Today a coalition of more than 70 Toronto community leaders, groups, and organizations urged Mayor John Tory and City Council to demonstrate what it means to build a budget that is for all people, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Read the full text of their open letter below.
Dear Mayor and Council members,
We are encouraged to see Council united in the face of an onslaught of provincial budget cuts and wish to express our support for your efforts to reverse them. Though the Province has decided to reverse the cuts for 2019, it seems that we will be facing deep cuts again in 2020.
We are gravely concerned that these provincial cuts will further worsen inequities already growing day by day in our city.
The continued need for a budget that moves the city in the right direction is even more urgent in the current context. We urge Council to demonstrate leadership by ensuring the 2020 budget is not balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.
As it addresses the pending funding crisis, we would like to see Council position itself to better respond to the needs of Torontonians by:
- taking decisive action to increase revenue, and
- shifting budget allocations to highest-priority areas based on thorough and robust implementation of the City’s equity lens. We urge Council to strengthen its application of an intersectional, gender-equity lens as a foundational pillar of the budget.
We have previously asked City Council to use revenue tools (in addition to the Land Transfer Tax) to generate more money to pay for necessary programs. In addition, Torontonians pay the lowest property taxes in the GTA. City consultations — the Core Service Review in 2011 and the Long-term Financial Plan — have shown that many residents favour a modest tax increase when the alternative is reduced services or continued deprivation. Adopting new revenue tools and increasing existing property tax rates are prudent and responsible moves made more urgent by the looming provincial cuts.
We also ask Council to assign value and priority to certain program areas within the budget instead of asking staff to freeze budgets or make across-the-board cuts. Some Divisions’ budgets should increase while others decrease according to yearly priorities. Housing, shelter, health, child care, and transit affect daily life for Torontonians and must be given priority. Other divisional needs may have to take a back seat to minimize the repercussions of the Province’s cuts.
In the last month we have seen the provincial government cut programs and make regulatory changes designed to help the wealthiest prosper on the backs of the most vulnerable. This is likely to continue through the next three years.
Toronto must do better. Now is the time for the City to demonstrate what it means to build a budget that is for all people.
We pledge our support to work with you in this endeavour. We would also be happy to work collaboratively with the City to amplify advocacy with the Province.
Together we can build a city where all people can thrive and prosper. We look forward to working with you.
The Anglican Diocese of Toronto's Social Justice and Advocacy Committee
Abdul Hai Patel, Ansaar Foundation
Nasima Akter, Executive Director, Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services
Enrique Roberts, Executive Director, Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre
Bread & Bricks Davenport West Social Justice Group
Feroza Mohammed, Local Champion, Centre for Connected Communities
Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter
Sherman Hesselgrave, Church of the Holy Trinity
Colour of Poverty–Colour of Change
Adina Lebo, Co-Chair, Commitment TO Community
Samya Hasan, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
The David Suzuki Foundation
The Dream Team
East Scarborough Storefront
Shirley Bush, Fairlawn Avenue United Church
Kathy Salisbury, Social Justice Chair, Fairlawn Avenue United Church
Cam Watts, Co-Chair, Faith in the City
John Ryerson, Co-Chair, Faith in the City
Margaret Hancock, Executive Director, Family Service Toronto
Friends Helping People End Poverty
Health Providers Against Poverty – Ontario Chapter
Houselink Community Homes
Wanda McNevin, Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre
Labour Community Services
The Neighbourhood Group
Ryan Noble, Executive Director, North York Harvest Food Bank
John Stapleton, Open Policy Ontario
Melissa Goldstein, Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust and Housing Action Now
Myer Siemiatycki, Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University
Brenda Thompson, Scarborough Transit Action
Social Planning Toronto
Lynn Baskin, Chief Executive Officer, South Riverdale Community Health Centre
Bill Sinclair, Executive Director, St. Stephen's Community House
Rachel Gray, Executive Director, The Stop
Jane Mercer, Executive Coordinator, Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care
Toronto Drop-In Network
Emmay Mah, Executive Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance
Toronto Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Toronto Neighbourhood Centres
Anna Willats, member, Toronto Police Accountability Coalition
Brendan Haley, Vice President, Toronto Public Library Workers Union (TPLWU Local 4948)
Leona Rodall, Executive Director, Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre
Maureen Fair, Executive Director, West Neighbourhood House
Working for Change
Angie Peters, President and Chief Executive Office, Yonge Street Mission
Heather McGregor, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Toronto
Joe Abbey-Colborne, faith leader
John Argue, former community legal clinic worker
Tina Conlon, community minister
Cathy Crowe, street nurse and visiting practitioner, Ryerson University
Karima Ladhani, Scarborough Centre constituent
Bee Lee Soh
Emily Paradis, research consultant