The Iranian Canadian Congress have identified three main issues for the Iranian Canadian community in Toronto and we have prepared three questions below in that regard. We have asked 6 candidates who are ahead in the polls to answer to these questions and we are relaying their answers to the community to help them decide better in the coming election:
- What specific plans do you have to address the housing crisis in Toronto, particularly in terms of affordable housing options for low-income individuals and families?
Mark Saunders: '' Every family in Toronto deserves to have a safe and affordable home. City Council's plan to create any kind of housing has been a failure, especially for low-income families. The waiting list for rent-geared-to-income housing is in the tens of thousands, however this segment of the housing market has not been a priority for either City Council or my opponents.
To create more deeply affordable / RGI and supportive housing, I will embrace and expand the highly successful Toronto Community Housing model where the City provides land free-of-charge to builders of condo and market rental projects (also needed as part of the overall housing mix) in return for including affordable and supportive units, and replacing crumbling rent-geared-to-income units and adding new ones. As part of this model, the city will also receive a share of the condo sales, which can in turn be used to provide additional services that these families need. ''
2. Toronto's public transit system has faced numerous challenges, including overcrowding and delays. What steps will you take to improve and expand public transit infrastructure in the city to ensure efficient, reliable, and accessible transportation for all residents?
Mark Saunders: '' I am committed to improving the expanding transit infrastructure in Toronto, starting with accelerating an extension of the TTC’s Line 4.
North York and Scarborough residents have been frustrated for decades by the politicians at City Hall who have constantly started, stopped, and restarted major transit projects, contributing to huge delays and ballooning costs. Even Olivia Chow called the Scarborough subway extension a “waste” in 2014 and promised to cancel it, which would have left residents waiting another decade or more for the Scarborough RT replacement. The next year, she flipped and said she was supporting the subway - because her own NDP party was supporting it in the middle of a federal election.
To expand the access and convenience of transit options, I will:
Work with provincial and federal levels of government to accelerate the time to completion for the Scarborough subway extension of Line 4 to Sheppard and McCowan, and in doing so, finally give Scarborough and North York residents the transit options they deserve;
Work with key transit and infrastructure partners to speed up recently announced intentions to study an extension of Line 4 to the west from Sheppard-Yonge Station to Sheppard West Station. North York residents can’t wait another decade for a study; they need a more sensible and convenient option of moving across the city right now; and
Work with the provincial government to undertake a planning assessment for extending the Ontario Line northbound to Sheppard Avenue East, which will give North York residents another north-south option and further relieve congestion on Line 1.
I have also pledged to offer free TTC to seniors 65+ every Monday from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. to make it more affordable for them to get to grocery stores and medical appointments and to help reduce social isolation. I will also ask the province to come to the table to provide funding to further expand this initiative.
To see my complete TTC transit safety plan, please see Mark Saunders Launches Comprehensive TTC Safety Plan to Protect Commuters and Workers | Mark Saunders for Toronto. ''
3. The dismissal of a police constable from the Toronto Police Department has brought attention the issues of workplace harassment and the treatment of women in law enforcement. What steps will you take to ensure a safe and inclusive work environment within the Toronto Police Department, to the issue of harassment, and to gender equality and diversity in law enforcement?
Mark Saunders: '' As Chief, I prioritized a safe and inclusive workplace for all members of the Toronto Police Service and introduced training and measures to ensure TPS employees were treated with dignity and respect regardless of their gender. This work should and will continue when I am Mayor. ''