What We Heard At My Town Hall On Gender Responsive Budgeting

Thank you to all who came out on January 18 for my 2018 Town Hall on Gender-Responsive Budgeting. For the second year in a row, residents from Ward 27 and across the Toronto gathered at the 519 Community Centre to discuss and workshop gender equity in the Toronto city budget. My team and I were blown away by the level of participation and excitement for gender-equity budgeting as a catalyst for long-term, sustainable equitable service delivery in Toronto.


We heard from residents about the urgent need for a gender-based analysis in the budget. The burden of ongoing budget cuts and the lack of investment in social services fall largely on the shoulders of women and girls, especially those who are racialized and low-income. 

These systemic failures are shocking. In Toronto, 37% of single mother-led families in live in poverty. 59% of minimum wage workers are women and over 25% are precariously employed. According to YWCA Toronto, Toronto's largest women's organization, the annual child care fees are $19,200 a year while the average annual salary for women is $32,000. 70% of part-time workers are women, who are not eligible for subsided childcare.


The exorbitant cost of housing further marginalize women and worsen the detrimental cycle of poverty and violence. According to Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), the number one reason why women are unable to leave violent relationships is the lack of safe, affordable housing. And while the world wakes up to the realities and prevalence of intimate-partner violence, the City of Toronto has not acted on a gender-based violence strategy.  And still, women earn 75.3% of what men earn for the same job. Racialized and trans women experience an even larger pay gap.

These are not merely statistics. They are human realities and lived experiences of women in our city – women that carry the burden of poverty. Over 170 engaged participants at my second Town Hall on Gender-Responsive Budgeting confirmed what I always knew: the residents of Toronto care deeply about equity and social justice. We care about building a fair and inclusive city that meets the needs of all residents. We are witnessing first-hand how massive service gaps are further exacerbating gender inequity.

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Upcoming Community Vigils


It is a tragic time for the LGBTQ community, our neighbourhood, and the city. We are all grieving the lives lost as the recent tragedy impacting our community unfolds.

We all remember the ones still missing. The issues we face today are unfortunately not new and touch many marginalized and vulnerable communities. We welcome everyone to join us to grieve together, heal together, and rise together. 

Multifaith Vigil For The Five Murdered Men

When: Monday, February 12, 2017, 6:00pm 
Metunited Sanctuary, 56 Queen Street East

Join the Metropolitan United Church for the Community Laments, A Multifaith Vigil for the Five Murdered Men, the Fallen in our Midst. More information: https://www.metunited.org/jmv4/index.php/events/eventdetail/6015/multifaith-vigil-for-the-five-murdered-men


Community Vigil at Barbara Hall Park and The 519

When: Tuesday, February 13, 2017, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Barbara Hall Park, 519 Church Street

LGBTQ community organizations have come together to organize a community vigil to offer a safe space for our communities to grieve and express their feelings. Organizing partners include The 519ASAAPLGBT Youth LinePride TorontoSherbourne Health CentreToronto People With AIDS Foundation, Toronto HIV/AIDS Network, The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

Food will be served at the event. Counselling support and child minding will be available on site. Facilities are accessible and ASL interpretation will be provided. RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/2080699252214280/ 


My Statement on Additional Charges Against Bruce McArthur

January 29, 2018

Today's news and the additional three murder charges against Bruce McArthur are shocking and disturbing. The connection of Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi and Dean Lisowick to this case will come as painful news to the friends and family of the missing who have been in the dark for some time. Even for the brief and limited occasions I had to meet a number of the missing, I have found recent revelations to be very difficult to process. Simply put, these situations have left me heartbroken.

The community deserves thanks for their time and effort. The information passed on to authorities and the time search parties and volunteers have spent looking for leads was significant. I am confident that this was of great value in advancing the investigation this far.

The police investigators and officers who have put in intensive effort to get us this far deserve our thanks, as well. Based on what has been shared with the public, to date, we are still grappling with the scale of what has happened.

For those who are worried about the time it has taken to solve a number of these missing persons cases, I share your concerns and am confident that there will be an opportunity to better understand the inner workings of this complex case in the near future. For those who are looking for a way to mourn and come together, I can tell you that I am working with community and faith leaders to make an opportunity for us to unite in the spirit of healing.


