At its June meeting, Toronto City Council will consider asking the province to allow Toronto’s permanent residents the right to vote for their school board trustee, city councillor, and mayor.
Across Toronto, a quarter-million people live, work, play and send their children to school; yet they have no vote in how the city is run because they are not Canadian citizens.
Tell Toronto City Council you support extending the municipal vote to Toronto’s permanent residents. Add your name, or your organization’s name, to this letter by signing the form below the open letter.
To Toronto City Council:
We are writing to urge you to join us in supporting a call to support allowing municipal voting for all permanent residents who live in the City of Toronto.
At any given time there are at least 250,000 voting age permanent residents of the city, living, working and paying taxes here, but unable to vote in municipal elections. At the same time, non-resident owning or renting property in the city are permitted to vote. Furthermore, citizenship is taking longer to acquire with recent federal changes, resulting in delays of up to 10 years.
The municipal franchise in Ontario needs to evolve to reflect our modern realities. The franchise was developed in the 1800’s and needs to change to reflect the 21st century reality of our diverse urban city.
Allowing permanent residents to vote will contribute to the settlement process in a city that relies on immigration for its economic and social development, integrating newcomers into a more democratic civic community.
From the City of Toronto staff report:
“As part of City Council’s recent consideration of the Toronto Newcomer Strategy, the Community Development and Recreation Committee heard from a number of academics, community-based service providers and community funders on a range of immigration and settlement issues, including the eligibility of permanent residents to participate in municipal elections.
“Toronto remains among the most diverse cities in the world, with more than half of all city residents born outside of Canada. While historically the great majority of Canadian immigrants achieve full citizenship, a number of residents are finding it increasingly difficult to attain Canadian citizenship due to changes in federal legislation, policies and procedures. In some cases, permanent residents may choose not to attain citizenship due to fear of loss of status in their home country. Toronto’s permanent residents are active members of the city and their communities.
As non-citizens, immigrants living in Toronto with permanent resident status are not eligible to participate in the elections process. This restriction has been repeatedly raised by researchers and community advocates as a disincentive to permanent residents’ greater participation in Toronto’s municipal civil society and an unnecessary marginalization of particular voices in municipal elections. These residents contribute to the financial viability of Toronto as property taxpayers and consumers of City programs with user fees, without representation.”
We, the undersigned, urge city council to vote in favour of extending the municipal vote to Toronto’s permanent residents.
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office
Social Planning Toronto
Scarborough Civic Action Network
Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture
St Stephen’s Community House
Community Recreation For All
North York Community House
Taylor Gunn, Chief Elections Officer at Student Vote
Matt Blackett, Publisher of Spacing Magazine
Desmond Cole, former project coordinator of the I Vote Toronto campaign
Christopher Evan Jones
Lindsay Anne Black
Torgunn O. Townsend
Mark J. Gold
Astrid Idlewild, Publisher of Torontolo.gy
Ferdinand R. Alvarez
Luca De Franco