Soundbites e-Bulletin July 21,2011

Soundbites e-Bulletin
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Contents

1. Core Service Review Suggests Eliminating or Reducing Community Grants
2. July 29 SPT Research and Policy Forum
3. SPT Member Forum on Social Assistance Review
4. Worth Repeating: A Poverty Free Ontario
5. News from our Partners
6. Get Involved in Social Planning Toronto
7. About Social Planning Toronto

1. Core Service Review Suggests Eliminating or Reducing Community Grants

Toronto community organizations and residents have their first opportunity to respond to the proposed elimination or reduction of community grants by making a deputation to City Executive Committee on July 28, 2011. Today, city-hired consultants KPMG have suggested reducing or eliminating the Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP). CPIP funding serves Toronto’s most vulnerable communities, including youth, women, seniors, racialized people, homeless & low-income people, disabled people, LGBTQ people and many others.

The community programs funded by CPIP make a real difference in enhancing the lives of Toronto residents. These programs help vulnerable people find familiarity, comfort and a sense of community in Toronto, enhancing mental health, promoting safety, preventing disease, providing healthy food & reducing isolation. Communities served through these programs enhance their sense of belonging and commitment to the city and in turn volunteer their time and energy to build the city of Toronto. In addition, every $1 the city invests in community organizations leverages up to $10 in other funds that flow into communities - funds from other levels of government, donations from individuals, and resources from the private sector.

It’s time for volunteers, program participants, funders, faith leaders, small businesses & all other supporters of these community programs to Speak Up for our City! Here’s what you can do:
1. Register in advance to depute to Executive Committee on July 28, 2011 at 9:30 am at City Hall about the value of programs delivered through CPIP’s community grants. To register, email: exc@toronto.ca or Call: 416-392-6627 by July 27, 2011 at 4 pm.

First time deputing? Follow this step-by-step How-to guide to plan your deputation:
http://commitment2community.org/?p=237.

If you can’t depute in person, you can submit your comments in writing to exc@toronto.ca and copy the City Manager as well at talktocitymanager@toronto.ca.

We’d be grateful if you would send a copy of your deputation to: c2c@socialplanningtoronto.org.

2. Call your City Councillor and express your concerns about the impacts of cutting programs and services in your community. Visit this link for City Councillors’ contact info & to find your Councillor by typing in your address: http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp

3. Join a C2C Ward Team in your community! C2C is working to support communities across Toronto to get organized in their own ward. This is a great way to share concerns in your neighbourhood, build strength in your community, and ensure that your voice is heard at City Hall. Visit www.commitment2community.org for more information.

4. Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about what is at stake in Toronto and encourage them to get involved in C2C and speak up for our city. Bring a friend to the next meeting/event & ask them to sign up for our mailing list to get important updates like this one: http://commitment2community.org/?p=44

13,000 Torontonians filled out the City’s Core Service Review survey. The majority of those surveyed said that they were not in favour of cutting Toronto’s services and were willing to pay for programs with increased taxes. However members of the Executive Committee have rejected their own survey results as “not statistically valid”(http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1023213--hume-cuts-loom-as-budget-season-kicks-off?bn=1). None of this bodes well for us as we try to protect vital city services. The Mayor is considering mass layoffs at City Hall (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/layoffs-not-ruled-out-as-city-has-thousands-too-many-employees-mayor-ford-says/article2094746/). He, and the majority of Councillors refused to accept two new public health nurses from the province – despite the fact there is no cost to the city;
(http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/1022365--don-t-reject-public-health-nurses). The Mayor’s lack of support for the City’s community grants programs was shown when he was the sole member of Council to vote to cut grants in 2011.
http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1023558--mayor-ford-votes-against-all-community-grants.

You can access the KPMG Report which identifies the opportunity to cut the CPIP program at http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2011/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-39626.pdf

2. “What does good civic engagement look like?” – July 29 SPT Research and Policy Forum

On June 22nd the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) passed a motion that could transform the Board’s budget process over the coming years. Trustee Chris Glover (Ward 2) proposed a motion that would see the Board commit to a participatory budget process for the next budget cycle. It passed.

