Reforms Ignore Strong Proposals From In-Depth Income Security Study and Leave People With Disabilities in Jeopardy
“The Ontario government’s announcement to reform social assistance promised a compassionate and empowering system while offering few specifics, dropping many of the important reforms that were on the table before the election, and committing to a new definition of disability that will likely block many Ontarians with disabilities from getting the income support they desperately need,” said Peter Clutterbuck, Interim Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto, in response to the Province’s proposed changes to Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
On Thursday, November 15, the provincial government released its Fall Economic Statement and introduced Bill 57, its budget bill. Included in the bill are plans to scrap rent controls on any new or newly converted residential units.
Under current legislation, we have rent control on occupied units in Ontario. In general, landlords can increase rents once a year, up to the annual provincial guideline (based on the Consumer Price Index) — this year, for example, the guideline was 1.8%. If a landlord wants to increase rents by more than the guideline, they have to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) for an above-the-guideline increase and make a case that the increase is justified because they have incurred certain "extraordinary" expenses (such as excessive municipal tax increases, renovations, or security services). Tenants can appeal, but the LTB makes the final decision.
After a rigorous selection process, Social Planning Toronto enthusiastically announces and welcomes Devika Shah as our new Executive Director.
Devika is passionate about building a civic society in Toronto—the city she loves—that is grounded in diversity, equity, social and economic justice, and active democratic engagement. Her interdisciplinary background and experience in the environmental sector have strengthened her commitment to advancing grassroots, community-led, multi-stakeholder solutions, which she views as the most powerful lever for achieving systems change.
In the lead-up to Toronto’s municipal election, community groups and coalitions asked candidates for Mayor and Council to commit to actions around poverty, housing, road safety, and ranked ballots.
On October 22, Toronto elected its new City Council. Social Planning Toronto has produced this election update to show which members of the new Toronto City Council supported these progressive campaigns to make Toronto more liveable and its elections more fair.
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Update (November 12, 2018): City Councillors Cynthia Lai and Jennifer McKelvie have recently endorsed the Prosperity Pledge, bringing the total number of Council members (including Mayor Tory) who have signed it to 19.
Of the 26 members of Council elected in Toronto on Monday night, 17 signed a “prosperity pledge,” committing to fully fund and implement the city’s first poverty reduction strategy, adopted unanimously by the previous Council in 2015.
The “Prosperity Platform” campaign, led by a community and faith coalition, demands that the new City Council take action and fully fund, implement, and monitor progress on the poverty reduction strategy. In the months leading up to the election, the campaign sought signed pledges from 239 candidates (for whom contact information was available) registered for election.
JOB POSTING: COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
Social Planning Toronto (SPT) is a non-profit community organization that works to improve equity, social justice and quality of life in Toronto through community capacity building, community education and advocacy, policy research and analysis, and social reporting.
SPT is seeking a full-time Communications Coordinator, with a proven track record working in the area of communications focused on community development and action.
This position encompasses the development and implementation of the overall communications, public relations and media strategies of SPT.
Study Finds Child Poverty in Every Ward—Even the Most Affluent—and Calls for Renewed Action on Poverty Reduction Strategy
Monday, October 1, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Child and family poverty is a disturbing reality in every ward in Toronto, a new report from a coalition of community agencies finds. Newly released census data shows that ten wards in the city have a child poverty rate between 33% and 47%, but even wards with relatively low rates include areas where child poverty is pervasive, at double or triple the ward average.
The report, entitled “2018 Toronto Child & Family Poverty Report: Municipal Election Edition,” is the first to use census tract data to show hidden poverty within the city’s wards.
The Ontario Government was bound and determined to have its way in forcing a 25-ward system on the City of Toronto, regardless of how disruptive its actions have been on the City’s election process.
This has come at great cost to the City and also to the many new candidates for municipal office whose hopes were dashed with this abuse of provincial powers. For a brief moment, the courts tried to protect our local democracy under Charter Rights, but in the end, the courts upheld provincial authority, which the Premier was prepared to impose legislatively in any case through the unprecedented use of the notwithstanding clause.
We regret to announce the need to cancel the panel discussion on critical issues facing Toronto’s seniors with Mayoral candidates John Tory, Jennifer Keesmaat, Sarah Climenhaga, Saron Gebresellassi, and Knia Singh. The panel discussion was scheduled for Monday, October 1, at Metro Hall, but will now not be held.
The event sponsors did invite additional mayoral candidates who could be reached to make a one-minute statement at the end of the panel discussion in accordance with the City of Toronto’s facility use policy. The sponsors would not and did not, however, extend invitations to several candidates who espouse policies and beliefs that violate their organizations’ core values and principles, and, for that matter, the City’s anti-discrimination/anti-harassment and hate speech policies. For this reason, it was necessary to make the difficult decision to cancel the event.
Event sponsors are in the process of trying to contact the 200+ seniors registered for the event to advise them of the cancellation.
While disappointed at this missed opportunity to discuss the issues with the leading Mayoral candidates, we urge all seniors to get engaged in the municipal election, bring your issues to the candidates directly, get out to vote, and bring others with you.