Platform: The Gomberg for Mayor Platform Plank on Poverty

The Gomberg for Mayor platform plank on Poverty

Same old horror: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Poverty is increasing in Toronto. The growing disparity between rich and poor and the decline of the middle income sector in Canada is unconscionable. Inequality in Toronto is not something to be proud of. Societies with better income distribution have a healthier citizenry overall; that’s the direction we should aspire to, not backwards where some prosper while others fall into the cracks.

Provincial downloading of social services from the Harris government is one major cause of increasing poverty in Toronto. Cuts in welfare rates coupled with rising rents, shortage of housing, lack of subsidised childcare, and high unemployment rates means that one third of children in Toronto live in poverty.

Poverty and the effects of poverty tend to be exaggerated in many ethno-racial groups, according to a study commissioned by the City of Toronto and published in March, 2000 entitled the Ornstein Report. Many groups experience severe or significant disadvantage. The study, which analysed 1996 census figures, found, for example, that child poverty ranged from under 10% for the best-off groups, to over 60 % for the worst-off. Over 40% of families in most racial minority communities in Toronto live below the poverty line. Regardless of the measure used, the ethno-racial variation is huge. Non completion of high school ranges from under 10% in some groups to almost 70% in others. With the 1996 unemployment rate in Toronto at 10.8%, under 10% of European adults were unemployed, whereas over 45% of Ghanaians, and over 25% of Afghans, were unemployed.

In addition to advocating for fair provincial and federal funds/legislation/policy for social services, housing, and public transit, and besides building social housing and shelters, community gardens and sustainable job creation, there is much that we Torontonians can do to redress the inequities in our community and ensure healthy, long lived lives for all our citizens.

As Mayor of Toronto I will Fight So That

1. The City of Toronto ensures access to information (in many languages) on rights and responsibilities regarding access to welfare, disability benefits and other programs for low income people, including how to appeal a decision.

2. The City of Toronto establishes channels of communication between the City departments responsible for social housing and welfare.

3. The City of Toronto boosts dental, daycare and other special-needs programs for people on social assistance and low income.

4. The City of Toronto launches legal challenges against provincial downloading of social assistance eligibility.

5. The City of Toronto adopts measures to resist the province’s clawback of the national Child Benefit Supplement.

Ornstein, Michael (March, 2000). Ethno-Racial Inequality in Toronto: Analysis of the 1996 Census. Prepared for the Chief Administrator’s Office of the City of Toronto.