Without community, politics is dead. But communities have been scattered like dust in the wind. At work, at home, both practically and imaginatively, we are atomised.
As a result, politics is experienced by many people as an external force: dull and irrelevant at best, oppressive and frightening at worst. It is handed down from above rather than developed from below.
[But] … Participatory culture stimulates participatory politics. In fact, it is participatory politics. It creates social solidarity while proposing and implementing a vision of a better world. It generates hope where hope seemed absent. It allows people to take back control. Most importantly, it can appeal to anyone, whatever their prior affiliations might be. It begins to generate a kinder public life, built on intrinsic values. By rebuilding society from the bottom up, it will eventually force parties and governments to fall into line with what people want. We can do this. And we don’t need anyone’s permission to begin.
2018 was a challenging year for Social Planning Toronto. Yet despite a leadership change, our small but mighty organization continued providing sector leadership and putting our noses to the grindstone in communities.
With a difficult year behind us, a new year upon us, and a new Executive Director to lead us (click here for a message from Devika Shah), it seems an appropriate time to share a few highlights of our community planning and research work over the past year.
Our Op-Ed in today’s Toronto Star argues that if Toronto truly is a “world-class city” or “Toronto the Good,” we must choose to move beyond slogans to action. Too many Torontonians are hurting.
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.
Do you belong to a resident-led group that has a great event idea and needs funding?
Apply for a Neighbourhood Grant!
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.