A state of "in between," and where to go from here

It’s hard not to feel right now like we are caught in some kind of “in between.”

We are entering a new phase of the pandemic even though most of us are “done” with it. So many of us are struggling or burnt out, but haven’t figured out what to do about it. In June we saw record-low voter turnout for the provincial election and record-high food bank usage. We are fed up with ongoing systemic racism from the Toronto Police (which activists have been sounding the alarm on for decades) and with community and gender-based violence. We are exhausted by the slow pace of reconciliation and action on homelessness, housing affordability, poverty, equity, and climate change. Billionaires fly to the moon while workers and low-income folks struggle to make ends meet.

The same premier who reduced Toronto's ridings from 47 to 25 in 2018 may further erode democracy and the City’s ability to meet our complex challenges by granting the Mayor greater powers. Is this really what Toronto needs on the brink of a new era?

New data released last week from the 2021 Census confirm what we already knew: that bold and urgent action by government (in this case, in the form of temporary emergency benefits such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB) can significantly reduce poverty and economic inequality. While we saw reduced poverty in 2020, compared to 2015, as a result of this short-term injection of benefits, poverty levels were previously at unacceptably high levels, and they continue to be high, including in key low-income neighbourhoods across Toronto. Furthermore, even Statistics Canada has cautioned that these income improvements won’t “stick.” Many temporary benefits have dried up and, thanks to housing and affordability crises and the highest rate of inflation in almost 40 years, families across the city are under tremendous strain. (See our latest blog post for more nuanced analysis of this new data.)

We know that current economic and social systems are not working for so many of us, and that now is the perfect time to fix what's broken. We must demand what we need, from all levels of government: bold, urgent, and sustained action.

On October 24, Toronto will elect its next City Council. Toronto City Council controls the sixth-largest government in Canada and holds tremendous power to build a more just, affordable, and equitable city. Over the next few months, Councillor and Mayoral candidates will be knocking on doors and attending community events to hear from residents like you about what matters most in the next term of City Council. This is an incredible opportunity to help set the stage for real change. We must make sure we get the city we want by sharing with our future City Council the most pressing issues facing our communities.

From now until election day, Social Planning Toronto will be working to convene residents, community groups, and organizations, holding events, and supporting shared calls to action. Help us make a difference by chipping in to support our work and joining us in our efforts. If you, or an organization or community group that you work with, would like to collaborate to build a vision for a better, more just Toronto, please get in touch with us by completing our short survey:

© Copyright 2017-2020 Social Planning Toronto. All rights reserved.