Rent prices in Toronto exceed the costs of owning, why you can’t use your phone on the TTC

Hello. This is the Wednesday, September 28 edition of First Up, the Star’s daily morning digest. Sign up to get it earlier every day, in your inbox.

Here’s the latest on TTC cell service, rents exceeding monthly homeownership costs, and benefits for « precarious » workers.


Why can’t TTC riders use their cell phones on the subway? Ask Bell, Rogers or Telus

Here’s a fun fact: the TTC is wired to allow commuters to use their cell service and The data. A company was hired 10 years ago to make sure. So why is metro connectivity nearly impossible? Canada’s big three telecom providers have so far refused to connect to the network that built the infrastructure. Here’s what we know about what’s stopping the tech giants from participating.

  • Wait what? « The infrastructure is in place for all mobility service providers in Canada to operate on the TTC infrastructure and we welcome them, » said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green.
  • Good news for: Freedom Mobile users, who have had access to cellular and 4G service on the TTC since 2015. Freedom was the only operator to sign up.
  • Bad news for: Three big customers. Rogers and Telus did not respond to repeated questions. A Bell spokesperson said in an email that the telecoms would prefer to build their own infrastructure in the TTC.

In many neighborhoods, not owning a home now costs more than owning one

Home ownership is out of reach for many, but renting is not an affordable alternative. A Star analysis of new census data reveals that renters in several Toronto-area neighborhoods spend, on average, more on their monthly housing bills than owners. Costs are rising for both, but one census tract in Midtown paints a clear picture of the depth of the housing crisis weighing on renters: Where a landlord spent $2,112 on average in 2016, renters have paid $1,650. Now homeowners pay $2,650 there while renters pay $2,725. Take a closer look at the disparities in the GTA.

  • The context: Housing bills include mortgage payments, rent, property taxes, condo fees, and utilities, if applicable.
  • Go further: Advocates, planners and others in the housing sphere say the change is making it harder for renters to access homeownership.

You don’t have benefits? Ontario wants to change that – but critics fear it will come at a cost

The Ontario government has launched public consultations on a benefits plan for millions of “precarious” workers, including those in the gig economy, hospitality and retail. The plan, which would track workers, has already gained attention for its potential to provide much-needed support where there are gaps for workers, but some people also worry that workers could end up covering costs that should are the responsibility of their employers. Here’s what we know.

  • By the numbers: About 25% of Ontario workers have no social security coverage.
  • To watch: Public consultations will end on December 16. By next summer, a panel of experts will report on how the plan should be structured and funded, Ontario’s labor minister said.



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Residents stay inside their homes flooded by Super Typhoon Noru on Monday in San Ildefonso, Bulacan Province, Philippines.

PHILIPPINES: Residents stay inside their homes flooded by Super Typhoon Noru on Monday in San Ildefonso, Bulacan province. High winds and heavy rains flattened villages and increased the threat of landslides. At least five people have died.

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