This morning our Community Programs Manager, Leila Sarangi spoke at a City Hall press conference organized by Commitmement2Community (povertyreductionto.ca) to call out for real budget solutions rather than the cuts and fees, as proposed in the 2017 City Budget.
Leila talked about the impact high user fees and city service cuts has on women and children and our shock and disappointment that the City’s 2017 budget plan has no new investments in poverty reduction initiatives.
Read her full statement:
JULY 11, 2016
CITY HALL PRESS CONFERENCE: CLOSE THE FAIRNESS GAP
“Hello and good morning. My name is Leila Sarangi and I am the Community Programs Manager at Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke. We provide services to women and their dependents who have experienced violence, the vast majority of whom are living in poverty.
Over the past two years, through conversations that fed into the city’s consultation process, we spoke to over 2000 women across the city and heard clearly that the issues that need to be resolved to alleviate poverty are housing, jobs and childcare, in addition to other services including transit and recreation.
We also heard the City promise to implement the recommendations in these areas of their poverty reduction strategy when they unanimously adopted it last year.
So we were shocked and concerned when the City put forward a 2017 budget plan that considers a 2.6% cut across all divisions, with no new investments in poverty reduction initiatives and that pushes the implementation of any new revenue tools further down the road.
Statistics show that one in four Torontonians are poor. And to a great extent, when we talk about poverty in Toronto, we are talking about women’s poverty. With a persistent wage and income gap between women and men which is larger if she is racialized or indigenous, women are generally the poorest members of households, the poorest people in a neighbourhood, and the poorest citizens of a city. The recent revelation that Toronto has the highest child poverty rate in Canada is really an indicator of our city’s rate of poverty among mothers.
This budget plan will not be putting women or Torontonians on the path to prosperity.
Housing is a critical issue that we deal with on a daily basis. The lack of affordable and safe housing is the number one reason why women cannot leave abusive relationships, it’s why there are 175,000 people on the social housing waitlist, it is why our shelter system is backlogged. Without new investments, people will continue to struggle with precarious housing, homelessness, hunger. And this backlog will mean our emergency shelter system will continue to turn away 300 women and their children each night.
In this budget plan, people living on low-incomes will continue to struggle with rising transit fares, women will struggle with long commute times that make it difficult to drop off children and get to work on time and we have seen women lose jobs because of this. Women will continue to be unable go to work because they’re stuck on waitlists for affordable, local childcare, and because flexible childcare for those work outside of the traditional 9-5 hours just doesn’t exist.
We can look to examples outside of Toronto where investments into childcare directly led to broad economic returns in Quebec and have resulted in nearly equal workforce participation in Sweden’s proportional system.
This 2017 budget plan will not make this kind of difference. Instead, it will put low-income women and Torontonians further behind. Higher user fees and service cuts means the poorest in our communities will pay more and access less, we still won’t be addressing the City’s revenue problem, and the fairness gap between those who can afford to live in this city and those who face barriers to prosperity will continue to widen and polarize.
We urge the city to meaningfully close this fairness gap by implementing fair revenue tools and making real investments into the poverty reduction strategy in this coming budget. Thank you.”
For more information on how you can get involved in closing the fairness gap contact Leila at firstname.lastname@example.org.