Last month, we called on the Minister of Finance to address the disparities exacerbated by the pandemic and to prioritize communities and nonprofits by:
- Supporting municipal finances;
- Protecting tenants and increasing the supply of adequate housing;
- Financing and improving access to essential public services and programs;
- Supporting workers; and
- Investing in the nonprofit sector.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy presented the 2021 Ontario budget – Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. It is the Province’s $186 billion-dollar plan for stimulating Ontario’s economy and jumpstarting our long journey towards recovery.
In a nutshell, this year’s provincial budget focuses on health and economic recovery. The Government of Ontario is funding short-term benefits, grants, and temporary tax credits for families and businesses, and is investing in health care and tourism.
So, what’s the good news and bad news for Toronto residents, communities, and nonprofits from this second provincial pandemic budget?
The Frances Lankin Community Service Award was established in 2011 by Social Planning Toronto on the occasion of Frances Lankin’s retirement from United Way Toronto.
It is awarded annually to two individuals who have made a significant, transformative contribution to the non-profit community sector in the City of Toronto. The Award recognizes one recipient for a Lifetime Achievement Award, and one for an Inspiring Leadership Award.
Investments Are Needed to Tackle Toronto’s Crisis of Inequality, So Why is City Council Leaving a Viable Revenue Tool on the Table?
We’re in the home stretch of the 2021 budget process, with the final vote by Toronto city council set for Thursday, February 18.
This year’s budget has been a tough one. COVID-19 has dramatically reduced municipal revenues, leaving the city with a budget shortfall of $649 million. To put that in perspective, it would take a residential property tax increase of more than 20 per cent to fill the hole.
Unlike the higher levels of government, local governments lack the tax levers to respond to budget shortfalls of this magnitude, and they are not legally permitted to run deficits. The mayor and council have rightly called for the federal and provincial government to step up to support the city.
But filling the hole in the budget won’t address Toronto’s crisis of social inequality exacerbated by the pandemic.
Ontario 2021 Pre-Budget Submission Prepared for the Minister of Finance
Social Planning Toronto calls on the Government of Ontario to make tangible investments in the 2021 Ontario Budget that level the playing field for those most negatively affected by the pandemic – especially seniors, women, Indigenous people, racialized and Black communities, and people with disabilities.
Residents of our great province deserve a budget that supports people, especially underserved communities and low-income households, to stay safe and healthy. We envision a budget that creates jobs through inclusive, local economic development. This time of unprecedented challenges requires a provincial budget that makes Ontario, and its local municipalities, more affordable, sustainable, and ready to recover.
Social Planning Toronto (SPT) is seeking a dynamic, enterprising, and creative leader with a passion for equity and significant experience in community capacity building to lead the organization through its next phase of growth and development. This individual will play a critical role in achieving SPT’s organizational vision — mobilizing our research and community planning expertise and wide network of community partnerships to advance social justice, racial equity, and civic engagement; advocate for progressive systems change; respond to changing social policy, funding, political, and economic environments; enhance the capacity of the community services sector; leverage learnings from COVID-19; and strengthen opportunities for all Toronto residents.
The City of Toronto needs new revenues to cushion its $1.8 billion budget shortfall and position itself for pandemic recovery
As we all weather the second wave of the pandemic, the City of Toronto is facing a historic $1.8 billion deficit rolling into 2021. COVID-19 has created significant challenges for the City’s earning and spending abilities — it must deal with unprecedented increases in costs of running local programs and services, while facing significant decreases in revenues.
The Federal Government has stepped in to support Ontario municipalities during the pandemic by dedicating $4 billion in emergency funding. This money is part of its Safe Start Agreement, which provides $19 billion in relief funding for all provinces and territories.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, encampments and temporary dwellings have increased at an unexpected rate in Toronto and many cities across the country. Encampments are not a suitable long-term housing solution for those most in need. However, for more than 1,000 homeless people in Toronto, encampments have provided a sense of community and security, especially during the pandemic.
As the winter worsens and we grapple with the second wave of COVID-19, encampment residents are at risk of forced removal by the City of Toronto. Forcible clearings of encampments are not the answer. They are harsh and unfair. More so, encampment evictions can have negative social and health consequences by dispersing homeless residents throughout the community and breaking connections with service providers.
As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to deepen housing injustices and homelessness across Toronto, Social Planning Toronto celebrates National Housing Day with hope and determination.
It was on November 22nd,1998 that the Big City Mayors Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities endorsed the declaration of homelessness as a national disaster made by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, a housing advocacy group.
More than two decades later, homelessness persists and continues to have devastating impacts on our friends, neighbours and communities. Now every year on November 22nd housing advocates, stakeholders and residents come together to demand an end to homelessness and housing precarity.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Rod Phillips outlined Ontario’s roadmap for pandemic recovery in the much anticipated 2020 Provincial budget. Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover is based on a record $38.5 billion deficit and provides $15 billion in new support.
Although the budget outlines initiatives to protect, support, and help our province to recover from the pandemic, much can be said about who benefits from this budget and who is left behind.
Health care and small businesses have, understandably, received attention in this year’s budget. However, the 2020 Ontario Budget shortchanges local communities and the organizations that serve them. An effective and far-reaching pandemic recovery requires significant investment in both.
Toronto’s housing crisis existed long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has intensified housing challenges and shone light on the urgent need for immediate solutions, and medium and long-term policy interventions. Low-income and equity-seeking groups identified affordable housing as the top priority for COVID-19 recovery in SPT-supported consultations.
Though Inclusionary Zoning will not end Toronto’s housing crisis on its own, this promising tool would increase the supply of affordable ownership and affordable rental housing in the city. So what is Inclusionary Zoning? In Toronto, Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) would require a percentage of new condominium and new purpose-built rental housing to be affordable to residents with low to moderate incomes, benefitting a growing segment of Toronto residents who don’t earn enough to afford market prices but earn too much to be eligible for social housing.