Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for the opportunity to address the committee on such a very important issue as poverty reduction strategy.
I'm very aware that you've already heard from our staff, and I very much appreciate that they've talked to you about the technical elements of our poverty reduction strategy, which is called “TO Prosperity”. I'm therefore going to focus my remarks on my perspective as deputy mayor responsible for this role, and also on looking at the innovation and collaboration that we can have between orders of government, because that's a very important piece of it.
I will just remind you that on November 4, 2015, almost two years ago, the city council unanimously adopted the TO Prosperity strategy. It's a 20-year prosperity plan to advance equity, opportunity, and, obviously, prosperity for all Toronto residents, and to build a strong safety net as well as a lifeline to keep people out of poverty and to pull them out if they get there.
It's a systems strategy and focuses on five different issues, all of which are in our jurisdiction; we focus only on our jurisdiction. They are housing stability, transit equity, service access, food access, and quality jobs and livable wages—sort of like the fingers on your hand—with an equity lens and systemic change.
We have three overriding objectives that guide our work.
The first is to address immediate needs, or what some call the “low-hanging fruit”, and it is really, for many, something that can make a big difference in their lives immediately. Therefore, I want to ensure that these vital services are well funded, well coordinated, and meet the immediate needs of our people who are living in poverty. I've worked with the FCM, and I can tell you that in Toronto there's a huge difference in the numbers, with one in four children living in poverty as opposed to 8% across the country.
Second, we must create pathways to prosperity. We want to ensure that city programs and all the services are integrated, client-centred, and focused on early intervention.
The third is to drive systemic change. We want to leverage the economic power of the city to stimulate job growth through things such as social procurement, which is a very important policy piece; to support local businesses in their drive to help; and, to drive inclusive economic growth and tackle deep-rooted social inequities.
There are some areas, obviously, in which the city has many tools, resources, and opportunities, and we can use those as an authority to lead and to take meaningful action. In other areas, the city looks to collaboration with other orders of government, and that's really what I'm here to push today. We also work with the private sector. Jobs on Bay Street are very important, as is labour, which helped in some of our youth employment and in community organizations that we collaborate with.
At the city, we are very encouraged that the federal government is committed to developing a new poverty reduction strategy, and more and more municipalities—as I said, I'm on the board of the FCM—and the provinces are developing strategies as well. What I would suggest to you is that they need to all come together. Given that there's enormous economic potential for collaboration and coordination, it seems to me that we have an obligation as well.
To be very clear, without resources and the support of the federal government, the efforts of cities—our city and others—and other efforts within the city of Toronto cannot have the desired impact. There are three areas that I would emphasize where there should be intergovernmental collaboration; coordination has been an enormous need and has an enormous potential for us. Those areas are housing, child care, and transit. I'm sure you've heard that right across the country. These are the key components that most of the existing poverty reduction strategies across the country are focusing on, and I would suggest that the committee look very carefully at these things.
In my view, the federal poverty reduction strategy in housing should be very closely aligned with the national housing strategy, which I hope is going to be released later on in 2017, and should include significant investments in building affordable housing, ownership housing, and maintaining and repairing social housing—I'd underscore that.
As Mayor Tory has stressed, the lack of affordable rental and ownership housing in Toronto, combined with the terrible state of repair of much of our social housing, is undermining the quality of our residents' lives, denying the residents their basic rights, and negatively impacting Toronto's economy and its capacity to attract new business and new business investment.
As we suggested, regarding the national strategy, there are several opportunities for immediate action by the federal government that would have an immediate impact. For example, it is the position of the city, as well as the FCM, that it should maintain existing levels of funding and reinvest savings from the expiring social housing agreement. We've pushed for that over quite a period of time.
In our city, as in others, we're trying to help people avoid poverty. Therefore, it's important that we invest in the capital repairs for the TCHC, our housing company. That's an urgent need, and a massive one, so we require a lot of support from you, the federal government, to repair that essential infrastructure. It's an ask of $864 million, and we know that's a lot, but we've put our money in and we're asking the federal and the provincial governments to match that. Of course, as you well know, our population keeps growing, so we also need to build more affordable housing.
We have a couple of long-term investments that I would suggest to you. One of them is also the position of the federation.
We're calling for $12.6 billion in phase two for social infrastructure over the next eight years. We've been working very hard to lobby for that and we're waiting for March 22. In addition to that, however, we have what's called the mayor's “open door” program. It has various incentives such as taxation waivers, and it helps us to develop our program. We think you could do that.
The second and third ones, I think, are more obvious to you. They include child care. The national framework for early learning and child care is coming onto the agenda, and we would hope that you're working with that. Perhaps you would like to know that if you have a child in Toronto and put your child into child care and have no subsidy, it's $2,350 a month. It's hugely expensive.