Listen to the full story:
The Toronto Youth Cabinet is calling on Toronto’s city council to implement a youth-friendly city budget.
Stephen Mensah, the executive director of TYC, and a TMU student, said the budget made investments for Torontonians but not specifically for young people.
“If you don’t take the urgent steps to support young people right now, no, we’re not going to have a vibrant, prosperous Toronto that everyone is seeking,” he added.
In partnership with the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board, TYC is proposing $3 million towards 15 more youth hubs in underprivileged areas, twice the funding for violence prevention grants, and funding towards summer youth employment programs. They also want a budget for student nutrition programs and after-school programming for youths from ages 11-18. These demands are especially needed for underprivileged areas like Scarborough and north Etobicoke.
“The joint statement sponsored by the Toronto Youth Cabinet was a great avenue, we thought, to join together as the two largest school boards in the area and say we need to care for our youth, not only for today, but this impacts tomorrow and their future and our future in this city,” said Nancy Crawford, the chair of TCDSB.
Mensah said job employment for youth is critical to help move towards a future of career and economic security.
According to a Statistics Canada report released last summer, the youth crime rate surged by 17.8 per cent from 2021 to 2022 in Canada.
“When you talk to a young person, they’re not going to carjack out of luxury or because it’s fun, they’re going to carjack out of necessity, because they’re facing poverty,” he said. “The best antidote to crime is a good job and a good education.”
Rachel Chernos Lin, chair of the TDSB, said food insecurity has gone up significantly throughout the pandemic.
“There’s so many families that are using food banks now that we want to make sure that that’s included in the municipal budget as well.”
She said schools can use the nutrition funding towards breakfast or lunch programs and offer pantries where students can take food to their homes. She’s also hoping the federal government can help implement a national food program to help ease the impacts of the food crisis.
Olivia Chow declined to comment on this story.
Mensah said young people have been actively sending letters and deputations to the Toronto City Council before and during the budget season, but the city council failed to acknowledge their voices.
“The future is happening right now,” said Mensah.
Chow’s budget will be unveiled Feb. 1, and debated by council over the coming weeks.
Talia is completing her final year in journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University. Talia loves interviewing small business to make their voices feel heard and empathizing with their stories. In her spare time she enjoys watching shows, listening to music, or playing video games. She aspires to be a better cook day by day and potentially work as a YouTuber.