially are “young urban renters,” Environics found.

“The younger renters in cities are not that highly indebted, they just don’t have that much income in the first place,” Seoni says. “When they lose their jobs, there’s just nothing left.”

Young single people in urban areas also face high levels of social vulnerability due to pandemic restrictions on movement.

Environics Analytics defines social vulnerability as people likely to experience isolation and mental health troubles, while having limited social networks and supports. It’s a challenge more prevalent in urban areas rather than rural ones.

Environics found that 36 per cent of young singles surveyed in cities reported feeling a weak sense of community belonging.

“Often, they are transplants into the big city, so their social networks tend to be weaker,” Seoni says. “A good number of them would be students … They’re alone in the city, almost.”

Newcomers to Canada also face high levels of social vulnerability, Environics found.

“What’s really driving it for these newcomers is a lack of social networks,” Seoni says. Something as simple as finding a trusted person to rely on for groceries, for example, can be a challenge, Seoni adds.

Older people, particularly those on low incomes, and people with poor health, make up a group that, according to Environics, is vulnerable due to a high level of “frailty.”

The coronavirus has made only too clear the vulnerability of people in nursing homes. But the people Environics highlights are those not living in nursing homes, but whose frailty makes daily activities difficult.

The District of Guysborough, anchored by a port town in Nova Scotia, has the highest frailty level of vulnerability in Canada, Environics found. Peel Region, west of Toronto, has one of the lowest, but Seoni again warns about the regionwide picture masking vulnerable pockets.

“In the big picture, you don’t have many frail citizens,” he says. “But they’re there and they need help.”


Welcome to the tent clinic where Toronto’s undocumented immigrants get medical care

Of note:

Alma Tacuboy and her ailing father were signalled to a grey vinyl tent on the lawn as soon as she pulled her car into the driveway of the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care.

The Toronto clinic, at Sheppard and Midland Avenues, serves the city’s uninsured and undocumented migrants, but had been shut down since mid-March due to COVID-19. Patients could only call in over the phone or be seen virtually on a video app.

However, with a pent-up demand for basic health-care needs in the midst of the pandemic, volunteers and staff have erected the tent to make sure primary care remains accessible to the most vulnerable population.

“We had to stop seeing patients and started doing things virtually. There are clearly patients to be seen and their conditions are deteriorating in isolation,” said Dr. Paul Caulford, a co-founder of the clinic, which opened the 10-by-20-foot field tent to patients last week.

“With primary care backing up, things still need to be done for newborns who are not immunized and patients who have chronic health problems.”

From behind a glass panel, a masked Caulford conducted a thorough medical assessment of Hilario Tacuboy, who woke up feeling light-headed and with blurred vision in his right eye.

Wearing a face shield, an N95 mask and isolation suit coveralls, Caulford came out from behind the glass divider and gingerly examined the 60-year-old man’s eye. He was looking for symptoms of a stroke — something that couldn’t be done through the glass, let alone over the phone.

Alma Tacuboy said her father had come to visit from the Philippines, but couldn’t return home because the country is locked down and all flights have been cancelled. His travel health insurance expired and friends referred them to the clinic.

She said she decided against taking her father to the emergency room after her father-in-law died alone at North York General Hospital two weeks ago of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The family couldn’t visit.

“We’re afraid to go to a hospital with my dad because of COVID. We’re scared we couldn’t see him, hear him or just give him food if he’s hungry,” she said. “We feel safe in this tent. We have our masks and gloves. And there is fresh air.”

Even though the Ontario government has relaxed the access to health care and expanded medical coverage to the uninsured and undocumented patients in the wake of the pandemic, Caulford said many patients still fear seeking help and going to the hospital.

In mid-April, Caulford reached out to Global Medics, a Canadian humanitarian group, for a tent that is usually used for disaster relief. A contractor donated the labour to build the wooden deck and interior of the makeshift outdoor clinic.

The staff and volunteers were then faced with the challenge of finding personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and patients. When their own clinic shuttered, they donated what they had to their front-line colleagues fighting the pandemic in hospitals.

An effort led by the local Chinese Canadian community came to the rescue with boxes and boxes of PPE, which made the opening of the field clinic possible.

“I was in tears watching the community effort,” said Caulford, adding that the clinic also got support from local MP Jean Yip (Scarborough-Agincourt), the Canadian Medical Protective Association and the Ontario Medical Association, as well as local health authorities.

The outdoor clinic is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Before they can be seen in person, patients must call for virtual care and triaging. The virtual appointments are mandatory and must be completed before a patient can see a doctor at the clinic.

Source: Welcome to the tent clinic where Toronto’s undocumented immigrants get medical care

Toronto public health to start collecting COVID-19 data on race in a bid to track health inequities

Other cities and provinces to take note:

Toronto’s public health unit will expand its data collecting capabilities so that it can better assess the pandemic’s impact by race and income, the Star has learned.

The aim is to assess whether there are disparities in how COVID-19 is impacting some communities — an initiative the city is shouldering because “provincial officials suggest this is not a priority concern for them,” according to a letter from Toronto Board of Health chair Joe Cressy to board members, expected to be made public Wednesday.

“We know that the biggest indicator of one’s health status is their postal code — not because of where we live, but because of what it can say about who we are,” the letter says.

“This makes it clear just how important it is that we have access to comprehensive data.”

Ontario has drawn criticism from health advocacy groups for not collecting statistics on race and ethnicity after the province’s chief medical officer, David Williams, said earlier this month this kind of data collection isn’t currently necessary.

A 2016 government report on health inequities — authored by Williams — highlights the role factors like race and income play in determining health, and notes the importance of “data to understand health inequities and inform community development efforts.”

“To create healthy communities, it’s time for the public health sector in Ontario to champion health equity: to bring a wide range of partners together to develop policies and programs that reduce or eliminate social, economic and environmental barriers to good health,” the 2016 report said.

Early evidence from the United States shows Black and Hispanic communities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary data released by New York City last weekshows the virus is killing Blacks and Latinos at twice the rate of white people.

In a statement to the Star, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health said existing legislation does not “require or authorize health information custodians to collect race-based data.”

“Health was excluded from the Anti-Racism Act due to Personal Health Information Protection Act considerations,” the statement said.

“The ministry wants to understand issues of inequity, in terms of how the coronavirus pandemic and pandemic response may affect subgroups of the population differentially and is researching using data from other sources to better understand equity issues.”

