What happens during an affordability crisis is that people who were already at the margins - some call them the working poor - now have to continue to work while not being able to afford to warm their homes or put food on the table.
If you’ve ever experienced having to make these difficult choices, you can appreciate the toll it takes on your mental health, your physical health and your perspective in general.
Today, the poorest Torontonians don’t live separately in different communities from the richest Torontonians.
The poorest Torontonians are hidden in plain sight, they work at your local grocery store, take the same highways and subways to work, and are bending to the point where they will break.
But again, we know this.
So when looking at budgets for 2023, what does Mayor John Tory do? He proposes to increase the police budget by $48.3 million, most of which will be used to hire 200 more Toronto Police Service officers.
Clearly, we’re not defunding the police and redistributing funds to other services in our city.
No, quite the opposite, Mayor Tory went as far as to say that “we must do everything we can to address crime and to keep people safe” meaning that police are the ‘everything’?
How does throwing money at the police force make communities safer? It doesn’t.
Do you know what actually qualifies as doing EVERYTHING we can to keep people safe? Let’s start with warming centres for the unhoused, full food banks for the hungry, community centres with extended hours for the general public to build connections. Where's the money for that?
What about more funding for the Toronto Community Crisis Service, a non-police response service with multidisciplinary teams of trained crisis workers?
Tory's proposal allows for just an additional $12 million dollars toward this service. Whereas the overall proposed budget hike for the police would represent almost three times more than the average increase during Tory's past two terms.
Now, we've all seen the headlines on the recent wave of violent incidents on Toronto's transit system. Still, if you look at Toronto Police's own crime statistics, you'll see that the city is actually experiencing an annual decline in homicides and shootings. The rate of sexual assaults has stayed pretty much the same over the last five years. And property crimes, with the exception of car thefts (which are way up by the way), have been on the decline for years.
Humour me, and consider the City of Toronto’s Dashboard which tracks over 65 social and economic indicators and provides high-level trends.
Food bank usage was up 59.57% in September 2022 from the previous year.
Shelter and Overnight Services Use for Families was up 77.82% at the end of Q3 2022 from the year before.
There is work to do - and trust me, this ain’t it.