What does a Poverty Reduction Strategy mean for an equitable food system?

It’s the economy, Toronto.
Push for a Poverty Reduction Strategy ahead of the City Council vote on November 3.

Under our current socio-economic system, poverty is the root cause of hunger. And poverty is a reality for over 20% of Toronto residents.

The destructiveness of income inequality is well-documented. It behaves as an economic inefficiency that translates economic power into political power, it restricts access to opportunities by low-income households, and it increases the instability of the food system (among other repercussions).

Social Planning Toronto’s TogetherToronto.ca campaign highlights that over 1 in 5 Toronto residents live in poverty, a scathing statistic that further rises to 1 in 3 for racialized groups. In addition, a United Way Toronto report (2015) that follows the widely-influential Three Cities study (2010) indicates that income inequality hits Toronto’s inner suburbs the hardest. As it pertains to food specifically, the statistics are troubling. Though the form and content of suburbs are beginning to transform, the suburbs are infamous for a reason: car-oriented design and sprawling access services are barriers to healthy and affordable food options. And increasingly, Toronto’s suburbs are the homes of immigrants and low-income families. This racialization of Toronto’s neighbourhoods worsens food security issues in the city and must be addressed by action on poverty. In fact, Three Cities study warns that 60% of Toronto households could be low-income by 2025.

The City of Toronto has been working with community groups and citizens to develop a Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy that addresses both short- term needs and the long-term strategy required to drive systemic change. A summary interim report was released in June 2015 citing the following major needs:

  • affordable housing;
  • access to social services without barriers;
  • improved transportation;
  • jobs and income support; and
  • access to healthy and affordable food.

Opportunely, on July 7th, City Council voted 40-2 in favour of adopting an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy. Let’s keep up the pressure in order to ensure that City Hall continues to push for an equitable city for all!

City Council will be voting again November 3 on a motion to implement a Poverty Reduction Strategy for the City of Toronto. Between now and then, a number of Committees will debate the issues affecting people living in poverty and make recommendations.

What can I do?

  • Sign this petition to inform your councillor that you support the Poverty Reduction Strategy
  • Contact your Councillor and ask them to vote to adopt the community’s proposals when they adopt the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS)
  • Speak out on October 20 at the City Executive Committee discussing the PRS staff report. Social Planning Toronto encourages residents, community volunteers, board members, business owners, faith leaders, and other to come out for a final push: Tuesday, October 20th at 9:30am, City Hall, Committee Room 1. To register to depute or to send in a written deputation contact Dela Ting by email: lsc@toronto.ca, phone: 416-397-4592, or fax: 416-392-1879.
  • Attend or speak at the following committees and boards meetings about the city’s recommendations


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