In an interview with the Star, Cressy called the province’s response to the issue “flabbergasting.”

“This shouldn’t be groundbreaking. Nor should it even be necessary,” he said of the measures now being taken by the City of Toronto.

“It’s absolutely essential, as it has always been, that we have comprehensive data to fully understand and in turn respond to COVID-19. In the absence of appropriate disaggregate race-based data, we cannot properly respond.”

As a result, Cressy said, Toronto Public Health is now exploring ways to expand data fields in its current system — known as the Coronavirus Rapid Entry System — to include race and sociodemographic data.

Cressy said an early analysis cross-referencing the geographic location of early positive COVID-19 diagnoses with census data didn’t find concerning trends — but noted that initial cases often involved individuals returning from international travel who tend to have higher incomes.

“There are two stories to this pandemic. The first was early travel-related cases. And the second is how COVID-19 preys on the most vulnerable,” he said.

Steini Brown, the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said low-income Ontarians are “now at a higher risk of infection and cases.”

“If you look into the evidence from the U.S., there are a variety of factors about who people are that are very strongly associated with their likelihood of getting the infection,” he said.

Research has already shown that the workers deemed essential to maintaining the country’s vital supply chain during the pandemic are significantly more likely to be low-wage and racialized compared to the rest of the labour market.

In 1980, Black and white Toronto neighbours made about the same income. Not anymore

Dramatic increase in inequality, with similar findings to Hulchanski’s analyses regarding the colour of poverty (Toronto is segregated by race and income. And the numbers are ugly – Toronto Star):

If you were a Black man living in Toronto in 1980, you were probably making about the same income as your white neighbour. But today, it’s a dramatically different story.

Average incomes of racialized people in the Toronto region have stagnated or dropped over the past 35 years while incomes of non-racialized residents have soared, according to alarming new research by United Way Greater Toronto.

The earnings gap was barely noticeable in 1980. But by 2015, for every dollar earned by non-racialized Torontonians, racialized residents made an average of just 52.1 cents, says the agency in a report being released Monday.

“The growth of income inequality is undermining the promise that ‘diversity is our strength’ — and that’s a problem,” says United Way president Daniele Zanotti.

“We know that in a less equal society, circumstances that are beyond your control — like the colour of your skin, the postal code you are growing up in — are now having a greater influence on your outcome,” he adds. “For a region to be great, it needs to be great for everyone.”

The report, based on micro-data from the latest census, reinforces other Canadian research, the agency says. But it shows for the first time how income inequality impacts racialized people in the Toronto region to a much greater degree than in the rest of the country. And the findings are the same regardless of whether they are newcomers, longtime immigrants or Canadian-born.

“There are lots of other reports that say the same thing, but we didn’t really expect to see it … so dramatically,” says Michelynn Laflèche, the United Way’s vice president of research and policy. “This one really shocked me.”

Language and education are often blamed for the disparity, Laflèche notes, but other studies refute that explanation.

“There is something else going on in the labour market that can only come down to discrimination and exclusion,” she says.

The United Way uses Statistics Canada’s definition of “visible minority” to describe racialized people, who in many neighbourhoods in the Toronto area make up the majority of residents. They include people who describe themselves in the census as South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean or Japanese.

The report, titled “Rebalancing the Opportunity Equation,” is the third instalment in the United Way’s research on how effort and access to opportunity result in varying degrees of success for residents.

Monday’s report, which examines the impact of racial identity, immigration status, age and gender, shows these factors increasingly have become barriers.

Coupled with the United Way’s 2018 report on the growing polarization of the region’s high- and low-income neighbourhoods, the latest report paints a troubling picture, Laflèche says.

“We end up with a segregated society at many levels all coming together in this compounding effect of income, race and immigration status and creating what we called last year ‘segregated islands of wealth and poverty,’” she says.

“What does that mean for us as a society?” she asks. “It’s bad news. It means people no longer have a sense of collective identity. They lose this kind of trust and reciprocity that was so much more common in the past and which are the foundations for a strong, cohesive society.”

While average incomes of immigrants across the country, regardless of their residency in Canada, haven’t improved since 1980, the report shows the divide is worse in the Toronto region, where incomes have dropped in some areas.

“Age, immigration status, gender, racial identity and even postal code increasingly have become barriers to success in Greater Toronto,” Zanotti says.

In Peel Region, for example, average incomes of long-time immigrants dropped to $46,600 in 2015 from the equivalent of $50,100 in 1980, according to the report. Meanwhile, average incomes for Canadian-born residents in that region rose from $52,800 to $61,100 in constant dollars during that time.

The report shows similar income drops among immigrants in York Region and Toronto.

In all three regions, the average income gap between immigrants and Canadian-born residents was most pronounced for people in permanent, full-time jobs. And for racialized and immigrant women, the disparity was even greater, the report found.

“The gap demonstrated here is so extreme and significant, that it demands action and it demands a collective discussion, both across the country and the GTA on multiple strategies to address it,” Zanotti says.

Shaunette Tomlinson, a 34-year-old Etobicoke mother of two who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica at age 16, has struggled to climb out of poverty-level employment for most of her adult life. And that is despite earning two college diplomas.

She contrasts her work experience with that of her father, a truck driver in Jamaica who came to Canada in the 1980s and immediately found work in his field. Within a short time, he was able to buy a home and support a wife and six children on his earnings, Tomlinson says. He currently runs a fleet of four trucks and continues to thrive.

“I look at his life at age 34 and my own and I wonder why it is so hard today,” she says. After more than a decade of part-time and dead-end jobs, Tomlinson has finally landed a career-track position in finance and administration at the Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre in Scarborough.

“For the first time in my life I love to get up in the morning and go to work — even though it’s a long commute,” says Tomlinson, whose next goal is to save for a condo.

Gurpreet Malhotra, executive director for Indus Community Services, sees people like Tomlinson every day in his large multi-service agency with branches in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville.

One of his agency’s biggest challenges is helping people move from “survival jobs” into career-focused employment.

“The large number of temp agencies operating in our area and their need to maintain a temp pool (of workers) isn’t helping people advance,” he says.

Indus is part of the Peel Community Benefits Network, a group of agencies working to ensure the Hurontario LRT transit project hires local talent.

