Whooping cough in Toronto: How high property prices are impacting on housing

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Toronto – the main city for York University – is a short drive from Toronto on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario.

Toronto , which is world famous for its vibrant urban arts and technology scene, is also home to some of the world’s most expensive homes.

But high property prices in the city are so high that they have forced many people to buy their own homes outside its borders, where the cost of living is considerably lower, in neighbouring suburbs such as Vaughan, Mississauga and Markham.

And property price inflation in Toronto’s secondary suburbs is fuelling fears of an exodus of those struggling to afford their own homes.

The city and its sprawling suburbs have more than a million people , and as home prices rise, residents’ taxes are going up too, on a city where only the wealthiest residents can afford to live.

Toronto’s long-term economic future – with its booming technology and creativity sectors – depends on attracting more young talent to the city, and on keeping in these young people once they have started families.

As a result, Toronto is building more affordable housing, and new schools, parks and other facilities, to encourage people to stay.

In fact, on Saturday, hundreds of young families joined the city’s first-ever mass vaccination drive against pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, an infectious disease that makes people feel like they have been hit by a freight train.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption More than 1,000 people gathered at Toronto’s Little Italy neighborhood to participate in the vaccination drive

Toronto Mayor John Tory is also passionate about raising awareness of the disease, which killed two members of his own family in the 1980s.

One of them was John Tory, who had to be taken to hospital and spent months in bed with the disease.

“A lot of people had to come along, even me, and watch my granddaughter get her shot.”

New stats show that the number of cases of whooping cough soared to 240 cases in Toronto last year, double the figure in 2014, marking the first rise in a decade.

To try to stem the spread of the disease, thousands of people aged 0 to 24 are being encouraged to help vaccinate their neighbourhood children under the age of five, with 45 centres across the city, including in the city’s traditionally Italian district of Little Italy, offering free vaccination.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption High property prices are pushing people to buy their own homes outside the city, where the cost of living is much lower

Meanwhile, the introduction of mandatory school vaccination rules in Ontario in response to a measles outbreak in schools across the province, last year, that left 40 children infected, has already had a positive impact on keeping disease outbreaks to a minimum.

Toronto leaders think that one thing they can do to help control other diseases is to help tackle the runaway property prices that are pushing many of the city’s young people out of the city centre.

Realtor Heather Andrzejewski, a partner in Exclusive Edge Realty, told me that, although house prices have now stopped rising, they remain high, and add to the rental burden on lower-income families.

“You really don’t have the luxury to buy your own place because your income isn’t even enough to qualify for a mortgage, let alone to buy your own home,” she told me.

“These day rates of rent, especially for students, is so much of a burden because they’re just earning under minimum wage. They can’t afford $2,000 or $3,000 per month rent on top of mortgage costs. They can’t afford it at all.”

You can watch our full interview with Heather Andrzejewski here.

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