Year in Review

“We know we are having an impact when we see City Councillors waiving a joint statement released with our 59 [sic -- 59 including us] closest partners during budget season, when we have media invite us to share important insights on key issues, when we see stakeholders embedding our research and analysis in their work, amplifying our messages around how to make the city more democratic, equitable, accessible, and when we see partners we have connected making new connections across issues and geographies, sharing valuable knowledge and Intel with one another. We know we are having an impact when we use the influence and power we have developed for over decades to support a greater diversity of partners to play leadership roles and influence the agenda of the city.” – Jin at AGM

"it is such a privilege to be a United Way anchor partner and to partner let regularly with stellar colleagues at United Way to strategized around policy advocacy research and systems change. We couldn't ask for a more supportive funder partner and cheerleader." -- Jin at AGM

Did we achieve what we said we would in last year's year-end review?

In the coming year [2022], 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.

list below can easily be reordered


“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”

Every year, SPT and partner organizations advocate for a better City Budget. While overall the 2022 budget was not exactly the one we wanted, there would have been little challenge to a status quo budget if not for strong community advocacy including ours.

Some highlights from this year’s budget work:

  • We shared detailed budget analysis, as usual, on our City Budget Watch blog (in its 13th year!) and also through a Budget Town Hall;
  • In the spirit of our 2021 People’s Budget Platform, we held a Community Dialogue, giving residents of neighbourhoods often underserved and underrepresented in policy and program decisions a chance to share their budget demands, and sent a summary of their asks to the Budget Committee;
  • Executive Director Jin Huh deputed before the Budget Committee, calling for acceleration of delayed, but urgent, initiatives to tackle poverty and the housing crisis (including the Fair Fare Pass and the Housing Commissioner);
  • SPT and partners drew attention to the chronic underfunding of essential programs, services, and capital projects and the dire need for additional City revenue streams;
  • On the eve of the budget vote, SPT and 58 other organizations issued a statement calling on the Mayor and Councillors to urgently address serious gaps in the budget process, including the lack of time that residents and communities had to fully engage; and
  • We convened a coalition of partners committed to organizing not just during budget season, but throughout the calendar year.
“Communities across our city are in the midst of a five-alarm fire. This budget does not address the urgent situation. We have heard this is another pandemic budget, and certainly the city is facing a tough financial situation, but amidst this emergency we need council to push further and faster.”

— Jin Huh, executive director of Social Planning Toronto

“Mayor Tory and City Councillors, our city is at a crossroads. Amid multiple and intersecting crises, if you continue to take a ‘business as usual’ approach you will preside over a rapid decline in the wellbeing and quality of life of Toronto residents. Instead, we urge you to show bold and brave leadership and set Toronto on a different course.

— Joint statement from 59 organizations


“I didn’t realize the massive discrepancies [between] the budget [and] the targets that the City themselves have set up, i.e., the HousingTO 2020–2030 plan. Thank you for presenting this educational moment that showcases the dissonance between the budget and the City’s own policy targets.

— Parkdale Activity–Recreation Centre team member reacting to our joint budget statement


In October 2019 Toronto City Council directed staff to develop a Gender Equity Unit and a Gender Equity Strategy (GES).

In 2021 the City asked us to lead a community consultation process to help shape the GES. In partnership with 23 resident leaders, we conducted consultations between December 2021 and March 2022. We invited women, girls, trans, Two Spirit, and non-binary residents across the city to think through how gender equity and inequality play out in their day-to-day experiences — particularly as it related to City services and programs. We made sure to include the voices of Indigenous, Black, racialized, and 2SLGBTIQ+ communities, people living with disabilities, newcomers, refugees, people living on a low income, seniors, and youth.

Over a thousand diverse residents shared their thoughts and ideas about what the GES should look like. A report on our findings will accompany the final strategy developed by the City, which we expect to be released shortly. [can we at least share our report?] We hope that our work — which came at a crucial time, as women and gender-diverse residents have borne the brunt of many of the impacts of the pandemic — will help produce a GES informed by the many complex, intersecting needs and realities of the city’s women, girls, trans, Two Spirit, and non-binary residents.


we continue to be so grateful for the very special relationship spt has with the city of Toronto we are thankful for the city's ongoing financial support and that SPT continues to be seen as a trusted partner to engage communities and stakeholders across the city on critical policies strategies and programs -- Jin at AGM


"Enabling the space for cross-stakeholder collaborative dialogue and action to advance a just and equitable recovery plan for Toronto"

[what’s happening with this work?]

The pandemic has laid bare the systemic inequities and injustices that many of us have been working to address for years. From the start of the pandemic we have seen governments move quickly and collaborate with the community sector to shift policy and funding to provide support and essential services in new ways. We saw cities implement innovative and creative programs to address the needs of residents and businesses.

But we’ve also seen a deepening of poverty, inequality, and isolation, exacerbated in particular for those who are BIPOC, women and gender diverse, new to Canada, and/or living with a disability. During our 2020 consultations for the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, over a thousand residents and resident leaders shared a range of constructive and creative solutions that could support residents and improve community resilience and wellbeing.

