An event sponsored by the Canadian Black Caucas put Toronto’s “priority neighbourhoods” on the mayoral debate agenda for the first time, with audience members asking candidates how to improve life in those areas.

Rob Ford and George Smitherman were on hand for Saturday’s debate, which tackled jobs, youths and making city hall more accessible.

Many audience members asked candidates to address the 13 neighbourhoods the United Way has highlighted as being most in need of social initiatives.

Ford talked about the trades being viable job opportunities, saying that 250 of the 300 employees at his personal printing company were “visible minorities” making “$80,000 to $90,000 a year.”

Smitherman made much of the ongoing Regent Park revitalization, pointing to 40 apprenticeship positions with the developer as a successful job-creation model.

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