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“Together, we will address the neglect and isolation faced by residents in too many of our neighbourhoods. We will continue to tackle our unacceptable youth jobless rate. And we will build a strong, inclusive city of opportunity from Etobicoke to Scarborough and from North York to the waterfront.”

From TO Prosperity: Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy passed unanimously by City Council Nov. 2015

To: The Mayor and City Council of Toronto

We the undersigned, as leaders and members of the many faith traditions and communities that live and work in the City of Toronto, call upon City Council to fund the promises made in the 2015 Poverty Reduction Strategy in the 2017 City of Toronto budget.

Our faith communities see and minister to the needs of people living with poverty in our city on a daily basis. From food banks to meal programs, housing, drop-in centres, before and after school programs, refugee and immigrant settlement, counselling and other forms of assistance, the real face of poverty comes to our doors each and every day.  It is from that experience that we make the urgent plea contained in this letter.

We note that, even as each faith tradition is different and unique, there are many religious principles and ethical values that we share in common.  Specifically here, each of our traditions has at its heart care for those affected most directly by poverty.  All of our traditions are clear and unambiguous on the centrality of building societies where poverty is solidly addressed.

As people of faith, our traditions move us to advocate to City Council to work with boldness and determination towards a poverty-free Toronto.  We support the vision of the City's Poverty Reduction Strategy not as some unreachable utopian ideal never to be realized, but as a fulfillment of our religious and ethical requirements, as a necessity for social harmony and as an achievable goal of a city where all can live in dignity. 

Faith communities participated in developing the strategy and support its vision. Now it is time for solid action. If additional resources through new revenue tools or taxes are required, then we implore Council to make the public case and take the right course of action. These new revenue tools must be applied with fairness and equity, so that each of us contributes our fair share, and ensuring we do not unjustly burden those of us who struggle to make ends meet. Faith communities know the difficult terrain of raising additional funds as we regularly implore our congregants to respond to social causes. But act we must, as good intentions without strong, solid, measurable city resources are simply words on a page. Other orders of government certainly need to do their part; but the city cannot shrink from our civic responsibility to our people.

We ask the Council and the Mayor to fulfill its commitment to eliminating the growing gaps in our city. We ourselves commit to continue the partnership with you in this endeavour. It is time to move beyond simply caring about poverty, and into a time of properly funded, innovative and creative solutions to the scourge of poverty in our city.  Let us build that city on a hill of which we can all be proud.

Signed so far: 129 endorsements

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