Community benefits agreements are just one way local agencies are trying to address the challenging findings in the United Way report, he adds.

“It really is harder today than it was for me in the 1980s,” adds Malhotra, whose parents moved from India to England where he was born. The family immigrated to Canada when he was 11.

After studying public policy administration at York University, Malhotra landed a job at age 24 as executive director for a small neighbourhood agency, earning almost $60,000 in today’s dollars.

“I’ve been impacted by the colour of my skin and racism … but it was much easier for me than for someone with an accent and who didn’t go to school here,” he says.

Today, many newcomers his agency serves have been in Canada for a decade or more, but still have not mastered English because their communities and workplaces are filled with immigrants like themselves. It puts these workers at a double disadvantage during layoffs, Malhotra says.

Such demographic and geographic inequities lead to an increasingly divided society where different groups of people have distinct life experiences and trajectories, and where many people have little opportunity to meaningfully interact with anyone from outside their group, the report notes.

In Toronto, more than half of people had little or no interaction with friends from a visibly different ethnic group in the last month, while 60 per cent interacted almost exclusively with people who spoke the same mother tongue, according to the report.

These divisions “wear on the foundations of our communities,” it says. “It means the most vulnerable among us are more likely to find themselves socially isolated, with few connections, networks and resources to rely on for support.”

It makes it harder to build trust between different groups and “fuels the seeds of division, driving negative attitudes and stereotypes,” the report says.

The United Way makes 12 recommendations under three broad headings: ensuring everyone can participate in society; enabling people to get ahead; and making life more affordable. And it starts with a national conversation, president Zanotti says.

“Ultimately, unless we address the discriminatory attitudes, like racism and xenophobia, that underlie the opportunity equation, income and social inequality trends … will not improve,” the report says. “Together, we can redefine what it means to be Canadian in this increasingly polarized world.”

The United Way is urging government, unions, community and private sectors to develop “data-informed” strategies to combat systemic discrimination. And it wants to strengthen the community services sector to better meet the growing demand for services that help promote inclusion and level the playing field.

The report suggests targeted investments to help young adults, immigrants, racialized people, and women overcome the multiple barriers they often face in finding secure jobs with a future.

And it recommends improving job quality and security, updating and improving employment standards legislation and Employment Insurance.

The report also calls on the federal government to beef up the Canada Worker Benefit and urges all levels of government to create more affordable housing, public transportation and child care to support all workers, but especially groups whose incomes have stagnated.

“We are at a critical juncture — the policies, practices, and programs that have made us a country and city-region celebrated for its prosperity and inclusion are not the same policies, practices, and programs that will get us to where we need to go now,” says the report. “The future of our city-region depends on the choices we make today.”

Source: In 1980, Black and white Toronto neighbours made about the same income. Not anymore

Previous housing data understated number of non-resident buyers in Vancouver and Toronto

The importance of good data and how it could have made a difference in public discussion and debate (not that the real estate industry is likely to change its position given its business interests). Particularly worrisome that a government agency, CMHC, got it so wrong in 2015 with a flawed methodology:

Not so long ago, real estate industry and government officials were doing their best to shut down concerns that skyrocketing housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto were related to non-resident buying.

As it turns out, they were very wrong.

“Basically, if we put every residential property unit that was built in the city of Vancouver from 2006 to 2017 into a single building, every tenth unit [and a bit more] would have been owned by somebody who doesn’t live in the country,” says Andy Yan, urban planner and director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program.

The CMHC condo survey of 2015, a busy year for the real estate market, maintained that foreign ownership of condos was low in metro Vancouver and metro Toronto, at 3.5 and 3.3 per cent respectively.

In 2016, Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation chief executive Evan Siddall told the Vancouver Board of Trade that blaming foreign buying was creating an “unhealthy tension” between “existing residents and newer arrivals.” Instead, he pointed to local investors, population growth and lack of supply as the big factors in Vancouver’s affordability crisis.

But the CMHC’s latest Housing Market Insight report, released last week, shows the previously released data were off by as much as two to three times the actual rate of non-resident participation in home ownership. Based upon the new study, the numbers are actually 11.2 for metro Vancouver and 7.6 for metro Toronto.

The CMHC’s new Housing Market Insight report, in partnership with Statistics Canada, now reveals the extent of non-resident buying in Vancouver. The CMHC had begun releasing its Condominium Apartment Survey in 2014, after collecting information on non-resident ownership, in response to the affordability crisis. But the CMHC only had access to condo data and its methodology was limited. It partnered with Statistics Canada to form the Canadian Housing Statistics Program (CHSP), to address the major gaps in data on housing. In 2017, as part of the federal budget, StatsCan got extra funding to delve deeper into offshore buying, which is when the data got more interesting – and far more accurate. It meant that instead of interviewing building managers about the number of foreign owners in the buildings – an obviously problematic method – the CMHC had data from Canada Revenue Agency and the provincial land titles office to verify tax residency.

Perhaps the most surprising revelation is the rate of non-resident participation in the buying of newly built condos across the region.

“Of the housing units owned by non-residents, 55 per cent are condos,” says Jordan Nanowski, senior CMHC analyst and co-author of the report.

Where non-resident ownership is concerned, metro Vancouver overshadowed Toronto by a wide margin. And new builds were a particular draw. Non-resident owners played a part in 19.2 per cent of Vancouver condos built between 2016 and 2017. In other words, almost 20 per cent of condos built that year had at least one non-resident on title. In Toronto, meanwhile, the number falls to a mere 9 per cent.

Mr. Yan dug deeper into the CHSP data, and came up with more numbers. Non-residents have participated in the ownership of a shocking 14 per cent of all housing types built in the city of Vancouver in the past decade (as in, at least one person who owns the property is a non-resident). For metro Vancouver, that rate is 11.2 per cent. For the city of Toronto, the rate is 8 per cent; metro Toronto is 5.2 per cent.

In Coquitlam, B.C., 20.8 per cent of new condos had at least one non-resident on title. In Surrey, B.C., the figure is 20.5 per cent of condos in that time period. Burnaby, B.C., is at 25.1 per cent. Richmond, B.C., has the highest percentage of all, at a whopping 25.8 per cent, he says.

“In Richmond, condos built between 2016 to 2017, we’re talking about 26 per cent have non-resident participation. That’s one in four.”