A PLAN The enormity of the task ahead of us — a just and equitable recovery and rebuild for our city — makes a vision and plan crucial. SPT is engaging the community service sector to shape a shared vision, set priorities, and form a coalition to take collaborative action towards systemic and policy change. We’re partnering in this work with United Way Greater Toronto, the community agency partners in the Community Coordination Plan (put together by the City and United Way to support residents during the pandemic), and others.

2022 municipal election work

  • Jin on Metro Morning re what next Council should do about poverty [also in the poverty section]
  • worked to convene residents, community groups, and organizations 
  • held events (workshops and in partnership with UWGT, Bold Ideas for Change panel series) link to Bold Ideas videos
  • supported shared calls to action – e.g., A City for All
  • shared resources and information on our website
  • produced resources including speaker roster, fact sheets, election toolkit
  • mention vote pledge? 211/1,500 goal
  • offered voter engagement grants for residents and grassroots groups

We offered $500 grants to Toronto residents/resident groups who wanted to engage their communities in the municipal election, e.g., by hosting a community dialogue, information session, all candidates debate, vote pledge/registration drive, or vote party.

  • Election results: Jin on Metro Morning day after [can’t find recording!]
  • her message was that we need more than hope to get us out of the city's multiple crises. used the analogy of a house in disrepair to talk about how the city needs investments to “keep our family safe.”


Demanding a better Toronto? Introducing the "A City for All" platform

We all deserve to thrive in our city, but many of us are struggling. Across our city, there are growing crises in housing, health, poverty, safety, and climate. We need and deserve better. 

A group of community-based organizations — SPT, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Parkdale People’s Economy, Progress Toronto, Toronto ACORN, and Toronto Community Benefits Network — have come together to draft a platform to address these urgent crises. This shared platform is built upon years of work done by so many of our partners.

From fast-tracking affordable, accessible, and green housing to expanding access to the TTC Fair Pass, the A City for All platform is a call to action for our next City Council, providing specific, implementable policy solutions supported by strong research, evidence, and community support.  

A City for All:

  • is being shared with candidates — use it to engage with and demand better from your local candidates! — and will be shared with the newly elected City Council; 

  • will form the basis for more organizing and advocacy efforts with our new City Council as they put forward their first budget, make decisions about a just recovery, and tackle the multiple crises facing our city; and 

  • is meant for groups and residents to use, and build upon, as communities organize a collective vision for a better Toronto.

 Stay tuned for more ways to get involved.


Although our focus is the city of Toronto, federal and provincial government decisions have very local implications. Leading up to the provincial election this year, we provided policy analysis and supported civic engagement around key issues impacting Toronto residents.


The pandemic highlighted that public spaces are critical to community wellbeing. Neighbourhood schools have abundant space for community groups to run after-school and evening programs. But community access to school facilities has shrunk thanks to funding cuts, and the pandemic only worsened the situation.

The SPACE coalition used its 2021 briefing note, “Maximizing Community Use of School Space: Preparing for A New Normal,” to call on the Province to invest in CUS in its 2022 budget, and to push the parties hoping to form the next government to commit to returning CUS funding to its 2018–19 budget level plus 10 percent. (All three opposition parties provided broadly supportive responses.)

background: As an active member of the coalition we enthusiastically endorsed the document and its vision of making school facilities accessible, affordable, and equitable for community use.


For the provincial election in June, we focussed our advocacy on the relationship between municipalities and the Province, which impacts the quality of life, health, and wellbeing of our communities.

We produced shareables (a 2-page fact sheet and a 5-page backgrounder) outlining some of the issues shaped by this special relationship, and in May we brought panelists from across Ontario together for a non-partisan discussion of what cities need from the Province to build more inclusive and just communities, especially as we move out of the pandemic.


In addition to sitting on the steering committee of the Toronto Nonprofit Network (TNN), SPT also participates on several city-wide strategy tables that support the work of community and social service organizations, and we advocate strongly for the sector during budget season and throughout the year.


On October 5, 2022, we supported TNN in recognizing Toronto’s third Not-for-Profit Recognition Day. The day focussed on celebrating our sector’s transformational role in Toronto, making the city a vibrant, connected, safe and healthier place to live, and on spatial justice...


Earlier this year, we supported TNN in celebrating Ontario’s first-ever Nonprofit Sector Appreciation Week (Feb. 14–20, 2022). With a provincial election less than six months away at the time, TNN asked the sector to amplify its call for candidates and parties to prioritize us in their platforms, and the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s call for immediate action to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and restrictions on us.


After a decade of celebrating outstanding nonprofit sector leadership with our annual Frances Lankin Award, we’ve recognized that the nomination and selection processes need a review in order to make them more equitable.

We want to take time and get this right, so we put the Award on hold this year. We look forward to providing an update on this work soon. In the meantime, you can learn about previous recipients at

A new advisory group for the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy

wasn't in the Annual Report -- what do we have to say about this project?

Social Planning Toronto was selected by the City of Toronto to develop a new iteration of the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy (TSNS) Resident Advisory Group.

We partnered with the Community Development Unit at the City of Toronto to help renew the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy. 

