Advocacy for a better budget


Joint Statement

More than a decade of austerity budgets have left the City of Toronto ill-equipped to respond to multiple and mounting crises — in housing and homelessness, food security, mental health and addictions, child care, transit, and so much more. 

On February 17, Toronto City Council votes on a "status quo" budget that does little to turn the tide.

On Februry 16, 59 organizations working with Toronto communities made an urgent call to Mayor John Tory and City Councillors to not only invest in the 2022 City budget to address the crises in our city, but also to reimagine the budget process, making it accessible, transparent, democratic, participatory, and equitable.

Read our full statement here.


SPT and many partner organizations are hard at work on the 2022 City budget. Each year, we work with communities to increase understanding of the City budget, engage residents to support civic engagement, and advocate for a better budget to improve life in Toronto.

Check out the video and slides from our virtual Budget Town Hall on January 18 to learn how the draft 2022 budget invests in vital services like housing, childcare, community services & transit, and where it’s falling short. A panel of excellent speakers and residents shared wonderful ideas to take action for a better, bolder budget! 

We're continuing to strategize with multiple organizations to collectively influence the budget before Council's final budget vote on February 17, and exploring our longer-term goals around the budget process and city-building outcomes. If you'd like to join the coalition, contact Senior Community Planner Israt Ahmed, [email protected]

A sampling of budget asks

For more deputations and written submissions, visit Toronto City Council on YouTube. The Budget and Executive Committees held meetings and budget consultations in late January; to listen to deputations, click on the recording of any meeting, and to see written submissions click on the "Agenda and background materials" link below the video, then click on "Agenda," then scroll down to the “Communications” sections below agenda items.


  • Our Executive Director, Jin Huh, deputed before the Budget Committee on January 25, calling for acceleration of delayed, but urgent, initiatives to tackle poverty (e.g., the Fair Pass) and the right to housing (e.g., the Housing Commissioner). Read her deputation here.

  • On January 20, we held a "Community Dialogue" event, in the spirit of our 2021 People's Budget platform. Residents of neighbourhoods often underserved and underrepresented in policy and program decisions shared their key budget demands and requests around pressing community needs. Watch/listen to residents' presentations below, and read the summary we sent to the Budget Committee here. 

    In an online poll during the event, affordable housing, the re-allocation of police funding into social services, and poverty reduction were the most-represented budget asks.

    Guest speakers Sam Tecle from Jane & Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) and Anna Lipmann from Stand Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) spoke to defunding the Toronto Police Service by 50%. Both stressed, however, that defunding the police is not a budget issue, but a question of re-imagining community safety to build thriving and safe communities for all. Watch Sam's presentation here, and Anna's here.

  • Toronto Star reporter Jennifer Pagliaro noted that, "Over two days of the public presenting their concerns, hopes and demands to Toronto's budget committee this week, one thing emerged as a clear priority: Defund the police." Read her story collecting those voices here. (Note: article is paywalled)

  • The Toronto Police Accountability Coalition has called for the 2022 police service operating budget to end suspension with full pay, dispense with two officers in a car after dark, institute pre-charge screening, begin disarming rank and file officers, begin de-tasking, and disband the mounted unit. Read their letter to the Budget Committee here.

  • The No Pride in Policing Coalition, a multi-racial, antiracist, queer, and trans group focused on defunding and abolishing the police, opposes any increase in the police budget and calls for at least a 50% defunding of the Toronto Police Service. Read the deputation by Beverly Bain and Gary Kinsman here.
  • On January 26, we and allies Progress Toronto, Toronto Community Benefits Network, Toronto Environmental Alliance, and Toronto ACORN submitted a joint statement to the Executive Committee, urging them to approve a motion (EX29.9: Budgeting for the City of Toronto’s Future) from Councillors Wong-Tam and Perks that would see Council return to the pre–Rob Ford practice of a determining budget needs — outstanding Council-approved budget requests, operational costs, and capital improvements — before setting the tax-supported budget. The motion would also see Council consider new revenue tools (such as a vehicle registration tax, sales tax, etc.) to meet budgetary needs. Read the motion here and our submission here.

    • ClimateFast Co-Chair Lyn Adamson also deputed on this motion, asking the Budget Committee to commit all the financial resources required to create the planning, policy, and revenue tools to support the rapid implementation of the TransformTO plan to bring GHG emissions in Toronto to Net Zero by 2040. Read Lyn's deputation here. 

    • At the Executive Committee's January 26 meeting, Councillor Denzil Minnon-Wong moved a motion to defer the item "sine die" — meaning without setting a date to reconvene. The Committee immediately went to a vote on the motion, and it passed unanimously. No recorded vote. No plans to bring this motion back. 