The numbers are big in the broader housing market picture as well, with 7.8 per cent of all single detached houses built in metro Vancouver from 2006 to 2017 owned by at least one non-resident purchaser. For condos, the numbers jumps to 18 per cent of all condos built in that time period.

“This is something that people have denied for so long,” Mr. Yan says. “It measures a form of foreign ownership that many have denied was happening, and in proportions that few could imagined.”

Mr. Nanowski says that non-resident participation tended to increase when density increased and prices increased. Across all age groups, non-residents tended to own more expensive homes. But a number that stood out for him was the higher prices of detached homes owned by non-residents in the city of Vancouver. Detached homes in the city owned by non-residents were, on average, assessed at $1.1-million more than those owned by residents. In Toronto, the difference of a detached house owned by resident and non-resident was only $89,000.

“Big difference,” Mr. Nanowski said. “Yes, non-resident premiums are largest in Vancouver and the prevalences are largest in Vancouver as well.”

Using new methodology, the crown corporation has revealed that many properties have a mix of resident and non-resident ownership. They analyzed this mix in the category of “non-resident participation,” meaning at least one owner on title was a non-resident. Put another way, at least one person on title is a non-tax resident, which means they do not have a principal tax residence in Canada. They earn their income and pay their income taxes elsewhere. This is a key difference from the CMHC’s previous methodology, which was to define “non-resident” ownership as a property that was owned entirely by non-residents, or majority-owned by non-residents.

The definition of a “non-resident” is someone whose principal residence is outside of Canada, irrespective of their nationality.

Also, these rates do not include pre-sale purchases, or what units were not owner-occupied and held as investments. The study authors did not provide data on the source countries of origin for non-resident owners.

“The summary of all this is the globalization of Canadian residential real estate,” Mr. Yan said, “and what are you going to do or not do about it, on a federal, provincial and local policy basis? This is about transparency, taxation and fairness, and how we build housing and for who, in our communities.”

Mr. Nanowski says the previous data they used weren’t flawed, but useful for following trends. The new data is much more comprehensive, he says.

“When we look at this data, we want to compare it to itself only, as a kind of cross section and not compare it to previous data. Because there is a change in methodology,” he says.

Josh Gordon, assistant professor at the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University, says that the delay of such important data has likely been a setback. He points out that industry voices used the previously limited CMHC data to bolster their arguments that foreign buying was exaggerated. Prof. Gordon had questioned the CMHC’s reports at the time, and received some flak for it.

“Imagine in 2015 if we had a sense that non-resident buyers were buying 15 per cent or so of new condos. How would that have changed the nature of the debate? Would that not have indicated that there was an issue that needed addressing?,” Prof. Gordon asks.

“Those who wanted to push back against possible restrictions were able to use the ‘authority’ of the CMHC in the debate to good effect, and this delayed possible policy action. More accurate data would have helped build the case for policy restrictions, and that might have mitigated the sharp escalation of prices.”

Mr. Yan found it ironic that the report was released the same week as the City of Vancouver announced its annual homeless count was underway.

“Perversely, this week saw the release of measures on two drastically different ends of Vancouver’s housing situation. With the CMHC release, we see the numbers of homeowners who don’t live in the country, juxtaposed with Vancouver doing its homeless count of those who actually live here, but don’t have the benefit of a home.”

TTC officers have collected more than 40,000 records on riders who weren’t charged. A disproportionate number in the database are Black

I would be interested in a comparative study to see for any differences between those given cautions and those charged.

There is a certain paradox in race-based (visible minority) data collection: if collected, perceived as intrusive but yet data may indicate singling out certain groups, if not collected, we will only have anecdotes to rely on.

Hard to see the justification for keeping the “field information cards” for 20 years rather than just the aggregated data:

For years, the TTC has been quietly maintaining a database that includes thousands of records detailing personal information collected from transit riders who weren’t formally charged with any offence — records it keeps for 20 years and, at times, will share with police.

In the course of their daily duties, the agency’s fare inspectors and enforcement officers stop people on the transit system who, the TTC says, they believe have committed fare evasion or other offences. If the officers decide not to issue the person a ticket, they can record sensitive information such as the person’s name, address, driver’s licence number, physical appearance and race on “field information” cards, and then enter those details into a database that transit officers access daily but which most transit users aren’t even aware exists.

Data obtained by the Star through a freedom of information request shows that TTC officers filled out more than 40,000 of the cards between 2008 and the end of 2018. Once a rider’s information is in the system, the TTC says city bylaws dictate the agency must retain it for 20 years.

TTC officers recorded the race of the person they stopped on about three-quarters of the cards. An analysis of that information performed by the Star suggests a disproportionately high number of cards, 19.3 per cent, were filled out for interactions with Black people. Black residents make up about 8.9 per cent of Toronto’s population.

Civil rights experts say the practice sounds a lot like carding, the controversial tactic police have historically used to collect citizens’ personal information, and warn it could amount to racial profiling and a widespread invasion of privacy.

The TTC and the union that represents the officers firmly reject that characterization. Transit agency spokesperson Stuart Green said officers will use the form “as a formal caution in lieu of charges,” and will only fill one out if he or she has “reasonable and probable grounds that an offence has been committed and then uses their discretion to caution rather than lay a charge.”

Green said the purpose of the database is “to assist (the TTC enforcement unit) in its daily functions.” For instance, TTC officers can check the database to determine whether someone they’ve stopped for suspected fare evasion or another offence has been stopped before, which helps determine if they should receive a ticket or merely a warning.

Green said the TTC is not engaged in any form of carding.

“We do not random stop customers and investigate them,” Green said, and Black riders are “absolutely not” targeted, intentionally or otherwise.

Jake Mahoney, secretary of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 5089, which represents TTC officers, also strongly rejected the idea its members are performing discriminatory carding.

He said the field information cards are “a useful investigative tool” that officers only use “in a scenario where we observe an offence committed.”

“The union members that are out there doing this job, they don’t have any control over the race of the person,” he said. “I go back to the fact that everyone we stop and talk to, we have a legal authority to do so.”

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s equality program, said the database raises serious concerns about racial profiling and privacy.

“Any database that’s retaining information about people for no justified reason could be seen as carding. And where there’s a disproportionality of personal information being stored unjustifiably about racialized and marginalized people (that) certainly sounds like carding to me,” she said.

