Between September to November 2020, Councillor Wong-Tam hosted five virtual panel events featuring subject matter experts and community organizers discussing critical issues facing Torontonians through a budget lens.

Why Focus on a Budget Lens?

Every year, the City of Toronto embarks on a lengthy consultation process to review our budget. This is where we decide which programs to fund, including the Toronto Police Services; the TTC; Housing and shelters, and youth and recreation programming, and how we intend to pay for them. A budget expresses our values. It should reflect a commitment to real community safety.

When COVID-19 hit, the pre-existing cracks in our social safety net were laid wide open. Much more needs to be done to create healthy, safe, inclusive neighbourhoods that work for everyone and the city budget can be a gateway for equitable access to programming. While Toronto looks to rebuild and recover, these conversations are critical in ensuring that no one is left behind.

Now, more than ever, we have to be specific about how we direct our finances. How do we determine the health of our communities? How can we make sustainable investments for our future? How can we help take care of ourselves and each other? Community revitalization is not just about bricks and mortar. Successful community revitalization is one where both the physical infrastructure and social development receive equal commitment and focus. Looking towards the future, this is how we can make our priorities known.

Review these tabs to learn more about each topic and the panel discussion.

Every day we walk through our own neighbourhoods and local streets, visiting parks, friends and businesses. We each travel the city in different ways; walking, cycling or taking public transit. What makes us feel safe as we visit friends and businesses in our neighbourhoods? How do we get to our local coffee shop? Is there a public green space we can explore? If we feel sick, is there a nearby clinic? When we ask these questions, we consider the social determinants of health, including disability, food insecurity, access to healthcare, housing, gender and gender identity, to name a few. All of this and more contribute to our own wellness and that of our neighbourhoods.

What do healthy communities look like? What do our streets look like? How can our budget reflect the needs of our neighbourhoods? Together, we examined how the City of Toronto budget can impact the health, safety, and wellness of our communities.


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Read a transcription of the panel event

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