Story and photos by TWCA intern Maju Tavera


This is a hypothetical conversation of two women who run into each other in the bus. They chat about the City Budget.


Zoë: Hi Laura


Laura: Hi Zoë


The two women talk about their lives…


Zoë: Do you know the news about the City Budget?


Laura: No, what is that?


Zoë: The City Budget is what the City Council spends on implementing social programs that are going to impact our daily life. These days the City of Toronto is reviewing its budget, deciding how to spend the money, which programs are going to continue, which ones are not.


Laura: Can you tell me? I am not aware of these issues. Actually since I moved to Toronto, I’ve been living in another reality, maybe in another Toronto!


Zoë: Of course, I will not touch every single detail, but I can give you my opinion about it, my likes and dislikes, the main issues that I think concern most of us :)


I would say that the news is not optimistic, the City’s Budget Committee is not including some programs that would be beneficial for our communities. For instance Social Housing is continuously in the agenda, and it will be there forever if there is no will from the Federal and Provincial governments to tackle and resolve this crisis. Do you know that there are over 95,000 households waiting to get into social housing? You have probably noticed there are a lot of condos rising up, but they are not for us, they are not affordable for low income households. I used to live in Regent Park but after the mixed income project I was displaced and I cannot afford the rent that I am paying now. I applied for social housing; I am one of the number that I mentioned to you previously.


Another big problem that we are facing in this city is homelessness, the number of drop-in centres are ridiculous, just two. I just talked to a woman who uses the warming centres, and told me the problem with the shelters is that they are overcrowded. Many homeless die on the streets of Toronto because of the constant failure of administrations in implementing sufficient shelters for homeless people. There is a pilot housing program to help supporting long term shelters, but now the council says that they are not going to fund these centres in 2017! This is unacceptable; everyone has the right to housing, what were they thinking?


Laura: I’m pretty sure that the Council also sees about childcare issues, right?


Zoë: That’s right, the Council also has a role in the implementation of childcare programs. As you know we are really tired of false promises about childcare for everyone, it sounds like a utopia!! I have to work long hours. My children are on the waiting list, but there are 12,000 children waiting. I have to get up early in the morning to take them to my mother’s house that is in the opposite direction to my work, I spend long hours on public transportation, it is just too much!


Laura: Gosh, I can’t believe all this, Zoë! I wasn’t aware of these issues, definitely I need to get involved and follow up! Can we continue talking next week?


Zoë: Sure! Just remember that you can get information from the City council website, I know that it is not easy to understand at first hand the massive structure of City Hall and its programs and services, but little by little I can explain at least the main issues that touch all the residents of this city. See you next week.


This story continues! Read Act II here.