Features·Community

Bramptonians gathered to discuss the provincial election issues that matter to them. Here's what we learned

CBC Toronto facilitated a discussion with a diverse group of 30 residents. Their insights will help guide our reporting ahead of the election.

The insights that came from this CBC Listening Session will help guide our reporting

CBC journalist Ali Raza speaks with Brampton residents at CBC Toronto's March 30 Listening Session. (The Double Jay Collective)

On March 30, CBC Toronto convened a diverse group of 30 Bramptonians and CBC journalists at Springdale Branch Library and posed a question:

What do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for your votes in the upcoming provincial election? 

That question will be guiding our work and the responses we receive will help shape our journalism ahead of the upcoming Ontario election. The event we organized is called a Listening Session and this work is part of CBC Toronto's emphasis on deep listening. A Listening Session is an engagement journalism initiative where we bring residents together to talk and listen in an intimate facilitated setting to build community connections and inform our reporting. These sessions form part of our community engagement initiatives that aim to intentionally connect with underserved communities and to let their insights drive how we decide to cover local stories.

CBC Community Producer Rignam Wangkhang poses a question to Brampton residents about the upcoming Ontario election. (The Double Jay Collective)

After the Brampton Listening Session, we synthesized all of the discussions to surface a set of key themes that mattered to the participants. 

What we learned:

Healthcare

  • One hospital is not enough for a rapidly growing city like Brampton, even two isn't enough.

  • Mental health care is inaccessible and there is a lack of culturally specific mental health care services.

  • Brampton is losing multigenerational homes because of the stigma associated with them. This loss in home care exacerbates the physician and hospital shortage.

  • There is no preparation for the wave of dementia and Alzheimer's, reinforcing the need for more culturally specific long-term care and/or comprehensive primary care.

  • Current ODSP benefits are not enough to live on, forcing people to choose between food or medication.

Housing and Affordability

  • The cost of housing is simply too high.

  • There is too much urban sprawl because single family homes and factories dominate the zoning. More density is required in all shapes and sizes. 

  • More home ownership programs for first-time home buyers are required.

  • The housing market needs increased regulation, such as targeting investors with multiple properties and illegal basements.

  • Basic needs are not being met because of inflation.

Transit and Environment

  • Brampton is inaccessible without a car. More investment in diverse modes of public transit is sorely needed, such as an LRT that serves all of Brampton and a walkable downtown area.

  • Parks and green spaces must be conserved and protected.

Education

  • There is racism and a lack of diversity among educators at schools in Brampton.

  • More culturally appropriate supports for the large population of international students is required.

  • Class sizes need to be reduced.

Reputation and Representation 

  • Overarching racism and white supremacy underpins the many issues in Brampton.

  • The reputation of Brampton needs to change and the media is complicit. Bramptonians experience microaggressions just because they're from Brampton.

  • Communities want to be genuinely involved about ideas without tokenism.

  • Brampton is changing due to a growing and younger population.These people want to see action, but their representatives aren't engaging them.

  • Brampton does not have political influence because residents are either in the process of getting Permanent Residency or the older generation is happy with what they have because it is better than their country of origin.

  • There is a lack of diversity among the people who hold power in Brampton.

Economic Development

  • Homegrown talent and youth are leaving the city because they feel like they don't have a future in the city.

  • Investment in Brampton's Downtown, the arts and small businesses is needed. There are too many vacant storefronts and small businesses aren't given incentives or opportunities.

  • Young people feel like nothing is happening culturally in the city and there is a lack of diversity in industries.

Artists from ThinkLink created a visual recording of the discussion at CBC's Brampton Listening Session. (ThinkLink Graphics)

Clearly, the Listening Session participants provided us with a wealth of ideas of how our journalism can cover the election issues that matter to Brampton. The next step is acting on these recommendations in concrete ways and continuing the relationship with participants. 

To start, we shared the full list of themes with our journalists. In the coming weeks, our team will be taking steps to act on these ideas. We are proud to share what we learned from this passionate group and look forward to sharing the reporting that comes from this Listening Session.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rignam Wangkhang is an award-winning Tibetan-Canadian multimedia producer with the CBC. He is currently the Community Producer for CBC Toronto, where he is helping the newsroom experiment with new ways of listening to, engaging, and reporting with underserved communities in the GTA. Previously, he was a Producer at the CBC Creator Network. He has produced documentaries, essays, and reported for the CBC from Yellowknife, Winnipeg, and Toronto.

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