Faith leaders from across Toronto marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Oct. 17 by occupying City Hall and performing a “pray-in” in front of Mayor John Tory’s office. Among those taking part in the demonstration was Bishop Kevin Robertson, the area bishop of York-Scarborough.
The faith group, called “Faith in the City,” says Mayor Tory and City Council are not doing enough to combat poverty and called for greater investments in the city’s upcoming budget, expected to be released in February.
“We have seen Council commit to strategies and projects to tackle staggering inequality in our city, but when the time comes to funding these priorities, our leaders can’t seem to make the leap,” said Imam Habeeb Alli. “We’re here to urge Council to stick to its own promises in the upcoming budget.”
Council unanimously adopted the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2015 and has provided funding for some measures but says it cannot fully fund the plan without increasing taxes or using some other forms of revenue.
The faith leaders affirmed the need for good transit, affordable housing and the importance of good jobs in eradicating poverty. “Our city’s most vulnerable residents, including one in four children, desperately need access to affordable housing and reliable transit to help lift them out of poverty,” said Elder Kim Running Bear McDougall of the Oneida Nation.
“It is important to unite with people across Toronto in pushing for action on inequality and poverty,” said Bishop Robertson. “We must work together to urge our politicians to follow through on their own commitments.”