Yesterday, Toronto City Council passed the 2020 budget. We were pleased to see that for the first time in many years, City Council demonstrated a willingness to generate new revenue sources to fund important priorities for the city, including affordable housing, transit, and social programs.
This year’s budget includes a number of investments in poverty reduction, including:
- $6 million for programs to prevent youth violence, including funding for youth hubs at libraries and community centres
- $1 million to enhance the Eviction Prevention Intervention in the Community (EPIC) program that provides supports to renters at risk for eviction to improve housing stability
- 8 new street outreach workers
- Funding to develop a gender equity strategy and unit
Our budget submission recommended expending the Fair Fare TTC subsidy program, which is currently only available to people receiving social assistance or childcare subsidies, to all low-income Torontonians in 2020. While we were disappointed to see that the City did not commit funding to expanding this program this year, we were pleased that the budget did include funding for city staff to develop an implementation plan that would see the subsidy expanded by May 2021.
City Council also passed motions to explore a vacant homes tax and commercial parking levy to generate additional revenue in next year’s budget.
The City of Toronto is rapidly growing and changing. The City has made important strides in addressing poverty, but there is more work to be done. One in five people in Toronto are living in poverty and one in five are experiencing food insecurity. We applaud City Council for taking the first step in identifying ways to increase revenue to fund important poverty alleviation programs that will make the Toronto a better place for everyone to live.
To read Daily Bread’s submission to Toronto’s 2020 budget, click here.