PUBLIC SPACE for PUBLIC USE A Review of Community Access to School and Municipal Facilities in Ontario
Where we live and what opportunities are available in our community impacts how we identify with and experience the world around us. Healthy and vibrant neighbourhoods foster a sense of belonging and safety, and promote overall positive physical and mental health among residents. When welcoming places exist and opportunities are provided in neighbourhoods that encourage people to come together, we witness the creation of ideas, the building of trust, and the development of resilience. Publicly funded assets, such as schools and municipal facilities, are important places where people can gather together and build stronger neighbourhoods. Imagine these spaces: diverse groups sharing stories about their cultures; children learning to cook while developing their math skills; and parents uniting to improve the quality of life for their children and the community.
Accessing community programs and services for non-status immigrants in Toronto: Organizational challenges and responses
Non-status residents who live and work in Toronto face a number of barriers in accessing critical health, legal, housing and employment services that place them at greater risk of poverty and poor health and make them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Recent changes to federal immigration policy have made it increasingly difficult for newcomers to acquire permanent immigration status, forcing people to live and work in constant fear of detention and deportation while they navigate the Canadian immigration system. Although non-status residents contribute to the economy through their labour and help fund social programs through sales and property tax dollars, they are denied access to a number of government funded programs and services.
It All Begins with Space Maximizing use of public assets for engaged and healthier neighbourhoods in Toronto
In the City of Toronto, while government agencies and institutions struggle under fiscal constraint and to manage growth, residents, businesses, government workers and non-profit organizations come together to make Toronto a healthier, welcoming and more vibrant place to live. A key component of neighbourhood infrastructure is safe public places for people to come together: whether to celebrate, discuss neighbourhood needs or priorities, integrate into Toronto’s social fabric or to volunteer and be part of building their community. In our schools and municipal spaces this can also mean greater parental involvement, greater engagement from children and youth, increased readiness to learn and more positive educational outcomes for children and youth.
At the end of February 2013, Social Planning Toronto initiated a short survey to better understand the experiences and perspectives of Toronto shelter providers regarding access to shelter for people who are homeless. We have contacted 55 shelters from the City of Toronto’s website.
This bulletin provides preliminary results from 12 community organizations operating 15 shelters, including 10 emergency shelters, 3 violence against women (VAW) shelters, 1 transitional shelter, and 1 out of the cold program. Participating shelters included those operating in the downtown core and the inner suburbs.
In early 2009, Social Planning Toronto (SPT), in collaboration with the City‐Wide Agency Network and Toronto Neighbourhood Centres (TNC), conducted a survey of social service agencies and community organizations in Toronto. The purpose of this survey was two‐fold. First, to provide both TNC and the City‐Wide Agency Network with an updated collective “footprint” of their respective member agencies (i.e. geographic service areas, number of service locations throughout the city, number of individuals served, types programs and services offered, etc.) – important and useful information for conversations with funders, government, and the broader public. The second purpose was to provide current Toronto information regarding employment practices and human resource policies, particularly in the area of employee benefits, for member organizations of the two groups.
The Toronto Bulletin presents local results from A Recovery-free Zone, a one-year province-wide follow-up survey conducted by the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) on the impact of the economic downturn on nonprofit community social service agencies in Ontario. The Toronto Story – A Summary One hundred and nine Toronto agencies took part in the 2010 follow-up survey. Demand Rising
• 56.3% of agencies reported mostly an increase in service demand over the past 12 months
o 87.9% of these agencies attributed the increase, primarily or in part, to the economy
A Recovery-Free Zone: The Unyielding Impact of the Economic Downturn on Nonprofit Community Social Services in Ontario
Despite ‘green shoot’ sightings of recovery in some areas of the economy, Ontario’s nonprofit recession rages on. Results of A Recovery-Free Zone, a one-year follow-up study conducted by the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO), find tough times have continued into 2010 for Ontario’s nonprofit community social service providers and the communities that they serve. A total of 311 nonprofit community social service agencies from across Ontario, providing a host of programs and services to a broad cross-section of communities and population groups, took part in the 2010 survey. This year’s study was expanded to include a survey of 33 non-governmental funders in Ontario including United Ways, community foundations and other independent grant-making bodies.
The purpose of this study was to identify the impact of the current global economic recession on nonprofit community social service agencies in Ontario, and ultimately, to assess the capacity of the sector to respond to current and emerging community needs. This survey is intended to be the first stage of an ongoing research and assessment process that will allow the SPNO to monitor the ongoing impact of the recession on agencies in Ontario.
The objectives of this project were:
1. To investigate the impact of the economic recession on the capacity of nonprofit community social service agencies in Ontario to respond to existing and emerging community needs.
Hard Hit is a new report from the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) documenting the one-two punch affecting nonprofit community social service agencies in Ontario - an increasing demand for services and lost revenue from funding cuts driven by the economic downturn. The provincial report is available at www.spno.ca or www.socialplanningtoronto.org
The Toronto Story
One hundred and thirty-five Toronto agencies took part in this survey of more than 400 Ontario nonprofit community social service organizations, representing one-third of the total. This bulletin provides a summary of the Toronto-specific results of the study.
Prior to the provincial Community Use of Schools Policy and funding (CUS), fees for community use of schools had risen sharply across Ontario, resulting in closures of programs and steep declines in use. The CUS program was launched in July 2004 with a $20 million investment, followed by a further enhancement in February 2008, with a province-wide plan to increase funding from $20 million to $66 million by 2012.
In March and April of 2009, SPACE (Saving Public Access to Community Space Everywhere), a provincial coalition, and Social Planning Toronto (SPT), a nonprofit community organization, conducted a follow-up survey to our 2005 and 2007 evaluations of the provincial CUS policy, program and funding (SPACE/CSPC-T, 2005; SPACE/CSPC-T, 2007). We received 358 survey responses from organizations across Ontario. This year we also investigated community access to municipal facilities.