Toronto Council Highlights Jul 7-9,2015: Topics Include Social Housing, Car-pooling app – UberPool, Poverty & Woodbine Racetrack’s Expanded Gaming

Toronto City Council Chamber: Image Courtesy of the City of Toronto
Toronto City Council Chamber: Image Courtesy of the City of Toronto

City Council is composed of the Mayor and 44 Councillors who make decisions on behalf of their constituents – the people who vote for them in the 44 wards. Issues are identified by the public, through staff research, as follow-up to existing programs, services or policies or as part of the everyday work of running a city and achieving Council’s priorities.

The decision-making process involves committees and City Council. Committees include some, but not all Councillors.

Committees make recommendations to City Council for a final decision, while community councils (a type of committee) have some powers to make decisions on specific issues. Every Councillor is a member of City Council.

Toronto City Council Structure (2006)
Toronto City Council Structure (2006)

You can learn more about decision-making at the City on the Civic Engagement website.

City Council and committee meetings are held on a four-week schedule.

There are several types of committees. Members of the public can provide their input during committee and community council meetings by speaking for up to five minutes and receiving questions from Councillors. Learn more about speaking to a committee.

Confronting poverty in Toronto was one of the topics discussed at the council meeting of July 7, 8 and 9.

This video presents YWCA Toronto – Poverty Reduction:

City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Council Highlights

Volume 18  Issue 5

Toronto City Council meeting of July 7, 8 and 9, 2015

Council Highlights is an informal summary of decisions made by Toronto City Council. The City Clerk provides the formal documentation at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Expanded gaming at Woodbine Racetrack
Council debated expanded gaming at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack and passed a resolution in support of the proposal, subject to conditions. The approval sets the stage for the development of an integrated entertainment complex including gaming and non-gaming development at the Woodbine site in the northwest part of the city. Council also agreed to explore the possibility of designating some of the revenues from expanded gaming to a community benefits fund, and supported certain employment-related requirements tied to the expansion of gaming.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy is being developed through a collaborative process through 2015. This roadmap, last updated June 23, 2015, guides the work to be completed: Image Courtesy  of City of of Toronto
The Poverty Reduction Strategy is being developed through a collaborative process through 2015. This roadmap, last updated June 23, 2015, guides the work to be completed: Image Courtesy of City of of Toronto

Confronting poverty in Toronto
Council adopted an interim report on a strategy to address poverty in Toronto. In addition to adopting the vision and objectives for TO Prosperity: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, Council directed staff to undertake further discussions with residents and to provide Council with a final poverty reduction strategy and detailed implementation plan. Council also supported taking action on subjects such as eye examinations for schoolchildren in specific neighbourhoods and pursuing partnerships with the private sector to support the City’s poverty-reduction efforts.

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2013 Ontario Budget: Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition’s Response

isarc's image: The Ontario Government's 2013 Budget
isarc’s image: The Ontario Government’s 2013 Budget

On May 2, 2013 the Ontario government of Canada released the proposed 2013 budget to be debated at Queen’s Park over the next couple of weeks.

The provincial government has reported that the Ontario Child Benefit provides financial support that has helped lift 40,000 children out of poverty.

According to the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC):

  • The majority of Ontario children receiving social assistance benefits (67%) are in lone-mother led families
  • The provincial child poverty rate is 12.6%, or 345,000 children (using 2005 Statistics Canada data on tax income)
    • That is, one of every eight children in Ontario is living in poverty

    • The rate declined slightly from 2004 to 2005, but has been on an upward trend since 2001

    • Ontario’s child poverty rate is the fourth highest in Canada – 44% of all low-income children in Canada live in Ontario

  • Poverty rates for children in Aboriginal, racialized, new immigrant and lone mother-led families are at least double the provincial rate
  • In 2007, a single mother with one young child on social assistance had a family income that was at least $5,357 below the poverty line
  • Full-time, full-year work at Ontario’s new minimum wage of $10.25 an hour generates earnings that are approximately $3,000 below the poverty line
  • 70% of all low-income children in Ontario live in families where at least one parent is working part-time or full-time, yet the families are unable to earn enough to lift family income above the poverty line
  • Parents who are unable to be in the workforce and rely on social assistance struggle on welfare benefits that are as low now as they were in 1967
  • Average CEO salary has grown from 25 times the average Canadian income in 1980 to 250 times the average income in 2011
  • In 2009, Ontario spent $64 per person on affordable housing compared to the average among all provinces of $115 per person

Premier Kathleen Wynne highlighted the 2013 Budget’s proposed increases to the Ontario Child Benefit, which helps about one million low- to moderate-income children across the province in the following manner:

  • The Ontario government is proposing to increase the Ontario Child Benefit’s annual maximum payment by up to $210 over the next two years
    • This would raise the maximum payment from $1,100 to $1,310 per year for each child, helping parents with their family expenses

    • The Ontario Child Benefit helps low-income parents provide for their children, whether they are working or not

  • In order for parents to receive this year’s proposed increase of $110 this July, the Budget 2013 bill would have to be passed and proclaimed before July 1, 2013
    • The benefit would also increase by another $100 per year as of July 1, 2014

  • Parents don’t need to apply for the Ontario Child Benefit
    • To be eligible they must file their income taxes, register for the Canada Child Tax Benefit, have a child under age 18, and live in Ontario

The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC)‘s response to Ontario government’s 2013 budget is given in the following press release:

Continue reading “2013 Ontario Budget: Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition’s Response”

Put Food in the Budget Meeting & Fund-Raising Event Sept.28,2012

This video presents “DearMrPremiertrailer”:

  • Put Food in the Budget – Introducing our new trailer for the campaign we have all been working so hard on!
  • Stay tuned for the longer versions later and we hope to see you at our event on Sept 28th!

Put Food in the Budget Campaign Meeting

Friday, September 28, 2012

Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto

 11:30 am – 4:30 pm

The Put Food in the Budget campaign began in January 2009 in response to Premier McGuinty’s decision to exclude an increase in social assistance rates for adults in Ontario from his poverty reduction strategy.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign has had two demands since its formation in January 2009:

Continue reading “Put Food in the Budget Meeting & Fund-Raising Event Sept.28,2012”

ISARC RELIGIOUS LEADERS FORUM on Persistent Poverty: Elephants in the Room

ISARC Forum on Persistent Poverty: Elephants in the Room

This year on November 18th at Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, ISARC (Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition) will have a Religious Leaders Forum with the theme of Persistent Poverty: Elephants in the Room. The forum will run from 9:30 am to 3:30 am.

Continue reading “ISARC RELIGIOUS LEADERS FORUM on Persistent Poverty: Elephants in the Room”