Anyone with information regarding this case or disappearances, even if it seems insignificant, should call project Prism at 416-808-2021.


Statement from Kristyn Wong-Tam on Bill S-238, Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act

Senator Fabian Manning, Chair
Senator Mark Gold, Deputy Chair
Senator Jim Munson, 3rd Member
Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans

Good day Senators and thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee on this important matter. My name is Kristyn Wong-Tam. I am a Toronto City Councillor and the Chair of the Toronto East York Community Council.

Prior to my election to Toronto City Council, I served six years as the past-President of the Toronto Chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC). The CCNC is a national non-profit organization with 27 chapters across Canada and a community leader for Chinese Canadians in promoting a more just, respectful and inclusive society.

Today, I have travelled from Toronto to extend my personal support for Bill S-238, short titled, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act.

As you likely know, shark “finning” is the cruel act of capturing an entire shark to remove only the fins by cutting them off with a blade and tossing the shark body generally while still alive back into the water. The finless shark unable to swim, falls to the bottom of the ocean while in agonizing pain and where it will die in a matter of days by suffocation, drowning or killed by other ocean life.

Although shark finning in domestic waters was outlawed in Canada in 1994, this cruel, wasteful and unsustainable practice is still widespread and the importation of shark fins obtained in such a manner is surprisingly not illegal. Leaving a massive legal loophole that is eagerly exploited by those who profit immensely from the legal sale and trade of shark fins and its derivative products, often times obtained illegally through uncontrolled shark finning.

Other than shark fin being the main ingredient in shark fin soup served at upscale Chinese restaurants and formal banquet dinners to show “respect” to the guests, and to allow the hosts to demonstrate their personal wealth and affluence, there are no other legitimate uses for this product. Not medicinal, nor scientific, nor educational.


In June 2011, I proudly introduced a member motion with my colleague Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker to ban the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin and derivative products within the city limits of Toronto. This motion was presented to Toronto City Council along with a petition signed by 10,000 residents who supported the creation of this municipal ban.

Knowing that Toronto has one of the largest Chinese Canadian populations in Canada, by eliminating the consumer demand for shark fin soup, we believed that such a ban would in effect help eliminate the inhumane and irresponsible practice of “shark finning” which results in the slaughter of an estimated 100 million sharks per year.

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Help Make the Indigenous District Toronto's Smart Cities Challenge

Last Thursday, 100 people turned out for our presentation on the Smart Cities Challenge with a special focus on Innovation and the Indigenous District in Toronto. We were quickly overwhelmed by the response as many more people showed up then had originally RSVP’d. My sincerest apologies to those who were unable to come into the main room. Thankfully, our gracious host, MaRS Discovery District, quickly opened an overflow room and allowed people the opportunity to watch the presentation on Facebook Live.


As the City of Toronto explores its options for submissions to the federal Smart Cities Challenge, our team was encouraged to see so many people interested in the concept of an Indigenous District. We believe this to be a real opportunity for Toronto to take an important step towards reconciliation, innovation and broad social inclusion.   

As we learned last week, the time to submit ideas for the Smart Cities Challenge is fast approaching and entries must be received by this Friday, February 2, 2018.  If you would like to see the City and the community work together to further explore the concept for an Indigenous District, I encourage you to complete the online survey here to indicate your support.  The more submissions received supporting this initiative, the more likely it will be chosen as Toronto’s Smart Cities Challenge proposal.


We believe the Indigenous District is the ideal Smart Cities Challenge proposal. This initiative will accelerate the transformation of the Dundas Street corridor into a world centre for Indigenous innovation and leadership, act as a tool to engage and encourage other knowledge hubs throughout the region and country through the creation of physical and virtual corridor. The Indigenous District will enable businesses and entrepreneurs to work with the community to access Indigenous-led innovation, technology and talent through virtual and physical co-working locations. The creation of Canada’s first-ever Indigenous District serves as a scalable model for private, public, university, and civil society partnerships.

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