The TDSB has been experiencing a systemic funding shortfall ever since amalgamation in 1998 and is currently covering the cost of $176 million in programs and activities not funded by the Ministry of Education (these programs include: special education, English as a Second Language and learning opportunities for students living in poverty) . The TDSB has long been the most participatory level of government in the Toronto area with students, parents and community members engaged in decision making through school councils, ward councils, parent and student forums, advisory committees, community meetings, as well as the democratic election of two Student Trustees. Public participation in budget process will continue the TDSB’s commitment to citizenship education as the board helps to develop the community’s capacity to take part in democratic decision-making through its community engagement strategies.

On Friday, July 29, 2011 9:30-noon, please join us for Social Planning Toronto’s July Research and Policy Forum: Community at the Centre of Policy-Making: What Does Meaningful Civic Engagement Look Like? The participatory process with the City and the TDSB will be explored as speakers Israt Ahmed, Chris Glover, and Marc Piccinato examine the question: “What does good civic engagement look like?”

Come learn more and bring your ideas!

All are welcome but registration is required as space is limited. Register online (click here to register online) or by contacting Lisa at lnho@socialplanningtoronto.org or call (416) 351-0095 x227

3. Over 100 participate in SPT Member Forum on Social Assistance Review

On Thursday July 14 Social Planning Toronto hosted a session for the Social Assistance Review Commission. Over a hundred people, largely SPT members from all over the city, the community support sector and the community at large came to provide their input for the commission. The input was comprehensive and wide ranging and provide an abundance of information for the commission to consider. The responses were visibly well-received by the two commissioners, Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh.

Those present dealt with the five topics selected by the commission's initial report. The initial report had identified the primary social assistance concerns as issues of: the necessary supports and expectations associated with access to employment; the ease of navigating the system; the appropriateness of benefits provided; the long-term viability of the system; and the integration of the Ontario system with other orders of government. Each issue saw multiple conversations with diverse opinions clearly a reflection of the wealth of experience in the room.Some highlights of the discussion include a focus on centralizing the dignity of social assistance recipients in efforts to reform the system. Concern was also raised with the over-emphasis on return to employment, especially given the continuing effects of the recession.
This forum came in response to a discussion paper released in June as part the Social Assistance review process. More community conversations will continue into September with draft suggestions for the
reform of social assistance to be released by the end of the year. For more information on the Commission and its work, see http://www.socialassistancereview.ca/home.

4. Worth Repeating: Poverty Free Ontario – An Option in the Provincial Election

“Poverty Free Ontario,” an initiative of the Social Planning Network of Ontario, is producing a series of bulletins in the lead-up to the October 6 Provincial election. Here is an excerpt from Bulletin #4…

Fiscal Options for a Poverty Free Ontario

In 2010, when questioned by supporters of the Put Food in the Budget (PFIB) campaign about where the $100 a month Healthy Food Supplement (HFS) was in the Ontario Government’s agenda, Finance Minister Duncan offered “everything is on the radar but we have to know how to pay for it”.

PFIB supporters and leaders on the Poverty Free Ontario initiative in communities across the
province need to be prepared with some arguments about the inevitable questions on how to
finance the kinds of proposals for which we are advocating, even though we realize that the
basic issue remains the inequitable sharing of the great wealth that exists in this province and
country. On March 10, Anglican Bishop Linda Nichols reminded us of that. Speaking at a PFIB
public event at Queen’s Park after a meeting with Finance Minister Duncan, Bishop Nichols said: “We don’t accept the argument that Ontario can’t afford to help the poor. That’s a morally bankrupt position. We live in a wealthy society.”

Poverty Elimination is “Self?financing” Over Time

We know that allowing people to live in poverty costs our healthcare system in Ontario about
$2.9 billion annually (OAFB Cost of Poverty Report, 2008), which is about 18% of the 2011 Ontario deficit.

