TORONTO – A new study looking at Ontario’s quality of life and well-being released Tuesday revealed what many Greater Toronto Area residents probably already know, that those living in and around Toronto have the longest commute times in the province.
The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) indicates GTA residents average about an hour getting to and from work each day.
“Those living in Toronto commute 65.6 minutes, those in Oshawa 63.6 minutes, and Barrie residents commute 59.2 minutes,” read the first Ontario-focused CIW study titled “How Are Ontarians Really Doing?”
The report, commissioned by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), comes a day after drivers saw the Gardiner Expressway reduced to two lanes between the Humber River and Strachan Avenue for a revitalization project to last the next two years.
Whether travelling by bus, train or car, the study says commute times for Ontario workers increased from an average of 47.1 minutes in 1994 to 53.5 minutes in 2010 — leaving people chronically crunched for time.
“This 6.4 minute difference represents an 11.9% increase in the amount of time people spend travelling back and forth to work,” the report said.
“While an increase of six to seven minutes commuting per day might not seem like much, over a typical work-year, it represents an additional 27 hours of commuting.”
WATCH: Traffic on the Gardiner Expressway continues at a crawl following lane closures on the busy stretch of highway
Furthermore, the study goes on to say that smaller increases in commute times still have significant impacts on the well-being of working Ontarians with economic, social, and environmental costs.
“It increases stress among commuters, reduces time available for other valued activities, and reduces business productivity.”
However, employees who report more flexible work hours often find a stronger link between “work-life balance and greater satisfaction with life as a whole.”
“Having access to flexible work hours may allow commuters to avoid the rush hour when traffic is congested and commute time increases.”
In one subsection of the CIW report, a “broader and more coordinated public transit system” in Ontario is advised to help alleviate some of pressures associated with commute times.
This includes developing a transit policy focused on accessibility, reinvesting more federal tax dollars into transit infrastructure and working with all three levels of government to “fill critical gaps” in transportation networks.
The study says one in five Ontarians feel caught in a “time crunch” that negatively impacts “community vitality and our overall health.”