Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Enrique Domingo.

The National Institute on Ageing is excited to announce the launch of the ground-breaking new report, Toronto Social Capital Study. Conducted by the Environics Institute for the Toronto Foundation’s annual Vital Signs program, it is a first of its kind research on levels of social participation, trust, and engagement in Toronto.

The Toronto Foundation’s Vital Signs reports have challenged the idea that Toronto is a liveable city for all. Trends like: the fast-growing and ageing population, an increasing division into high and low income neighbourhoods, housing affordability. Given these trends, social capital becomes even more important to our collective well-being.

Social capital is critical to a good quality of life, a healthy population, safe streets, and economic prosperity. Ensuring that older adults are experiencing strong levels of social capital is particularly important to combating social isolation and promoting healthy ageing.

Older Torontonians report high levels of social capital 

The report finds that “older adults exhibit among the highest levels of social capital of those surveyed. Older Torontonians were more likely to have a close friend in their neighbourhood, and to be satisfied with the frequency of contact with family and friends. These findings hold true for older adults who live alone or in high-rise buildings.”

The findings also conclude that, “While loneliness and isolation are challenges for many older adults across the city as a whole, residents aged 65 and over living alone and/or in high-rise buildings are among the most satisfied with the frequency of contact with family and friends. This group is more likely than others to say they are very satisfied with the frequency of contact with family and friends, with very few (3% among all residents aged 65 plus) expressing dissatisfaction.”

“Cities rightly consider the built environment in relation to future prosperity and inclusiveness, but social capital – our connections to our institutions, services, community, and to one another – is equally vital as we collectively work to make Toronto a great place to live and to age,” said Michael Nicin, Executive Director of the NIA. “Understanding how well connected our citizens are will help us understand where residents are thriving and where more work needs to be done to combat social and civic isolation.”

With a shared interest in better understanding how older residents are faring socially in Canada’s largest city, the NIA and the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University partnered and joined a number of other organizations to fund the study, including the Ontario Trillium Foundation, MLSE Foundation, the Wellesley Institute, CanadaHelps, the Community Foundations of Canada, TAS Design Build, the United Way of GTA.

The report is based on a comprehensive survey of over 3,000 Torontonians aged 18 and older.

Read the Full Report Here

The National Institute on Ageing (NIA) is a university-based think tank focused on leading cross-disciplinary research, thought leadership, innovative solutions, policies, and products on ageing. The NIA’s mission is to help governments, health care systems, pension plans, businesses, and Canadian families to best meet the challenges and opportunities posed to ageing Canadians and by an ageing demographic.