May 24, 2023
TORONTO – The tides are turning in Toronto, and supporters of all candidates are ready for it.
Earlier this month, Toronto & York Region Labour Council commissioned Environics Research to design and conduct an online poll of 1,001 eligible voters in the City of Toronto to identify key issues of concern, as well as their preferred solutions to those issues. The survey was conducted between May 2 and 11, 2023.
Torontonians identified their top three issues of municipal concern as affordability of day to day life; crime and public safety; and housing.
While these three issues have made their way to the top of campaigns across the political spectrum, the voters polled shared a strong inclination toward progressive policies—regardless of their preferred candidate in either this mayoral or last spring’s provincial election.
A majority of Torontonians (55%) say the city should invest in better public services even if it means a small tax increase. This includes majorities of supporters of five of the leading candidates (Bailao, Bradford, Chow, Matlow, and Hunter), as well as a plurality of those who support Mark Saunders and those who are still undecided. Just 26 percent take the opposite view that the city not invest in improving public services and instead focus on reducing property taxes.
“Labour Council has advocated for progressive policies with and for working people at all levels of government, especially municipal, for over 150 years,” said Andria Babbington, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. “We know that local policy choices have the greatest impact on people’s daily lives. That’s why I am so encouraged by the results of this survey. The will of the people is strong, and we’ll be there to backstop progressive change.”
A large majority of Torontonians (63%) believe that Toronto needs a mayor who will stand up for the city, and against the policies of the Ford government, compared to just 16 percent who prefer a mayor who will follow Ford’s lead. Strong majorities of supporters of almost all candidates support a mayor who will stand up for Toronto. Supporters of Saunders are almost evenly divided on this question.
One half of Torontonians (49%) feel that the best approach to public safety is to reallocate some of the police budget to mental health and social services. Just three in ten (30%) think the better approach is to increase the police budget and hire more officers. Large majorities of supporters of Chow, Hunter, Bradford, and Matlow prefer reallocating some of the police budget to mental health and services approach. Only Saunders supporters tend to prefer increasing the police budget and hiring more officers.
“Regular people who have been living the reality of Toronto’s decline are done with austerity politics,” said Babbington. “As a city, we can’t keep going the way we’ve been going. Voters are calling for new solutions to Toronto’s biggest problems. Now all we need is a mayor who will answer the call.”
Babbington added, “I hope the Premier and the Prime Minister are paying attention. Before long, a new progressive mayor will call on them for their contributions to make Toronto a livable city for all. And when they do, a strong majority of Torontonians will be backstopping that call to action.”
What Torontonians want:
- 77% agree that developers have too much influence on political decision-making at City Hall.
- 76% agree that the City of Toronto should be taking the lead in building more affordable housing, such as co-op, “rent-geared-to-income,” and social housing.
- 75% agree major public infrastructure projects in Toronto should include community benefits agreements that include commitments to provide local jobs and services.
- 67% agree that the City of Toronto needs to take more action on climate change.
- 61% want to see the TTC service cuts reversed, even if it costs more money.