A new report estimates poverty is costing Toronto between $4.5-$5.5 billion each year due to increases in cost to the health and justice system as well as lost tax revenue.
Report co-author John Stapleton emphasized the need to see poverty as a drag on our economy: “Whether it’s increased cost to our public health system, criminal justice system or lost tax revenue for our City, we need to focus on poverty reduction as a benefit to our long-term prosperity”.
The report, published by Alexa Briggs, Celia Lee, John Stapleton and numerous social sector agencies including Open Policy Ontario and Social Planning Toronto, outlines the added costs to both governments and society at large. The report does not account for factors like income and social assistance programs, added costs to the education system and children’s services.
“This report states clearly that there is no better time to start tackling poverty than now”, Said Leila Sarangi of Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke. “When we invest in people and give them a chance to escape poverty, they have a greater chance to contribute to our city”.
“For Toronto to succeed we can't afford to leave so many in poverty. Housing, transit and services are smart investments that make the city more prosperous”, said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto. “Service cuts and slashing budgets are a false economy that cost us more in the end.”
Toronto City Council is currently examining an across-the-board 2.6% budget cut, including cuts to poverty-linked services like transit, housing and student nutrition.