Dear Mayor Brown,
After more than six months of research, study and community consultation, we are pleased to present to you our final report, “London for All: A Roadmap to End Poverty”. We thank you for the opportunity to work with fellow citizens to help effect real and lasting change in our community.
Some say this challenge has always existed and some may even ask, “Why now? What makes anything different this time?” There is an undeniable urgency to addressing poverty in London now before it becomes even more entrenched. Despite the best efforts of many in our community, the barriers stubbornly persist. At 17%, London’s poverty rates eclipse provincial levels and, while it’s true that our economy has exhibited promising signs of recovery, that recovery has still not reached our most vulnerable citizens.
But today, more than ever before, we have a better understanding of the causes and impacts of poverty. The Provincial and Federal governments have begun to focus more and more on the issues surrounding poverty and, what’s more, they recognize the important role that municipalities play in the everyday lives of their constituents.
The overarching focus of the Panel has been to develop a deeper understanding of the communitywide impacts of poverty and opportunities for change. While poverty affects individuals, it is not merely an individual problem. We all pay a price, both in the real dollar costs of healthcare and social services and in the emotional and spiritual burden that the existence of poverty places upon us.
THESE ARE COMMUNITY RECOMMENDATIONS
The recommendations contained in this report are not any one individual’s recommendations nor do they come from any particular group of individuals. They are grounded in the best available research, the Social Determinants of Health, the good work already happening in London and across the country, and are the result of extensive public consultation.
As a Panel, we embarked on a process seeking to gain broad public input in order to build momentum towards solutions. Panel members attended nearly 100 different meetings and we heard from over 1,000 Londoners. We learned that thousands of London children go to school every day without having had a decent breakfast because their families have to choose between paying rent and buying healthy food. We learned of continued inequities that limit some Londoners’ ability to reach their full potential. We learned that the double-edged sword of the skills gap means there are chronically unemployed workers in London even as jobs remain unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the necessary skill sets.
This report contains 112 recommendations in total. Deciding which priorities to focus on is a difficult task. What is perhaps more difficult is deciding which ones to leave out. London City Council knows this challenge well.
IMPORTANT WORK IS ALREADY UNDERWAY
This Panel recognizes that there are an array of programs and services in London that address poverty. The intention of this report is not to replace them, but rather to look for ways to strengthen and improve upon them. Additionally, we are aware that a single report alone could never hope to solve a problem as complex as this one. However, we are confident that this report presents an important step on the path towards ending poverty in London.
This Panel would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the many passionate, hard-working Londoners, community organizations, nonprofits and faith-based groups who continue to dedicate so much of their time and talent towards addressing poverty in all of its complexity. We also recognize Council’s dedication of millions of dollars toward new and enhanced programming for poverty reduction demonstrates that addressing poverty is a high priority. Finally, we would like to recognize the staff from the City of London who provided us with outstanding support throughout our mandate.
LONDON BELONGS TO ALL OF US
Going forward, continued leadership – from you, from City Council and from those in London’s Business, Public and Nonprofit sectors – will be crucial in ensuring that this work is successful. In order to support the execution of these recommendations, we have proposed next steps. Perhaps the most important of these is that a commitment be made to prioritize the voices of people with lived experience with poverty. Exclusion and stigma play a big role in the damage that poverty inflicts upon people’s lives. People living in poverty have a great deal to offer and empowering the marginalized will be an important component in our community’s healing.
Like you, Mr. Mayor, we want to build a great city and a great city is one that includes everyone – rich and poor, young and old, newcomers and longtime Londoners. A great city is one in which all of us have a true sense of ownership and belonging, and where all citizens can come together towards a common goal. It is only by working together that we will more effectively address how we fill gaps, remove barriers and help end the cycle of poverty for future generations of Londoners.
Co-chairs of Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty:
Maureen Cassidy, Deputy Mayor, City of London
Dr. Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer, Middlesex-London Health Unit
On behalf of the Panel:
• Vanessa Ambtman-Smith, Aboriginal Health Lead, South West Local Health Integration Network
• Dr. Helene Berman, Professor and Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Health Sciences,
Western University; Co-Director, Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion
• Dharshi Lacey, Diversity Program Manager, Pillar Nonprofit Network
• Andrew Lockie, Chief Executive Officer, United Way London & Middlesex
• Dr. Abe Oudshoorn, Assistant Professor, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University;
Chair, London Homeless Coalition
• Glen Pearson, Co-Director, London Food Bank; Board Member, London Poverty Research Centre