We recruited city-wide for resident leaders from the city's 31 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas, eight Emerging Neighbourhoods, and equity-owed groups including people living on a low income, people with disabilities, and Indigenous, Black, racialized, and 2SLGBTQ+ communities. Throughout May we received over 100 applications from powerful resident leaders across Toronto who were eager to join a new Advisory Group.

These residents will participate in trainings on City policy development and equity strategies, and provide feedback and input to the City's Community Development Unit to inform an updated TSNS being developed over the next 18 months. 

Advisory Group members will also consult residents, analyze the current landscape of resident engagement, and identify best practices that would enable city-wide networking, information sharing, capacity building, and leadership development across identified neighbourhoods and communities. The community feedback and evidence they gather through this work will inform the advice they provide the City.

From July 2022 to September 2023, the Advisory Group will come together to share with the City their ideas for and experiences with community engagement, city-wide networking, information sharing, skill building, and community leadership development.

Melissa's hiring?

Ammar's project?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Toronto South LIP project


Beth drew on her distance-based fares research to speak in support of this recommendation at the February meeting of the TTC Board.


Since 2020 the Toronto Transit Commission and York Region Transit have been developing a joint, 5-year fare plan, examining a number of ways of charging for transit use. Sparked by this opportunity to create a more equitable transit system, senior researcher Beth Wilson examined one of the fare options being considered — distance-based fares, i.e., paying more to travel further within the city of Toronto.
Our analysis showed that implementing distance-based fares within Toronto would most negatively impact racialized and immigrant residents of the inner suburbs. Thankfully, City staff have recommended the TTC stick with the existing flat fare to travel within Toronto, and Beth...


SPT joined 54 other organizations to co-sign TTCriders’ open letter making fare recommendations for a fair pandemic recovery and calling on Council to invest in transit affordability in the 2022 City Budget. We and other budget partners also helped TTCriders get us one step closer to the full implementation of the Fair Pass Transit Discount Program for low-income riders.


Our community planners work to strengthen resident leadership across the city. Highlights over the past year include …

any update on Downsview?

released report on the Safety Network Development Pilot in March 2022

Although the pilot wrapped earlier this year, a report summarizing what we learned, workshop recordings, and resources are all still publicly available. 


SAFE COMMUNITIES In 2021 we partnered with the City’s Community Crisis Response Program (CCRP) on the Safety Network Development Pilot to help build the capacity of CCRP-supported safety networks. These community-based networks — each comprising local agencies, residents, youth, and other stakeholders — not only support communities to heal after violent incidents but also proactively identify local safety and wellness issues and develop responses to them.
We worked with 25 safety networks to develop and deliver local safety projects/initiatives. Over the summer and fall, we hosted virtual workshops and provided resources on topics chosen by safety network members (including resident leadership, media communications, conflict resolution and mediation, and network sustainability). Three hundred and forty people participated in the workshops, many attending multiple workshops. And in December we co-led a virtual event that brought together 135 safety network members from across the city to collectively reflect on strengths, challenges, opportunities, and aspirations in building strong safety networks.


Using research and data to shed light on how poverty and inequality are experienced

“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”

New data released in July from the 2021 Census confirm what we already knew: that bold and urgent action by government (in this case, in the form of temporary emergency benefits such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB) can significantly reduce poverty and economic inequality. While we saw reduced poverty in 2020, compared to 2015, as a result of this short-term injection of benefits, poverty levels were previously at unacceptably high levels, and they continue to be high, including in key low-income neighbourhoods across Toronto. Furthermore, even Statistics Canada has cautioned that these income improvements won’t “stick.” Many temporary benefits have dried up and, thanks to housing and affordability crises and the highest rate of inflation in almost 40 years, families across the city are under tremendous strain. See our latest blog post for more nuanced analysis of this new data.


Our Executive Director, Jin Huh, joined Feed Scarborough ED Suman Roy and United Way Greater Toronto CEO Daniele Zanotti on CBC's Metro Morning on October 14 to discuss what Toronto's next Council can do about poverty. Jin noted that the current mayor's prevailing narrative around the City budget — that we can only do so much — is, in fact, a political choice [link to austerity report] made through more than a decade of austerity budgets and a real reluctance to look at new revenue-generating tools.


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

In September, the Province passed legislation giving "strong mayor" powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa. Toronto's mayor now has the power to veto bylaws that conflict with provincial policy goals, and greater responsibility and power over preparing and tabling the City's budget. The strong mayor legislation has essentially taken power away from Councillors and the residents they represent, and given it to the mayor — and the Province. 

Now is the time for us to reclaim our local democracy. The strength of our democracy depends on our own engagement with it. Rather than giving in to the misconception that our voice or vote won’t actually affect change, we need to demand better from our system and from our publicly elected leaders. Each of our votes matters, especially in a municipal election. Toronto needs and deserves much better, and we need your voice and vote.

That begins with our votes on Monday. But it does not end there. Read our latest blog post for our thoughts on improving our local democratic system.

Our Executive Director, Jin Huh, also shared our concerns with strong mayor powers on CBC's Metro Morning on October 14.

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