  • The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) is calling for greater investment in transportation and investment in greening buildings; for transparency, accountability, and opportunities for public participation in the budget process; and for robust and sustained funding for climate action. Read Climate Specialist Kathryn Tait's deputation here.

  • Etobicoke Climate Action co-founder Brian MacLean called for Council to limit urban sprawl by allowing more gentle density in low-density areas such as Etobicoke, increase TTC service and replace gas-powered buses with electric buses, support “nature-based solutions” to reducing GHGs (e.g., parks and ravines, tree planting, food and pollinator gardens), and adopt a Carbon Budget that would assess City carbon spending and emissions. Member Carol Essex also called on Council to act now (with the other levels of government) to fully fund and implement Transform TO. Read Brian's deputation here, and read Carol's here.

  • Drawdown Toronto also urged Council to fully fund Transform TO, and to retrofit residential and commercial buildings, address food waste, and manage refrigerants. Read their deputation here.

  • The Shelter and Housing Justice Network (SHJN) has 10 demands to address the collapse of Toronto's shelter system. SHJN has also produced a digital toolkit for anyone community members who want to take digital or in-person action to pressure the City to step up and invest in the crumbling shelter system. Access both here.

  • Toronto ACORN is demanding the City put money into protecting tenants, and preserving affordable housing. You can support their campaign in a few seconds on their website.

  • The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) wants more enforcement officers hired for the RentSafeTO program, which is meant to maintain property standards across the city, and more City resources dedicated to eviction prevention programs for Toronto’s most vulnerable tenant population. Read Manager of Policy, Communications and Engagement Bahar Shadpour's deputation here.

  • Progress Toronto is pushing Council to redirect millions from the Toronto Police Service to the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition Program (MURA), a powerful program that can help stop renovictions and permanently hold onto the affordable housing we have left. Learn more and take action here. Join their Day of Action on Affordable Housing on Saturday, February 12. Learn more and sign up here.

  • Progress Toronto is also campaigning to end fines at Toronto Public Libraries, which TPL says “have become a barrier to the use of library services.” The TPL Board has requested funding to end fines, but the funding is not included in the City Budget. Learn more and sign the petition here.

  • Toronto Drop-In Network (TDIN) is seeking increased core funding for drop-ins, and public funding for basic hygiene supplies:
    • Manager Susan Bender spoke to the Budget Committee about a wide range of issues, not least of which is the need for a minimum $500,000 increase to sustain service. Only half of their drop-ins receive City funding, and these 28 sites share $7.57 million in funding. Read Susan's deputation here.
    • Training and Engagement Coordinator Diana Chan McNally spoke to the need for a specific budgetary allocation to purchase menstrual and incontinence supplies for the thousands of gender-diverse drop-in participants who menstruate and those living with incontinence. Read Diana's deputation here. Diana and palliative care physician Naheed Dosani argued that access to these supplies is not a luxury but a fundamental right that must be publicly funded in a Toronto Star Op-Ed. Read it here. 
    • Learn more about TDIN's budget asks in this Twitter thread.

  • The Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre has requested increased funding for its Creating Health Plus (CH+) program — which delivers healthy and fresh food items to 30 Toronto drop-ins each week — to ensure the program’s survival. Read CH+ coordinator Sahar Qassem's deputation here. 

  • Toronto and York Region Labour Council has asked Council to value work, workers, delivery of quality public services, and the communities that workers live in. Read Executive Assistant Susan McMurray's deputation here. 

  • TTCriders says the proposed Budget fails low-wage, essential workers because the Fair Pass, a promised transit discount, has been left out while service cuts continue to impact riders. Read their press release here and their open letter calling on Council and TTC Board members to invest in affordable transit for a fair pandemic recovery here.

  • The 519 is demanding actions to respond to Toronto's drug poisoning crisis. Read Executive Director Maura Lawless' deputation here.

  • With research showing most food bank clients have less than $10/day to cover their costs after rent and utilities, Daily Bread Food Bank is calling for supports to address the immediate needs of low-income households (including fully implementing the TTC Fair Pass program without further delay) and for investments to build system resiliency through structural change. Listen to CEO Neil Hetherington's Budget Committee deputation here.

  • The Toronto Community for Better Child Care (TCBCC) is looking for more flexibility in how per diems for child care centres can be spent to prevent the loss of any child care programs. In addition to child care, the organization is concerned with transit and housing for the highly-feminized, radicalized child care workforce and for families. Listen to TCBCC Executive Coordinator Abbie Doris here.

  • YWCA Toronto is raising concerns about the many inequities facing women during COVID and urging the City to provide greater investment in rent relief measures, the TTC Fair Pass, and housing programs. Read Manager of Advocacy Sami Pritchard's deputation to the Budget Committee here.
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