In Toronto, for almost 20% of women and girls, housing is neither affordable, available, nor appropriate. This is because on average, women are poorer than men, especially when we are lone parents, elderly, live with a disability, victims of violence or belong to a marginalized group. In Toronto, there are more than 70,000 households on the waiting list for affordable housing.
We work with a variety of agencies, groups and individuals around housing concerns. Our recent actions include public deputations, raising awareness among women and community groups at housing forums and providing suggested changes to proposed Section 37 policies related to housing in the Official Plan Review.
In Toronto, women outnumber men in their regular use of public transit to get to and from work. According to the 2006 Census, public transit is the regular mode of transportation for 28% of women with paid employment to get to and from work, compared to 17% of men. Yet, transit schedules, fares, routes and design do not reflect these travel patterns. We are concerned with physical accessibility for women with babies and strollers, and those with mobility devices, availability and affordability and safety.
Our policy recommendations include ensuring that transit schedules, fares, routes and design reflect the needs of its user groups, including providing publicly accessible toilets along major transit and pedestrian travel routes; taking women’s safety into consideration; increased affordability and accessibility to public transit; and the re-establishment of TTC bus routes that have been cut.
Daycare fees per child are about $40 – $60 per day. While just over 114,000 children, age 12 and under, live in low income families in Toronto, available funding provides for only 24,000 child care subsidies. Lack of affordable child care disproportionately affects women who have lower incomes and bear the major responsibility for rearing children.
We work in collaboration with Toronto agencies and groups to advocate for adequate and sustained funding for childcare from all levels of government, as well as the expansion of child care services and the number of subsidized spaces to include universally accessible, high quality and regulated child care.
Recreation is vital to the health and well-being of women, especially those who experience isolation due to poverty, immigration, cultural or language barriers. Recreational activities bring women together and provide a space to connect, engage and create dynamic and inclusive communities.
TWCA works in partnership with community groups and agencies to advocate for the expansion of city-run before and after school programming, the expansion of priority centres in 2013, free adult programming in priority centres, well resourced and publicized subsidy-based programs until universal access to recreation is available across the city.
Women account for 52 percent of the population of Toronto – and in their complex and intersecting identities as racialized women, women with disabilities, First Nations/Aboriginal women, women without status, queer and trans women, young orolder women, they experience the city in varied ways. Poverty, homelessness, unemployment and under-employment, gender discrimination, domestic violence and sexual abuse remain the alarming reality for many girls and women in Toronto.
We identify areas where gender-disaggregated data is not available and recommend increasing gender disaggregated data within Toronto based research reports.
Cities that engage the diversity of their citizens in collaborative planning, budgeting and decision making also succeed in adapting to change and being innovative in this global era. Internationally, cities in numerous countries such as Brazil, Namibia, Peru, the Philippines and South African are working with local women’s groups to gender mainstream local governance. Toronto is Canada’s largest city. Our government should show leadership for women’s equality and equity. We advocate for anti-racist, anti-poverty, and gender mainstreaming for Toronto.
In the next few months, Toronto’s City Council will decide how to spend billions of dollars on Toronto’s infrastructure, services and community supports. Toronto’s budget is a major opportunity to promote gender equity by thinking about how spending and revenues impacts Toronto’s families – and especially women and girls.Gender equity acknowledges and analyses the underlying root causes that different groups of people face based on their social, cultural and economic identities and seeks to redress these through allocation of public resources.
TWCA’s New Deal for Women in Toronto:
These transformative actions are needed for gender-sensitive, people-centered, socially, economically sustainable cities.