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FORUM: We are here to support you (May 2020)

June 15th, 2020 · No Comments

On the road to recovery and a sustainable future

By Mike Layton

As we prepare for a summer like we have never seen in Toronto, I want to take a moment to look back on what our community has accomplished so far. Whether you are part of the frontline response, or are doing your part by practicing physical distancing, this has been a challenging time. However, the sacrifices we have all been making have worked and we have saved lives. 

When the worldwide response to COVID-19 began to dominate our daily lives, something special hap-pened in our neighbourhoods. There was an almost instantaneous outpouring of help for our most vulnerable, a banding together of communities, and the creation of many new networks of support. The calls we received from people who needed help were matched by the number of those that asked how they could be of service. 

The City of Toronto has been working hard to support people in the countless ways this pandemic has affected our lives. It’s been heartening to see all levels of government working together, despite differ-ences, to build new programs to address unemployment, support people experiencing homelessness, and launch new supports for small businesses to slow economic impacts. As I have said many times, no one should have to lose their homes or livelihood because of the impacts of this pandemic. 

As part of the City’s recovery effort, I have been given the role of connecting with our unions and workers as part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force. 

Over the past month, I have been consulting with labour leaders from our many unions, labour econo-mists, and other stakeholders who represent freelancers and workers in the gig economy to provide a set of recommendations to support workers impacted by the pandemic, and to prepare ourselves for a better future. 

I have been hearing three key things: the need to stabilize the care sector and protect the health, safety, and rights of workers; the need to improve supports and benefits for workers and their families; and the importance of ensuring the recovery achieves climate goals and builds resiliency and equity. This is not a traditional recession, so we should not default to a traditional stimulus package. 

Through addressing the long-standing policy failures and lack of adequate protections for all workers, both of which have become crystal clear through this crisis, we have the opportunity to rebuild our economy in a way that provides more security for workers and communities. 

We will be faced with the choices of what kind of jobs we are creating, what infrastructure investments we are making and what projects we are funding. It is critical for our future as a city and country that we invest in measures that help address, not compound, the climate crisis, reduce inequality and that build resilience. 

We need to act now to avoid future crises. Investment in building affordable housing is key, as it is a fundamental building block to reduce inequality, insecurity and poverty among Torontonians. It has also been reinforced during this crisis that adequate shelter is essential to our health both immediately and over the longer-term. 

As we move into planning for recovery, it’s important to remember that the process will not happen overnight. We should take the lessons we have learned through the crisis, and make sure we invest in recovery efforts that create stability for our communities and build resiliency for the future. 

It is also imperative that we continue to follow advice from our public health professionals. I have full confidence in Toronto Public Health to lead us through this situation and keep us all safe. We must stay the course, because it has been working, and you have my commitment that I will do all I can to ensure that residents of Ward 11, and Toronto, are supported through this pandemic. 

Mike Layton is city councillor for Ward 11, University-Rosedale.

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Tags: Annex · Opinion