Poverty Reduction in Toronto

Tackling Poverty in Toronto

Every day, residents in Toronto struggle to make ends meet. We have an affordable housing crisis where tenants can barely afford their rent, resulting in 10,000 people currently without housing. One in four residents are food insecure and a record number of people are reliant on food banks. Too many people are still struggling with mental health and wellbeing concerns. Toronto is also facing a serious drug toxicity crisis, fuelled by a dangerous, unregulated drug supply and exacerbated by social, economic, and health inequities. At least 13.2% of all Torontonians and 31% of non-permanent residents live in poverty. And the terribly long waitlists for free and low-cost services, such as childcare and social housing, are disheartening.

Toronto’s situation is alarming and can’t be ignored. More details are provided here on Toronto’s critical situation, by the numbers. Addressing these issues is a matter of human rights, where every Torontonian is entitled to achieve a fulfilling life with dignity and respect.

How can we tackle poverty and economic inequality in Toronto?

Toronto is a wealthy city with an abundance of opportunity and potential. However, decades of under-funding and lack of commitment by all levels of government has left the City with difficult decisions to make about how to generate revenue and how to allocate the funds it has at its disposal. Meaningful progress on ending poverty and reducing economic inequality is possible, provided there is the political will to back it up. 

Tackling the root causes of poverty is complex. Solutions involve multiple approaches and ‘all hands on deck,’ including all levels of government. Municipalities like the City of Toronto play a critical role. The latest Action Plan of the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy is scheduled to come to City Council in early 2024. In this post-quarantine era, as we see soaring rents and unprecedented homelessness, housing unaffordability, and food insecurity, we need to see greater urgency and evidence-informed action to tackle the root causes effectively. This Action Plan is an opportunity to embed a new urgency and commitment to do everything we can. 

Launched in 2015, the Poverty Reduction Strategy is the City of Toronto’s long-term strategy to address immediate needs, create pathways to prosperity, and drive systemic change for those living in poverty in the City. The Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy contains 17 recommendations to be achieved by 2035. Every four years, the Poverty Reduction Strategy releases a refreshed Action Plan that builds on the work of previous years. The strategy focuses on housing stability, services access, transit equity, food access, the quality of jobs and incomes, and systemic change. 

In 2013, Social Planning Toronto, with partners and community members, launched the call for a city-wide Poverty Reduction Strategy and was instrumental in its establishment. Since then, SPT has followed the implementation of the strategy and has continued to advocate for urgent action, adequate funding, stronger monitoring, and transparent reporting. In partnership with community organizations in Toronto, we have taken a closer look at food security as a main component of poverty reduction. Learn more about food insecurity in Toronto and what community organizations are asking for in the next Poverty Reduction Strategy Action Plan.

What’s next?

We will be sharing more recommendations and updates here, along with our thoughts on what else needs to be included in the next Action Plan to effectively tackle poverty in Toronto. So many residents across Toronto are struggling. They and the community organizations that work with them should have a greater voice in shaping poverty reduction strategies so that they make  real changes in people’s lives. 

The new Poverty Reduction Strategy 2023-2026 Action Plan has been re-scheduled and will now be considered by the City's Executive Committee on Tuesday, April 9 and by City Council during its April 17 to 19 meeting. Committee and Council agendas are available at www.toronto.ca/city-government/council/council-committee-meetings a week before meeting dates. The new Action Plan will be available to the public on Tuesday, April 2, prior to the Executive Committee meeting. You can find information on how to share your comments in writing or in person at Committee meetings on the City’s website.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Office will also be hosting a Virtual Information Session where they will share information about the impacts of poverty and the actions the City is proposing to take in the Action Plan.

Date: Monday, February 26, 2024

Times: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Register Here

OR  6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Register Here

Location: virtual via Zoom

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