According to Mendelsohn Aviv, while the TTC is entitled to enforce its fare policies, there’s no justification for collecting and storing a rider’s personal information if they haven’t been issued a ticket.

“For a $3 fare, to record somebody’s personal information seems completely out of proportion,” she said.

She described the 20-year period for which the TTC retains the information as “outrageous.”

“The very fact of it being obtained, and then the added problem of it being retained, is certainly a violation of privacy,” she said.

The TTC database isn’t secret. But nor is it widely known to the public. The transit agency publishes voluminous data about its operations, but regular reports about how it’s collecting information from people on the transit system are not among them.

Even those riders who provide their information to TTC officers can be unaware of where it goes or how it could be used.

Although the TTC says the cards are used to issue warnings to people suspected of breaking the rules on the transit system, the person receiving the caution isn’t given a copy of the card, meaning they have no official record of the interaction and no easy way to identify the officer involved.

The TTC says officers aren’t required to provide a copy because a caution isn’t a formal charge, and that transit users can request information the agency may have on them by filing a freedom of information request.

Septembre Anderson was on her way home one sweltering evening in July 2016 when she was pulled off a streetcar by a fare inspector for not paying for her ride.

Anderson says she had a TTC token in her hand at the time, but she boarded the car by the back doors and it was too crowded for her to get to the fare box at the front.

Anderson, who is now 36 and works as a front-end web developer, recalls that the officer was going to write her a ticket for fare evasion, but decided to let her off with a warning instead.

To her surprise, she says he began asking her for personal details, such as her name, address and health card number. She asked what he would do with that information, and reacted with concern when he told her it would be put into a database.

“I wanted to know why my information was being put in a database if I wasn’t actually being given the ticket. How do I remove it from the database? Where does that information go?” she told the Star.

“There was no information given to me at all about my rights, or what my personal information was being used for.”

She didn’t want to give her information, but says she did because she felt she had no choice. “He was just like, ‘well ma’am you can get a ticket instead,’” she says.

To Anderson, who is Black, the experience felt like a form of carding.

“If he was giving me a warning, he just could have given me a verbal warning … If someone can stop and detain somebody and collect their personal information, yes that falls under carding,” she said.

Legal experts who spoke to the Star said the law can be unclear on what information officers, including those working for the TTC, can request from citizens.

Mendelsohn Aviv of the CCLA said she believed that officers shouldn’t ask for a person’s name unless “at a minimum” they’ve witnessed the person committing an offence.

Green, the TTC spokesperson, said that “depending on what (transit users) are being investigated for, they do have a legal obligation to identify themselves.”

There are two types of TTC officers who interact with the public on the transit system: fare inspectors and enforcement officers. Inspectors are tasked with ensuring riders pay the proper fare, while enforcement officers patrol the system for security purposes. Neither are full-fledged police officers, but transit enforcement officers have been designated special constables under an agreement with the Toronto Police Services Board and have limited police powers on the network.

Both inspectors and enforcement officers can fill out field information cards about members of the public.

For years, TTC officers used the same Toronto Police Service “208” forms to collect information about people on the transit system that police used for their street checks, before switching to their own “718” forms that were identical in many ways.

The Star obtained nearly 11 years worth of data the TTC recorded on the cards, which is not the complete set of records the transit agency has on file. The data didn’t include entries for people who were ticketed for an offence on the transit system, which the transit agency keeps in the same database. The data provided to the Star was also redacted to remove any information that could risk identifying an individual.

It showed that between January 2008 and December 2018, the TTC enforcement unit filled out 41,833 of the cards. Officers recorded the race of the person they stopped roughly 33,000 times, or in about three quarters of the interactions.

Of the cards on which the person’s race was recorded, 19.3 per cent were identified as Black.

Black residents make up only about 8.9 per cent of Toronto’s population, according to the 2016 Census. And while the TTC says it doesn’t have data indicating the racial makeup of its ridership, the census shows Black people constitute just 10.7 per cent of those in Toronto who commute by public transit. That figure doesn’t include trips for noncommuting purposes, and does include journeys on other transit agencies such as GO.

The proportion of card entries that Black transit users accounted for varied from year to year, and generally trended downward over the 11-year period. The figure was highest in 2011 when it reached about 27 per cent, and by 2018 had fallen to about 16 per cent.

Black residents’ personal information was more likely to be recorded if they were young and male. Males between the ages of 15 and 25 made up about 35 per cent of all Black people whose information was recorded on the cards. Males of the same age made up roughly 24 per cent of white residents recorded on the cards.

Green, the TTC spokesperson, said that in many cases the person’s race recorded on the card is based on officers’ observations.

“So if a person does not offer a race association, the officer will use best judgment,” he said.

Green couldn’t say why Black people appear to be disproportionately represented on the cards. “However, the TTC’s customer base is wider than just Toronto residents and almost half of Toronto residents identify as racialized,” he said.

He said the transit agency “is fully committed to treating all customers equally and without prejudice,” and officers receive training on diversity, inclusion and preventing discrimination.

Green acknowledged that the TTC sometimes shares information collected on the cards with police. He couldn’t say how often that had happened between 2008 and 2018, but said police “rarely” request the information and the TTC would only provide it if served a court order.

Nigel Barriffe, president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, said the TTC data is “very representative of what we saw with carding and the police,” and shows Toronto’s public institutions “are constantly pushing away our young Black males in our society and making them feel as if they don’t belong in our city.”

He said if Black people are being stopped by TTC officers at higher rates than other groups, it sends the message to Black residents that they have no place in public spaces like the transit system.

“It’s like you have to think twice if you’re a Black male taking public transit in this city,” he said.

He called for the TTC to improve its anti-bias training and make hiring decisions to ensure its enforcement unit reflects Toronto’s diversity.

Some people who used to work for the agency’s enforcement unit say they were uncomfortable with the use of the field information cards.

A former member of the TTC’s transit enforcement unit contacted the Star to raise concerns about the database after the Star published unrelated allegations of misconduct by transit officers.

The former officer, who agreed to discuss the issue on the condition of anonymity out of concern for future employment prospects, said there were “no checks and balances” on the use of the database and he believed riders should be made aware of it.

“There’s no real oversight really,” he said, adding he was concerned the TTC’s practice was akin to police carding.

Ann Cavoukian, who was formerly Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner between 2007 and 2014, said the TTC should consider suspending the collection of riders’ personal information, or at least provide the public and riders with more information about their rights and how the agency is using the data.

