Toronto rent prices soar past homeownership costs, why you can’t use your phone on the TTC

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

Here’s the latest on TTC cell service, rents soaring past monthly homeownership costs and benefits for “precarious” workers.


Why can’t TTC riders use their cellphones 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 dates. A company was hired 10 years ago to make sure of it. So why is connectivity on the subway virtually impossible? Canada’s big three telecom providers have so far refused to sign on 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 any and all of Canada’s mobility service providers to operate on the TTC’s infrastructure and we welcome them,” TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said.
  • Good news for: Freedom Mobile users, who have had access to cell service and 4G on the TTC since 2015. Freedom has been the only carrier to sign on.
  • Bad news for: Big Three clients. Rogers and Telus did not respond to repeated questions. A Bell spokesperson said in an email the telecom would prefer to build its own infrastructure in the TTC.

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

Homeownership is out of reach for many — but renting is no affordable alternative. A Star analysis of new census data finds that tenants in several Toronto-area neighborhoods are spending, on average, more on their monthly housing bills than homeowners are. Costs are going up for both, but one census tract in Midtown paints a clear picture of just how heavily the housing crisis is weighing on renters: where a homeowner spent $2,112 on average in 2016, renters paid $1,650. Now, homeowners there are paying $2,650 while renters pay $2,725. Take a closer look at the disparities across the GTA.

  • context: Housing bills include mortgage payments, rent, property taxes, condo fees and utilities, where applicable.
  • go deeper: Advocates, planners and others in the housing sphere say the shift is making it harder for renters to move into home ownership.

Don’t have benefits? Ontario wants to change that — but critics worry it’ll come at a cost

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

  • By the numbers: About 25 per cent of Ontario workers have no benefits coverage.
  • Watch for: Public consultations will end on Dec. 16. By next summer, an expert panel will report on how the plan should be structured and funded, Ontario’s labor minister said.


Activist Forouzan Farahani shaves her head in protest over the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran outside The New York Times building in New York on Tuesday.


The Star rated each of Toronto's best-known grocery delivery services on speed, value, accuracy and ease of use to see which one came out on top.

Which grocery delivery service is best? The Star put several to the test and found a clear winner.


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 have flattened villages and increased the threat of landslides. At least five people have died.

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