2018 Community Conversations
Every four years, the City of Toronto updates its plan to refine the actions the City will take to achieve the recommendations in the strategy. This update includes listening to residents. Over the summer, through online submissions and facilitated community conversations across the city, Torontonians provided their thoughts about what the priorities should be for the strategy from 2019 to 2022.
The Community Conversations consultation closed on October 5, 2018. However, the Poverty Reduction Office always welcomes your thoughts and feedback. Get in touch with us to let us know what you think.
The Poverty Reduction Office (PRSO) will now take all of the feedback we have received and summarize the key themes and priority actions identified by residents. A summary report of what we heard will be posted on this page this Fall.
Starting later in October 2018, the PRSO will engage with City staff across all of the City of Toronto’s divisions, agencies, and corporations, as well as key community partners and the Lived Experience Advisory Group, to develop a draft 2019-2022 Action Plan. The draft plan will be refined in consultation with residents and key partners in early 2019. The action plan will then go before Toronto City Council for consideration shortly afterward.
What did we ask?
The City created a Community Conversation Guide to help guide the conversations. The guide was available in a number of formats:
- Accessible text version
- Printable PDF (English) Also available in Chinese (Simplified, Traditional), Farsi, Spanish, Tamil
- Microsoft Word version (English)Also available in Chinese (Simplified, Traditional), Farsi, Spanish, Tamil
Based on resident feedback, the City is always exploring new ways to better engage communities in decision-making at the municipal level. Governments often use large forums for consultations with residents. Some work; some don’t. We have learned that community-led conversations are an effective way to ensure that as many people as possible have meaningful opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas.
Conversations that happen locally in a neighbourhood reduce the need to travel far; when they are hosted by community leaders and in existing community programs, they can create better conditions for safety; when more of them happen, more people are able to actively participate.
The Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy Office partnered with members of the Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG), community leaders and animators, to create Community Conversations across the city. In these intimate conversations, members of Toronto’s diverse communities meaningfully shared their ideas with their neighbours on how the City can develop the next set of actions to achieve the objectives of the Strategy.
With three levels of government in Canada (City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, Government of Canada), it can be hard to keep track of who does what. The City (municipal government) is the closest level of government to residents. The City has many roles to play in creating an equitable Toronto.
The City can make policies and regulations to govern behaviour; create, fund and administer services; influence hiring practices; invest in community leadership and support community capacity.
There are also limitations to the City’s authority. Some changes must be done by the Province or Federal Government, and in these instances, the City can advocate the other levels of government to achieve change. Below is a list of the policies and programs that City decisions and budget can affect.
Advocate to the Provincial and Federal Governments for Funding and Change in Legislation
Arts and Culture Facilities/Events
Consultation and Engagement
Emergency Medical Services
Equity, Diversity & Human Rights
Funding to Community Agencies
Housing / Affordable Housing
Municipal Licensing (Animals, Buildings, Businesses)
Parks and Forestry
Recreation and Community Centres
Shelters and Transitional Homes
Social Assistance and Social Services
Streets and Roads
Toronto Community Housing
Waste and Recycling Services
Water and Sewage
Three years of Poverty Reduction actions have made a difference:
- Free TTC for children 12 and under, providing access for an estimated 266,000 Toronto children per year
- The first phase of Fair Pass for low-income transit riders was introduced in April 2018 providing a 33% discount for single-fare rides and a 21% discount for monthly passes for residents receiving Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program assistance
- Unlimited TTC rides within a 2-hour period on a single fare will begin in August 2018
- 2,072 new affordable rental homes and 605 new affordable ownership homes were approved by the end of 2017
- 5,563 housing allowances provided to support individuals and families with the cost of housing in 2017
- More voices with lived experience of poverty included at City Hall through the launch of the Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG)
- Regular presence of the LEAG at City Hall, working to monitor, advocate, raise awareness, and educate the City on issues of poverty and collaborating to help inform policy based on the voice of lived experience that each member brings to the group
- Expanded the Student Nutrition Program to 621 sites, serving over 208,000 children and youth annually
- Increased the number of Enhanced Youth Spaces in recreation centres to 10 and Youth Hubs in libraries to 11 across Toronto
- 18 City recreation centres now offer free programs and York Recreation Centre was added in 2017
- 5,374 new child care fee subsidies were added to the system through a combination of Provincial and City funding
- Awarded more than $550,000 in City procurement contracts to diverse suppliers in 2017 and included requirements to generate employment and training opportunities in 17 large-scale City infrastructure projects
- Launched the Construction Connections service hub at Yonge-Eglinton Employment & Social Services, connecting over 100 residents to career development services in construction, with over 25 starting career paths in 2017
- Over 4,200 youth were connected with job opportunities in 2017 through the City’s Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) and the Youth Employment Partnerships (YEP) network
That’s a good start, but it’s not enough. Many Torontonians still cannot meet their basic needs on a regular basis, and even more are unable to build stable economic lives. In 2018, the work will continue, with improvements to key services and bold plans–including but not limited to child care, housing and transit.
The Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy is a 20-year strategy which will run from 2015-2035. It is divided into four-year term action plans that coincide with Toronto City Council’s cycle of decision-making. The next term action plan will be from 2019 to 2022.
- In April, Toronto City Council voted to create a Poverty Reduction Strategy.
- A Community Advisory Committee and a Senior City Staff Steering Committee guided the process. This first phase of community engagement involved community conversations, online questionnaires, multi-sector dialogue, and City divisional drill downs.
- In February and March, close to 2,000 Toronto residents participated in public meetings, Days of Dialogue, community conversations, and online questionnaires that shaped TO Prosperity: Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy.
- Participants in this broad and inclusive community engagement process, many of whom have lived or are currently living in poverty, offered concrete actions that the City can take to improve housing stability, service access, transit equity, food access, and the quality of jobs. Participants also discussed the need to continually involve residents with lived experience in City planning and decision-making processes.
- On November 4, City Council unanimously approved the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy. This decision included approval of a Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) comprised of Toronto residents who are familiar with the conditions and impacts of poverty, to contribute their expertise to the effective implementation and monitoring of the City’s poverty reduction initiatives.
- In the spring, City staff partnered with community organizations to engage hundreds of Toronto residents to provide input on how the Lived Experience Advisory Group (the LEAG) should work.
- On September 24, information from the community conversations was consolidated, shared, and shaped into a Design Day where residents were invited to decide on the model of the LEAG, including composition and terms of membership, frequency and location of meetings, communication frequency, audience and tactics, and supports required.
- In December, Council adopted the TO Prosperity 2016 Progress Report and TO Prosperity 2017 Work Plan.
- Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy Year 1 Report to Community was published and disseminated through community partners.
- In December, close to 350 residents applied to join the LEAG.
- In January, 40 residents were interviewed and 20 selected to join the LEAG.
- In February, the LEAG held their first meeting and continued to meet at least once a month for the rest of the year, to actively participate in advocacy, education, and awareness and the monitoring of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
- Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy 2017 Report to Community was published and disseminated by members of the LEAG and community partners.
- In January, Council adopted the Poverty Reduction Strategy 2017 Progress Report and the Poverty Reduction Strategy 2018 Work Plan.
- In March and April, the #TacklePovertyTO Speaker Series invited residents to share ideas with community advocates, members of the LEAG and City staff to begin to shape the activities of the next term action plan of the Strategy (2019-2022).
- From June to October, residents across Toronto will have the opportunity to build on the Speaker Series feedback and introduce additional ideas and recommendations through these Community Conversation Guides.
- In 2019, the 2019-2022 term action plan of the Poverty Reduction Strategy is submitted to Toronto City Council for consideration.