Real life experience at the forefront of new #TacklePovertyTO discussions

The city knows where poverty exists, and now it's working on a fresh plan to provide more supports in those neighbourhoods.

Public events will guide new poverty reduction strategy

Ann Marie Moulton, a community advocate in Scarborough, will explain the dangers of poverty to city officials on Monday. (Ann Marie Moulton)

The city knows where poverty exists, and now it's working on a fresh plan to provide more supports in those neighbourhoods.

"We are becoming, in Toronto, a tale of two cities," said Coun. Joe Mihevc, who heads council's reduction efforts.

It's not too late to stop that divide, Mihevc says, but the city needs to act on a number of fronts. On Monday evenings for the next five weeks, save Easter week, there will be public discussions about the key issues relating to poverty, including jobs, housing and access to transportation.

The public talks, called #TacklePovertyTO, will feature conversations between experts and those with lived experience, with the goal of refreshing the official poverty reduction strategy so it's ready when a new council takes office later this fall.

Ann Marie Moulton, a community advocate in Scarborough, is set to speak at the first event about the conditions she sees every day.

"I've watched how poverty and all of that can destroy young lives," she told CBC Toronto.

Moulton has worked with homeless youth, a group she says has been constantly denied opportunities available elsewhere in the city, but she says she sees poverty throughout the community.

"I mean people get up every day fearing eviction. People have to walk to save a token," she said.

City looking at ways to add quality jobs

The city's currently taking some action to alleviate issues like this, including rolling out what it calls a "fair fare pass" for low-income transit users, but Moulton says there's a long way to go to build an equitable city. 

Monday's discussion focuses on creating quality jobs that lead to liveable incomes. Mihevc says when he talks to people dealing with poverty, it's often one of the first things that come up.

"They want to be able to have a good job where they make sufficient money so that they don't need to go into social housing, so that they don't need subsidies for child care," he said.

"They want the security of knowing that a decent day's work gets a decent day's pay and they can support themselves and their families."

Mihevc says the city has an important role to play in creating those jobs. For example, he'd like to see the city require contractors it does business with — the city contracts out billions of dollars worth of work every year —  to do training in, or hire from, neighbourhoods struggling with poverty.

Poor pushed into certain areas

Those neighbourhoods are becoming more and more defined.

"If you are poor you're going to be pushed into certain areas of Toronto," Mihevc said.

Those areas often have a combination of problems including everything from poor public transit to a lack of fresh produce at local supermarkets.

"There's going to be a lot of strikes against you," he said.

The events come after the recent release of the Toronto Vital Signs report, which found a growing wealth gap in the city and that more are struggling to attain a good quality of life.

The topics that will be debated are:

  • March 12 – Quality jobs and livable incomes
  • March 19 – Food access
  • March 26 – Service access and coordination
  • April 16 – Transportation equity
  • April 23 – Housing stability

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.