As we come to the end of 2021, our team wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on our work this past year. Through this “year in review,” we reflect back to you some major collective wins that we have worked with many of you to achieve and note the significant work that still lies ahead.
I joined SPT as the new Executive Director at the end of May, but my colleagues and many of you — our co-conspirators in the fight for social and economic justice — have done a tremendous job shining a light on inequities since the beginning of this full-on pandemic year. We have shared just-in-time, accessible, and community-centred research and analysis to better enable all of us to make the case for stronger, more equitable policies and decisions. We have helped increase skills and capacity across the city amongst those who are continuing to build stronger, healthier, more caring, resilient, and safer local communities. And we have helped create pathways for greater dialogue, engagement, and a more democratic city. Below, we provide some details on some of these pieces of work SPT has been a part of.
We are entering 2022 weary, isolated, and overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic and the enormity of the task of recovery, reimagining, and reconciliation ahead of us. What can I say to you about the road ahead and the work of Social Planning Toronto?
With great humility and a desire to continue to learn and grow with all of you, this is what I have to offer: We cannot stop here and be complacent with small tweaks and changes here and there. This is the time to break open all that we believed was possible and push the boundaries of what we can achieve together to realize a better Toronto, a better world. The city and its residents deserve better, and SPT is ready to rise to the challenge of this very unique moment in time when crisis is the norm and the opportunity for real change is in reach.
In the coming year, as our staff, board, and partners get clear on our strategic priorities, we hope to make significant gains on a number of fronts, including but not limited to:
- Enabling the space for cross-stakeholder collaborative dialogue and action to advance a just and equitable recovery plan for Toronto — partnering with United Way Greater Toronto, the partners in the Community Coordination Plan, and many others
- Finding ways to further advance new and better solutions and alternatives to unjust economic and social systems — enabling more equal distribution of wealth, resources, power, and social capital
- Furthering the democracy of our city, enabling historically/currently excluded residents and stakeholders across the city to have greater say in shaping a better Toronto, building upon the tremendous strengths and assets in communities
- Continuing to use research and data to shed light on how poverty and inequality are experienced across the city across intersections of gender, race, class, ability, sexuality, status, religion, and geography, and connecting that to meaningful and measurable actions and outcomes
- Embedding truth, reconciliation, and Indigenous rights to self-determination into every aspect of our work, including being guided by Indigenous wisdom and voices, and
- Working in coalition with others to get concrete and specific about the investments and funding needed to create the Toronto we know we need and deserve, and to organize ourselves to ensure they are in place for communities, community organizations/groups, the City of Toronto, and other key institutions.
Jin Huh, Executive Director
Introducing a New Mission, Vision, and Values
We were proud this year to unveil our new vision, mission, and values. The Board of Directors and staff worked on these for months, trying to capture in writing our essence and why we exist.
An equitable, inclusive, and accessible Toronto — shaped by the diversity of its residents and rooted in social and economic justice.
Social Planning Toronto challenges inequity in our city — through knowledge generation, debate, civic engagement, advocacy, and collaboration — to spark social and policy change.
- We are committed to equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
- We respect the rights, knowledge, protocols, and traditions of Indigenous peoples.
- We are independent and non-partisan.
- We are stronger through our work with partners.
- We are accountable to the community.
- We ground our work in the lived experiences and expertise of local communities.
- We are persistent and proactive, recognizing change is often a long process.
- We value evidence-based decision making.
These words must of course be translated into action. We will be using this new mission and vision to guide important decisions and will hold ourselves accountable to each of our eight values. As part of the membership renewal process this year, we asked our organizational members to indicate their support of our mission and vision and to commit to our values.
We hope these words resonate with you too.
Advancing the Human Right to Housing Amidst a Housing Crisis
Housing was a big newsmaker this year, and an area of great concern and focus for us. There were some big windows of opportunity for the City of Toronto to significantly advance affordable housing and meet its own commitments to treat housing as a human right. While some gains were made, we fell short in many ways. From encampment clearings led by police using excessive force to a generation-long wait for affordable housing to the lack of political will to legalize rooming houses across the city, our City Council has shown a lack of leadership and commitment to centering residents in addressing the immense housing crisis facing our City.