Research at the University of Toronto by Ernie Lightman, Andrew Mitchell and Beth Wilson tells us that a $1,000 increase in annual income to the poorest fifth of households in Ontario will
result in 10,000 fewer chronic conditions an 6,600 fewer disability days lost at work every two weeks (Poverty Is Making Us Sick, 2008). Notably, PFIB’s proposed Healthy Food Supplement
(HFS) would provide $1200 in increased annual income to social assistance recipients, which would produce the scale of savings to the healthcare system noted above by the U of T study.

Since health is one of the Ontario Government’s priorities, the personal as well as the economic benefits should put the HFS on the government’s radar. Since there are almost600,000 adults currently on social assistance, this would cost about $700 million. This is a very high caseload because of the recent recession and would be expected to come down as the economic recovery helps more recipients leave the system.

For the complete text, go to http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/2011/07/14/pfo-bulletin-4-fiscal-options-for-a-poverty-free-ontario/.
News From Our Partners

Wellbeing Toronto Launched

Wellbeing Toronto is a new web-based measurement and visualization tool that helps evaluate community wellbeing across the city's 140 neighbourhoods. Using geographic information software, Wellbeing Toronto allows users to select, combine and weight the significance of a number of indicators that monitor neighbourhood wellness. The results appear instantly on easy to read maps, tables and graphs. This free tool supports decision making and seeks to engage citizens and businesses in understanding the challenges and opportunities of creating and maintaining healthy neighbourhoods.

Wellbeing Toronto is located on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/wellbeing. The available data has been collected from a variety of internal and external sources, including several City Divisions, Statistics Canada, Agencies, Boards and Commissions and other NGOs. Users will have access to City operational metrics data such as fire, crime, voter participation, local employment, recreation program registrants, health and social services; socio-demographics information including age, sex, income and education; and infrastructure service data such as the locations of recreation centres, police stations, parks, libraries and schools.
"Working Rough, Living Poor - Employment & Income Insecurities Faced by Racialized Groups & their Impacts on Health"
This report by the Income Security, Race and Health research working group established by Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services reveals how racialized people are being pushed into protracted conditions of precarious and ‘temp’ jobs, and how existing employment training services and job search supports often prove ineffective. The study also clearly illustrates the everyday pathways through which these employment and income insecurity challenges damage health within these groups. “Working Rough, Living Poor” is the result of research conducted in Toronto’s Black Creek community in collaboration with local residents trained to be community-based researchers by Access Alliance. The report’s new insights into the disturbing racialization of precarious employment and poverty in Canadian communities and the far-reaching health impact that these trends have on individuals and families, fills a key gap in data on the experiences of racialized groups in Canada. Below, you will also find 4 links to stand-alone research bulletins that complement the key themes of the Working Rough, Living Poor report. Click here for the Working Rough Living Poor report.
Click here for the set of related Research Bulletins -
Research Bulletin 1: Labour Market Challenges and Discrimination faced by Racialized Groups in the Black Creek Area
Research Bulletin 2: Health Impacts of Employment and Income Insecurity faced by Racialized Groups
Research Bulletin 3: Neighbourhood, Discrimination and Health: Critical Perspectives of Racialized Residents from the Black Creek Area
Research Bulletin 4: Strategies for Employment, Income and Health Security: Critical Examination of Policies and Services

Toronto Teachers Launch Initiative for Better Schools

Inspired by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Building Better Schools Agenda (www.etfo.ca), the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) has developed the Community Education Action Plan (CEAP) to engage parents and communities in an open-ended discussion about what Toronto’s schools need to be the best they can be. In different venues, including outdoor barbecues and public forums teachers, parents and community members will exchange views on resource needs, promoting educational opportunity and inclusion, parent involvement and the role of community schools.

