5 Reasons, 5 Actions. . .
5 REASONS THE CITY OF TORONTO SHOULD ACT TO REDUCE POVERTY
1. Poverty levels in Toronto are unacceptably high: Toronto has the highest rates of child poverty (29%) and overall poverty (23%) amongst Canada’s 20 largest cities.
2. Poverty costs us all: Poverty costs provincial and federal governments $10-13 Billion a year in Ontario alone.
3. A child’s material well-being should not depend on where she lives or the colour of her skin: In Toronto, racialized Individuals and families are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to live in poverty. Child poverty is ten times higher in Regent Park and Thorncliffe Park (over 50%) than it is in Lawrence Park and The Kingsway (5%)
4. Poverty hinders childrens’ success in life: Children growing up in low-income neighbourhoods are less likely to be ready to learn when starting school, area less likely to meet provincial standards for reading, writing and math, are less likely to participate in extracurricular activities, and are less likely to be deemed gifted.
5. There is sufficient wealth in Toronto to address poverty: Toronto has 118,000 millionaires (based on assets excluding value of primary residence). That’s almost one millionaire for each child living in poverty.
5 ACTIONS TORONTO CITY COUNCIL CAN TAKE NOW TO REDUCE POVERTY
1. Put in place a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy with targets, timelines and dedicated funding.
2. Deal with the structural underfunding of city services by launching a review of the equity impacts of current and potential municipal tax instruments, and recommending reforms for fairer taxation (e.g. a progressive property tax). Put tax on roads/vehicles/parking to free up money to invest in transit and reduce fares.
3. Take actions that are zero/low-cost (e.g. inclusionary zoning, legalize rooming housings across the city, social procurement/community benefits agreements for all infrastructure projects, strengthen the city’s fair wage policy)
4. Re-balance power at City Hall by better involving diverse community members in decision-making through ranked ballot voting, participatory budgeting and other practices
5. Come up with a long term plan to shift funding from dealing with the effects of poverty (e.g. policing, shelters) to preventing poverty (e.g. child care, recreation, income supports)