“In my view, I think they should stop collecting this information. At the very least, if they must continue collecting it, they should start by giving notice, clear transparency about what they’re doing, how long they’re going to retain the data, and in what form,” she said.

“I’m just really disturbed by this … I had no idea they had a database or they keep this information.”

The Star’s investigation into the database follows separate incidents that have raised concerns about the TTC enforcement unit’s conduct related to issues of privacy and alleged racial profiling.

A 2018 TTC report determined a fare inspector had used information he collected from a female rider to contact her later and ask her on a date, an incident that caused the woman to “fear for her safety.” The inspector kept his job.

The TTC is also being sued by a young Black man who was pushed and pinned down by transit officers as he exited a streetcar in February 2018, in what he alleges was a case of racial profiling. The allegations haven’t been proven in court.

In part as a result of the Star’s questions about the database, the TTC said it is reviewing the forms and how officers used them.

However, at a TTC board meeting last month agency officials said they planned to make greater use of the database to help get a handle on the network’s costly fare evasion problem, which the city auditor general recently reported cost the TTC $61 million in foregone revenue last year.

The agency is also hiring an additional 45 fare inspectors and 22 enforcement officers this year, bringing their total complement to 186 officers and meaning interactions between officers and riders will likely become more frequent.

Source: TTC officers have collected more than 40,000 records on riders who weren’t charged. A disproportionate number in the database are Black

How Toronto Is Wooing Tech Immigrants Away From Silicon Valley

More on a Canadian advantage:

“Nobody calls it Maple Valley,” says Yung Wu. What about Silicon Valley North? No, that nickname hasn’t caught on either, he replies amiably: “We’re not Silicon Valley.”

Toronto’s understated technology community has politely defied outsiders’ attempts to define its rapid growth in relation to California’s unmatched innovation engine. Yet veteran entrepreneurs such as Wu admit to taking some pride in last year’s discovery that Canada’s largest city had created more tech jobs than San Francisco — or any other U.S. metropolis — in the preceding five years.

Its population of software developers, engineers and programmers grew by more than half between 2012 and 2017, according to CBRE, the commercial real estate firm. The 82,100 technology jobs it added over that period made it North America’s fastest-growing tech center, CBRE calculated, to the surprise of many south of the border. Wu, who runs a hub for startups called MaRS Discovery District on the site of Toronto General Hospital, where the use of insulin was pioneered, sees several reasons for this “brain gain,” from the city’s relative affordability to the work being done on artificial intelligence at the University of Toronto.

But he and many of the entrepreneurs on his bustling 1.5-million-square-foot campus credit one new factor with helping Toronto attract ambitious foreign tech workers who would once have headed for Silicon Valley by default: Since the elections of Justin Trudeau in 2015 and Donald Trump in 2016, attitudes to immigration in Ottawa and Washington have diverged markedly.

“There’s a chill going on south of the border,” says Toby Lennox, CEO of Toronto Global, the group tasked with attracting foreign investment to North America’s fourth-largest city. “Right now we’re positioning ourselves to be a lot more welcoming.”

America’s president has not threatened to build a wall along its northern border, but he has made it harder for even skilled foreigners to enter the U.S., where they could undercut the country’s homegrown workforce. In particular, his administration has tightened the requirements for granting H-1B visas and threatened to ban spouses of people on such permits from working.

Up to 85,000 people enter the U.S. each year under the H-1B program, which was introduced to help bring in highly skilled talent but has often been accused of being misused by employers more interested in replacing U.S. workers with cheaper foreigners.

Some U.S. executives concede that reforms are needed but say Trump’s actions and rhetoric have left white-collar employees, who once assumed a U.S. visa was almost a formality, feeling insecure and facing unexplained delays. In a tight labor market, corporate America has stepped up its lobbying for a more open regime.

The Business Roundtable (BRT), a group of CEOs from U.S. companies including Apple and Cisco, warned last summer that the Trump administration’s “buy American and hire American” policies were resulting in “arbitrary and inconsistent” visa adjudications. Since then the BRT has called for an increase in the number of H-1Bs granted, more predictability in the way skilled workers’ visas are assessed and greater efforts to retain international students with top science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees from U.S. universities.


The prescription has a distinctly Canadian ring to it. Canada already grants foreign students work permits for up to three years after graduation, and in June 2017 the country’s immigration and employment authorities launched what they called their Global Skills Strategy, with the goal of making it easier for employers to bring in highly skilled foreign workers.

Among its promises was that work permits for such individuals (and their families) would be processed within two weeks, subject to police and medical checks. Within little more than a year, more than 12,000 people had applied, of whom 95 percent had been accepted.

Some had applied for H-1Bs and been turned down, says Irfhan Rawji, a Canadian venture capitalist who launched a nearshoring company called MobSquad last October to help U.S. tech companies fill vacancies with people based in Canada. “We cannot build this country without skilled workers, and we do not have enough of them,” he says. More than 200,000 people apply each year for the 85,000 H-1B visas the U.S. offers, he notes. “So we knew there were 115,000 people who didn’t win the lottery who were willing to come to North America.”

There is nothing new about Canada being receptive to immigration: Some 51 percent of Toronto’s residents were born in another country — more than New York’s 40 percent. But the strategy has given a new tech focus to Canada’s immigration policy: The most common professions among those admitted were developers, computer analysts, university professors and software engineers.

This is already having a tangible impact, according to Elissa Strome, executive director of the $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy at CIFAR, a research institute based in the MaRS building.

“I think where Canada has really benefited on immigration is the change in our own policy, not the change in U.S. policy,” she says. “When I talk to CEOs, that speed of decision-making is what’s made the difference.”

Toronto’s entrepreneurs say a tech-friendly immigration system is essential because there are some skills they simply cannot find locally. “It is hard to find enough people with experience of large-scale consumer tech companies anywhere other than Silicon Valley,” says Ray Reddy, CEO of Ritual, a food-ordering app for office workers picking up lunch from local restaurants. “We have to import them.”

Ben Zifkin, CEO of Hubba, is among the entrepreneurs to have taken advantage of the Global Skills Strategy. His online marketplace for small retailers is starting a recruitment program in Tel Aviv to bring soldiers leaving the army to Toronto for a year. “If you want to come up here, I will have you a visa in two weeks. The ability to say that was a pretty impactful thing,” he says.