The project is also animated by the conviction that teachers and students will benefit from greater involvement of parents and communities in shaping the role of community schools. In a climate of fiscal restraint, teachers are increasingly looking to parents and the public to actively support the public school system. “I think there is a growing feeling that parent and community involvement is the key to building better schools .” said teacher and project coordinator Anna Jessup. Whether it’s lobbying and voting for the resources we need to do our jobs as teachers or re-imagining our schools as community hubs, it all depends on active and informed parent and community involvement.” The next CEAP event is a Barbecue and Education Forum, Scarborough Civic Centre (Scarborough Town Centre) Sunday, July 24, 12-3pm. For more information, contact Nigel Barriffe at (416) 427-1192 nigelbarriffe@yahoo.ca or James Wardlaw at (416) 461-9233
Wellesley Institute: Multicultural Youth Voices: Neighbourhood, Health and Well-Being
In the summer of 2009 and 2010, 21 multi-cultural youth from St. James Town completed a Photovoice project and disseminated their findings in a community forum that attracted the attention of news media. The goal of the arts-based project was to investigate the impact of neighbourhood on youth health and well-being. Using photography and storytelling, the youth delivered a striking account of their personal experiences and beliefs regarding various neighbourhood and community issues that impact their lives. Some very interesting themes emerged, such as the importance of green and public spaces in their largely concrete neighbourhood, and the youth’s keen interest in collective community efforts for creating change.
St. James Town Initiative: Multicultural Youth Voices project has yielded three new publications and and a video.
A detailed background on neighbourhood effects on immigrant youth health and an analysis of the major themes to emerge from the Youth Photovoice research project is now available in the Multicultural Youth Voice report. The report features photographs taken by the youth and quotes from their stories about their neighbourhood.
A summary policy brief identifying potential policy actions arising from the Youth Photovoice research findings is also available. This policy brief is the first in a series and provides a glimpse into key policy directions that will be detailed in several issue-focused policy briefs to follow.
The Urban and Open Spaces fact sheet provides a quick description of the key channels through which urban neighbourhoods impact the health and well-being of multicultural youth. The Introduction to St. James Town video is an extension of the Multicultural Youth Voices project . Filmed by three youths from St. James Town and featuring commentary by some of the research participants, this video reflects the opinions and experiences of newcomer youth in St. James Town. Download our new report here.

5. Get Involved in Social Planning Toronto
Your membership and support enables us to be a more effective resource and voice for the non-profit community sector in Toronto.
2011 is an important year for the community sector in Toronto. Your organizational or individual membership in Social Planning Toronto strengthens our voice.
As a member you are entitled to:
• Voting privileges at the SPT Annual General Meeting.
• Agency listing and linking on SPT's website.
• Participation in SPT Member Forums.
Your support helps us to:
• Strengthen the voice of local communities across the city.
• Increase our capacity to engage in social policy research, analysis and advocacy for communities and the organizations that serve them.
• Maintain our role as an independent voice for positive change in Toronto.
For more information on membership, please visit www.socialplanningtoronto.org/get-involved/
To enquire about membership, please call Mary at (416) 351-0095 ex 251 or email mmicallef@socialplanningtoronto.org

7. About Social Planning Toronto
For more than fifty years, SPT and its predecessor organizations have served as a vital voice for the non-profit community sector in Toronto – conducting research and supporting community mobilization that has made a real difference for our organizations, our communities, and the most vulnerable residents in our city.
OUR MISSION
Social Planning Toronto is committed to building a civic society: one in which diversity, equity, social and economic justice, interdependence and active civic participation are central to all aspects of our lives - in our families, neighbourhoods, voluntary and recreational activities, at work and in politics.
OUR ROLE
• Convenor of social research, often in collaboration with other non-profit organizations and academic institutions.
• Mobilizer of community resources to improve equity, inclusivity, and the quality of life in the City of Toronto.
• Advocate with policy makers for improved social and economic conditions.
• Resource for action-oriented research, policy analysis, and community planning, in support of community priorities.

Social Planning Toronto funders include:
________________________________________

© Copyright 2016 Social Planning Toronto. All rights reserved.