Permanent Residents Should Vote in Toronto’s Elections

Cities for everyone

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

Bathurst-Finch Network

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

Kelli Korducki

Amanda Peet

Jordyn Marcellus

Sonal Champsee

Lauren Simmons

Karen Wirsig

Marisol Fornoni

Lucas Costello

James Lokas

Dagny Jackman

Shanley Maguire

Israt Ahmed

Guled Arale

Mark Dunny

Alejandra Bravo

Bob Brent

Serene Tan

Farnaz Behrooz

Rahel Nega

Alicia Pang

Dennis Findlay

Justin Kozuch

Chris Hutchinson

Christopher Evan Jones

Marisa Leon-Carlyle

Ryan Spraggett

Peter Ciurczak

Netami Stuart

Jude MacDonald

Brandon Jacoby

Dale Duncan

Lindsay Anne Black

Rishi Lukka

Stephanie Fysh

Nick Olson-Harris

Tabatha Southey

Meaghan Davis

Nivia George

Kristin T.

Doug Graffeo

Sarah Campbell

Patrycja Trotter

Ali Ahmed

Sun Drews

Chad Townsend

Torgunn O. Townsend

Mary Falconet

Paisley Rae

Lisaa King

Piali Roy

Simon Sharkey-Gotlieb

Mark J. Gold

Bryson Gilbert

Mark Homer

Ken Butler

Greg Smith

Michael Warren

Maria Gruending

Emily-Kate Hunter

Astrid Idlewild, Publisher of Torontolo.gy

Jessica Wilson

Reid Levesque

Marco Campana

Michael O’Shaughnessy

Jeff Everett

Harald Bauder

Pat Baranek

Kim McIntyre

Rosemary Kelly

Mulugeta Abai

Ferdinand R. Alvarez

Selamawit Yohannes

Luca De Franco

Samgeeta

Tristan Laing

Lee Horrocks

Tamara Adizes

Kera Vijayasingham

Anita Khanna

Mike Kim

Ricardo Bravo

Leonardo Zuniga

Kailey Savage

Candice Young

Dianne Oliphant

Rajitharan Rajanthiran

Gabrielle Langlois

Chloe Doesburg

Ige Egal

Matt Elliott

Murray White

Jaime-Leigh Fairbrother

Kim Bethke

Silvia F.

Lanny Ferreira

Gabriela Bravo

Helen Armstrong

François Villeneuve

Julian Solis

Nasrin Jahandideh

Marcia Tamai

Jorge Kanesh

Alyssa Sewlal

Nicolas Kleiman

Randi Reynolds

Toni Francis

Lyn Adamson

Kyle Baptista

Victoria James

Arleigh Crawford

Joe Cressy

Julie Bowring

Rosalyn Johnson

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5 thoughts on “Permanent Residents Should Vote in Toronto’s Elections

  1. Alex

    The requirements for Canadian citizenship are basic:

    – You must be at least 18 years old to apply for Canadian citizenship or have a Canadian parent

    – You mast have permanent resident status in Canada, and that status must not be in doubt.

    – Adults must have resided in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) in the past four years before applying.

    – If between 18 – 54 you must show that you have adequate knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages

    – You must understand the rights, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, such as the right and responsibility to vote in elections. You must also demonstrate an understanding of Canada’s history, values, institutions and symbols.

    Surely that is not too much to ask in order to have a say on the future of our city? If an individual cannot wait 3 years and satisfy basic requirements to be an active member of Canadian society than I would question that individual’s commitment to their new home city. This is the beginning of a slippery slope that we should not and cannot go down.

    Reply
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