Among Toronto’s recent arrivals is Protik Das. He moved to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2012 to study aerospace engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, but the defense companies he met made clear that they were not interested in hiring non-Americans.

He tried his own startup but discovered that he could not apply for an H-1B visa while working for himself and would have to leave the U.S. within a year of graduation unless he could find an employer in the field he had studied to sponsor him. So in September 2017 he moved to Canada, where he is now an engineer with a company applying digital technology to wound care.

Bangladeshi friends who opted for Canadian universities were “way more relaxed about the situation,” he says, adding that he now advises younger Bangladeshis to choose Canada over the U.S. “because you have more guarantees in Canada.”

Das struggles to understand why the U.S. accepts bright foreigners to its universities, trains them and then lets them slip away. “Very talented people are spending a lot of money to come and study in the U.S.,” he says. But the stress the country’s visa process induces means U.S. companies “end up losing talent,” he argues.


Canada’s more welcoming approach has not only helped pull in people from the other side of the world such as Das, Hubba’s Zifkin observes — it has also made it easier to attract Americans and coax back Canadians working in the U.S.

“When 2016 happened, everybody thought that every tech worker would be walking across the border from Buffalo,” he says. “It wasn’t going to happen, but we now have the ability to go to New York and the Valley and wiggle people out.”

Canada has long worried about a “brain drain,” and a recent study found that a quarter of the 2015 and 2016 STEM graduates from the Universities of Toronto, British Columbia and Waterloo were working outside the country, most of them in higher-paying U.S. tech clusters. But a growing domestic tech industry is persuading more Canadians to stay or to return.

Ian Logan is among those who have come back. He grew up in Toronto but moved to the U.S. after he graduated in 2008 because the biggest Canadian name he knew in technology was RIM, the company that brought the world the BlackBerry. He ended up working for Airbnb in San Francisco but wanted a more family-friendly city when he and his wife had a child.

He returned to Toronto in 2017 to “a dramatically different tech scene” from the one he left and a job as vice president of engineering at Drop, a 60-person company with a loyalty points app. Several former colleagues are now considering following him north, he says, “because they have real visa challenges” or because they are attracted by Toronto’s lower cost of living.

“There was always good tech talent across Canada, but it was largely going south. Now that’s changed,” says Gord Kurtenbach, senior director of research at design software group Autodesk, who worked at Apple and Xerox Parc a generation ago.

“I never believed in my lifetime I’d be back working in Toronto,” he says, sitting in his AI-designed office on the MaRS campus. A decade ago, he says, his computer science lab was the only one of its kind in Toronto. Now, there are more than a dozen: Uber set up a Toronto lab in 2017 to research self-driving cars, Samsung has an AI center in the MaRS building and Nvidia and Microsoft are among the U.S. companies that have hired researchers in the city.

Such companies once used Toronto only as “a holding pen” for international employees waiting for U.S. visas, says Ritual’s Reddy. “Now it’s starting to be the end destination.”


Mary Louise Cohen, a Washington lawyer who set up a company with her husband to connect skilled refugees with employers around the world, recalls a meeting on immigration they attended in Ottawa in 2017.

“It really struck us how Canada saw that they were in a global talent competition and how they intended to win. Canada, I think, recognizes that they are a country of immigrants, that their strength is because of their diversity and that to grow and expand they have to bring in the best and brightest around the world,” she says. “I’m hoping in the coming years there will be much greater recognition that skilled immigration is valuable to the United States.”

Trump surprised many in the U.S. business community with a tweet in January in which he promised reforms to the H-1B program “to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.” But CEOs have seen little action since, and their hopes for bipartisan immigration reform are ebbing as 2020 election campaigning kicks off.

The prospect of a change in Washington is one challenge Toronto Global’s Lennox sees on the horizon for his city. “At some point, Trump is no longer going to be president,” he says, and his successor could make it easier for those with tech skills to choose the U.S. Before that moment, he says, “the trick is for us to translate the momentum we’re seeing now into something that’s abiding and resilient.”

To do that, Toronto’s tech companies will have to show that they can compete with the best of Silicon Valley, says Hubba’s Zifkin. “The people we’re trying to attract to Toronto are world-class folks. All they care about is working for winning companies.”

Wu of MaRS insists that Toronto can create enough winners. “We have the opportunity to see our entrepreneurs like we see our hockey players,” he says. “We can always apologize after we’ve won.”

Source: How Toronto Is Wooing Tech Immigrants Away From Silicon Valley

New Immigrants Spending $620,000 More on Vancouver Houses

Interesting differences between Vancouver and Toronto:

Vancouver homes purchased by recent immigrants are worth a third more on average than those owned by Canadians, a government study found.

People who moved to the Pacific coast city between 2009 and 2016 own 5 percent of the detached properties, which are worth C$2.34 million ($1.76 million) on average, or C$824,000 more than those owned by people born in Canada, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday. The gap in Vancouver prices is much larger than for immigrants who arrived earlier, and the same pattern doesn’t hold for Toronto, the agency said.

The report is one of the most detailed yet on immigration and housing in Vancouver and Toronto, the nation’s two most-expensive real estate markets. Policy makers are seeking to get a handle on the decade-long housing boom that drove prices to unprecedented levels, creating record household debt burdens and an affordability crisis.

Tuesday’s report said the role newcomers play in the Vancouver and Toronto real estate markets reflects the large share of the population they represent in each city. Immigrants own 37 percent of homes in Vancouver and made up 41 percent of the population in 2016, while in Toronto they own 43 percent of homes and were 46 percent of the population.

Toronto’s recent immigrants own 4.7 percent of single-detached homes worth an average of C$892,600, or just C$43,300 higher than other Canadian-born owners, the study found. It didn’t give a detailed explanation of why the shift to expensive homes in Vancouver by recent immigrants wasn’t mirrored in Toronto, saying a more detailed study would require many more years of data.

The Vancouver price gap was even larger under an immigration program that targeted new investors in Canada. Recent arrivals to the city under that federal program bought single-detached properties worth an average of C$3.11 million. Across several immigration categories, recent immigrants to Vancouver from China spent more on housing than people from nations such as India or the U.K.

