Finance minister joins Wong-Tam’s town hall on Church Street

Federal finance minister Bill Morneau appeared at a town hall meeting at The 519 on Church Street on Jan. 18.

About 150 residents attended the meeting organized by Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam for the second year in a row to discuss gender-responsive budgeting.

The meeting was billed as an exercise to remind policy-makers how the most vulnerable have been left out of government budgets. Gender-responsive budgeting addresses the ways people access and experience government services, such as transit, housing, spending on roads and infrastructure, taxes and user fees.

In the part of the meeting called a “fireside chat” with Morneau and Wong-Tam, the federal government came under fire from a woman in the audience, identifying herself as a mother of two, for its financial support not reaching those like her who need it most in Toronto.

Morneau acknowledged the problem.

“We know as we try to create affordable housing spots, we don’t solve the problem for everyone,” Morneau said. He said the fast pace of growth in Toronto’s population made it difficult for the government to keep up.

The chat with Morneau was followed by a wider panel discussion of gender-responsive budgeting with policy experts, equity groups and residents.