To the City of Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy 2020 Project Team
You are organizing a public discussion, on January 30 and 31 2014, to share the results of the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods consultation process that took place last year. The team is purportedly seeking “advice on the options for selecting Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) that are based on the consultations and Urban Heart.”
However, the report on the consultation has not been provided to community residents or their organizations. Repeated requests by JFAAP members, going as far back as mid-November 2013, for this document have gone unheeded. Without this information it is impossible for us to discuss the findings with community members in preparation for the upcoming meeting.
At the 5 November 2013 consultation in the Jane and Finch area (organized as an “afterthought” in response to the demand for a local consultation by JFAAP), hundreds of local community residents attended and made it loud and clear that in their view the aim of these “public conversations” was not to consult, but rather to legitimize impending reductions to resources to economically disadvantaged areas of the City.
As the City’s June 2013 Ward Heath Profiles show, our areas are the worst on a number of key indicators in comparison with the City of Toronto as a whole. We deal with very high levels of poverty, unemployment and underemployment, precarious jobs, poor housing, and racism and other systemic barriers resulting in:
- Higher proportion of low income residents
- Lower median household income level
- Higher proportion of unemployed people
- Higher proportion of people with less than a high school education
- Higher proportions of recent and total immigrants
- Higher proportion of low birth weight babies
- Higher rate of teenagers giving birth
- Higher proportion of kindergarten students who are vulnerable in terms of readiness to learn.
- Higher rate of respiratory disease hospitalization
- Higher rate of cardiovascular disease hospitalization and mortality
- Higher rate of sexually transmitted infections.
Community groups and residents must be involved in policy decisions which affect their lives and in the design and implementation of the services and resources that impact on the well-being of their neighbourhoods. Clear and accessible processes for transparency and information sharing are key elements of meaningful public participation. Failing to share the report with the community participants that were at that consultations, prior to the meeting that has been organized to discuss it, makes a travesty of ”public” participation. So, too, does the location of these meetings–at the North York Civic Centre and Metro Hall—areas that will limit the participation of many of community members.
Jane Finch Action Against Poverty is again asking for the report and/or the relevant documents on the Fall 2013 consultations prior to the 30 January meeting. Further, we are asking that this information—and the meetings to discuss it—be fully accessible to members of our community and the other affected communities.
Jane Finch Action Against Poverty
January 24, 2014