Immigrants may spend more on housing because they have fewer savings in traditional retirement accounts or because of different cultural attitudes, the report said. “Home ownership might be an important milestone for immigrants in the path towards social and economic integration,” it said. “Investments in housing may also be a more important retirement asset and source of wealth creation for immigrants.”

Source: New Immigrants Spending $620,000 More on Vancouver Houses

Karen Robson: Why won’t Canada collect data on race and student success?

While I always favour more data to better understand the differences in outcomes between groups, I am puzzled by the assertions regarding data gaps made by Karen Robson in her recent opinion piece.

First, the OECD PISA study includes both first generation children, born abroad, and the second generation, born in the destination country, where issues related to racism and discrimination can be separated out more clearly from more basic integration issues (e.g., language fluency).

Secondly, while the visible minority category may not be perfect, it does provide a race-based breakdown in the Census with respect to education, along with other economic and social outcomes, which can be used to provide municipal level data at the census tract level. Toronto school board data uses largely comparable categories.

Ironically, the same pattern she cites with respect to Toronto, where the school board collects race-based data, can be seen nation-wide: Asian and South Asian students with stronger outcomes, Black and Latino weaker ones.

The following three charts illustrate this, looking at the highest level of education attainment for 25-34 year olds, or later than the high school data that she cites (i.e., the social and economic outcomes that reflect, in part, high school outcomes). The first looks at the university graduation rates for visible minorities, immigrant and non-immigrant (Canadian-born) compared to not visible minorities, the second provides a breakdown of the highest level of educational achievement for Toronto (I have done the same for the other cities) and the third looks at median employment income for university graduates:


Her academic article (…), on which this op-ed is based, doesn’t make these mistakes and is a comprehensive and interesting study of Toronto District School Board data.

But her arguments that the lack of comparable data to Toronto across the country is a significant data gap is less convincing.

Census data allows comparisons between municipalities (and down to the census tract level) and the richness of the data provides considerable scope for analysis. Whenever I find a blockage elsewhere (e.g., police force diversity numbers), I usually can find census data to respond to my key questions:

Although the impact of income inequality and gender on education outcomes is much discussed in Canadian government-level policy debates, factors of race and racism are seldom measured or addressed.

However, as an education researcher comparing student outcomes in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Chicago and London, I can see Canada’s policy-makers have a big knowledge gap because they don’t deal with or have access to information regarding race.

Students are impacted by factors of income, gender and also race. The combinations of these identities undoubtedly shape how students experience access to education, work and other types of social mobility.

Research shows that low-income can be highly racialized, yet in Canadian cities, the patterns are not completely divided along racial lines. Therefore, examining income alone overlooks the many important ways that inequalities in education are not simply an issue of economics.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, research reports regularly provide summaries of student outcomes by various characteristics, including race.

In Canada, we have a tendency to focus exclusively on whether a student comes from immigrant parents. I believe this focus is problematic.

Canada has been deemed an education superpower because comparisons between the standardized test scores (PISA) of Canadian children with those in other OECD nations find Canada near the top. As well, the 2016 federal census revealed that Canada has the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates in all 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Development (OECD). This mean that more than half of adult citizens in Canada between the ages of 25 and 64 have a college or university credential.

In particular, the success of immigrant children is used to argue that Canada is leading the way in equity.

In a country grappling with the heritage of colonialism, the success of immigrant children comes as good news to share and promote. This success can be interpreted as a sign that multiculturalism has been successful, that racism is not a barrier to education attainment and that immigrants are treated equally and have the same opportunities as children born in Canada.

This story continues in other arenas. Education researcher Trevor Gulliver analyzed citizenship guides for new Canadians and found that group identities in these education texts creates an idealized version of Canada as “Canada the redeemer.”

Such celebratory concepts of Canada need to be carefully considered.

There is a common misconception that racism is something that occurs in the U.S. and not in Canada.

One of the reasons that children of immigrants do so well in Canada is because of our immigration system which favours certain assets. The “points system” of immigration awards points to applicants who speak one of Canada’s official languages. Points are also awarded for job skills and level of education.

This is not to discount the work that teachers and schools do to integrate, educate and welcome students of immigrants; my point is that there are some reasons that such children who already speak an official language may be doing better than immigrants who arrive as refugees in another immigrant receiving country, like Sweden.

Focusing on the success of immigrants detracts from the problem of how systemic racism contributes to inequality in educational experiences and outcomes. Another common misconception is that race and immigrant status are equated; of course they are not the same thing.

The celebrated study about how well Canada did with global assessment scores only carries information on immigrant status, not race. With the exception of the Toronto District School Board, boards of education across the country do not record race data.

This lack of data has led to a dearth of studies examining the relationship between race and educational outcomes in Canada. Researchers simply do not have the data to analyze.

In response to research demonstrating a gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student outcomes in Canada, a Canadian think-tank reports that some provinces have pledged to begin asking Indigenous students attending mainstream schools to self-identify when provinces collect their PISA data. No known similar move is afoot, however, with regards to collecting data about racialized students or their income levels.

The Ministry of Education in B.C. has opted to ask students about the language students speak at home rather than their self-identified race.

Not only do we not have data on race, but it seems Canadians are also reluctant to talk about race. Even Statistics Canada defers to its old and outdated notion of “visible minority” when attempting to measure and discuss issues around race.

Lumping all non-whites together masks the huge differences we see in the educational outcomes of racialized students in Toronto.

Basically, this means comparisons are made between white and non-white people. This comparison happens even in areas like Toronto where “visible minorities” make up more than half of the population, making whites in fact, a minority. Further, the data tells us nothing about poverty by postal code.

In Toronto, where we do have data, the figures show that Asian and South Asian students trend toward having high marks and are more likely to go on to university. Black and Latino students trend toward lower grades and are more likely to be placed in the “applied” stream of high school courses (which are not eligible for university).

Considerable research in Toronto has identified Black males as having the lowest post-secondary opportunities due to their disproportionate placement in the “applied” stream of study.

These problems are not unique to Toronto; they are only measured in Toronto.

Lack of data does not mean lack of a problem. By not collecting data on race and other important sociodemographic factors of students, we fail to correct systemic barriers to success in our educational system.

By conflating immigrant success with a blanket commitment to equality, we blindly assume we are doing OK as we do not have any evidence to the contrary — because we haven’t taken the time to collect it.

Source: Karen Robson: Why won’t Canada collect data on race and student success?