This week I attended the City's Poverty Reduction Speaker Series as I have been working in various capacities over the years on this issue, its very close to my heart. There was a full house to listen to a full panel of women specializing in this issues to discuss employment strategies happening through the City. Tables broke out into work groups to discuss our ideas of Quality Jobs and Liveable Incomes. We were asked for BIG BOLD IDEAS, so here is what comes top of mind to me. The ideas listed here are my own, and certainly not exhaustive, but they will be part of my platform as we get closer to the Municipal writ being dropped in May.
Have an HR review of City of Toronto staff, at all levels, to determine how many staff are actually residents of the City of Toronto. Councillor Joe Mihevc felt this was something the City likely hasn't done, but perhaps should do so the onus isn't just being put onto the business sector to support the development of localized economies.
Property owners of retail / business spaces who receive Vacant Commercial & Industrial Unit Tax Rebate Program, provide that space for a local startup, youth pop-up shop or small newcomer business owner free for an agreed upon time, to foster business development and utilize spaces that in particular areas, reduce community vitality.
Provide tea times with Recreation Centres and TESS offices for those who are frequently hired on contracts (such as designers, artists, frontline social service / youth workers) who are often isolated and don't fit within the "typical" unemployed group, to get out from behind their computers while frantically looking for new opportunities (ie. Gig economy) and be supported by peers who may have leads that can be shared .
Expand locations to offer training opportunities that a local agency has been running on a regular basis into areas of the city such as North York and Scarborough, that have little to no training programs. Use best practice programs and replicate.
Provide those most distanced from employment with skills that can be used to find a job/career or to help around the community such as bicycle repair, painting, wood working, gardening, water sampling, cleaning etc.
Provide workshops to local small business on, where, when and how the City tenders contracts and how they can bid on them. Small business are an important aspect to our economy and deserve the opportunity to scale up their business models.
What do you think of my ideas? I'd love to hear your feedback!