Extra! Extra! 2014 City Budget good news for Torontonians

Photo of Nauman Khan

Nauman Khan,
United Way, Public Affairs

This week we’re welcoming Nauman Khan as our guest blogger. He is a member of United Way Toronto’s Communications and Public Affairs team.  Thanks to a career in broadcast journalism and politics, he has built a strong understanding of how governments influence community building through strategic investments.  He also thinks Toronto is the best city in the world to live, work and raise a family.

It’s budget season in the City of Toronto, and while it may not be the most headline-grabbing time of year, it is one of the most important—this is when key decisions are made about where the City will focus its funding and its efforts over the coming year.

And this year’s budget, approved on January 30, had some great news for Torontonians, making progress in several areas with a strong link to United Way’s priorities.

Of course, United Way Toronto is already working with the City in a number of ways—on our Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy, to close the gap between the inner suburbs and downtown Toronto; on Tower Neighbourhood renewal; on nutrition and food security; and on youth employment opportunities resulting from new transit investments.

This year’s budget was approved on January 30, and we saw progress in three more areas with a strong link to United Way’s priorities:

Creating more youth lounges
These spaces will provide a wide range of services and, more importantly, physical space, for youth to engage in everything from arts and recreation to networking and career building. City Council approved the creation of 10 such spaces across the city, starting with four this year. (The city will work with United Way and other partners to determine locations.)

Cost of Living Adustment (COLA) increase for community agencies
COLA is critical to ensuring that these agencies are able to meet inflationary pressures, so City Council went a step further and approved additional funding for agencies that had been recommended by staff to receive public funds—but which had not been approved to in a previous version of the budget.

Improving student nutrition
The Student Nutrition Program (SNP) helps deliver nutritious snacks across Toronto’s schools, especially in neighbourhoods where families may struggle to feed their children well. Not only did City Council approve an inflationary increase to cover the cost of food, but it also passed two other investments: to expand the program to more schools, and increase the City’s share in the total cost of SNP.

Sometimes we can take for granted that really important things are happening at City Hall, that have a direct positive impact on the lives of everyday citizens. While these aren’t the kinds of things that always grab the public and media attention, this year’s budget included a lot of great news—and it really should have made bigger headlines.