One of the arguments for capitalism is that the more competition there is, the lower the prices will be because competitors will work to find efficiencies, reduce costs, and cut profit margins to make their goods and services cheaper than the competition. They do this to get more customers to buy their things, which will drive revenue and overall profit despite smaller margins.
Where is this competition? Nowhere to be found. Big retailers and grocers seem to be colluding to keep profit margins high. There is no real competition. Wali will introduce measures to end that, and will force big retailers to compete with each other for our hard earned dollars.
- Facilitate development of an open-source app to compare prices of goods and services (of equivalent qualities) across big retailers and grocers across Toronto.
- This will be largely maintained by the City of Toronto.
- Will allow for community contributions – city staff will serve to confirm and correct community-contributed data.
- Will be free to use and available as a phone app, a web app on the City of Toronto website, or as a TTY service.
- Grocers will be allowed to lower prices to engage in real-time competition, but may not increase prices for a certain period of time after reduction (to disallow bait-and-switch).
- Protections to be instituted to protect small businesses from direct competition with big retailers.
- Require cost and profit transparencies for large retailers and businesses, and reduce protection of “trade secret” rules for large corporations – not small businesses.
ESTABLISH NOT-FOR-PROFIT AND LOW-PROFIT SERVICES
Essential services should not be a profit-taking opportunity. Everyday people are squeezed for every last penny by corporations holding the keys to critical services and legally-required goods. For example, internet services and insurance.
Canadians deserve better – in terms of service and cost. Cost-saving greed by “evergreen” corporations block innovation and investment in better technology and methods. That’s why we are fighting for Toronto to take the lead for the rest of Ontario and Canada by taking this matter into its own hands.
- Facilitate development of municipally-owned cellular and internet service.
- Primary focus will be ensuring access to internet and cellular service to the most marginalized and under-served.
- Will be low-cost and low- or not-for-profit.
- Facilitate development of municipal insurance services.
- For vehicles, businesses, and home/tenant insurances.
- Competitive insurance rates and coverage.
- Fair determination of premiums that do not discriminate by any legally-protected statuses or postal codes.
- Full refund of any profits to policyholders at the end of the year.
- Mandate that employees have right-of-first-refusal on decisions concerning closing or selling business operations.
- Facilitate formation of worker-owned co-ops by this method.
- City will provide low- or zero-interest loans to employees to make this takeover possible.
- Co-ops must be democratic and adhere to best practices.
- Encourage development and starting of low-profit and not-for-profit businesses
- Provide consultative literature to the public.
- Provide one-on-one consultations to interested members of the public.
- Offer start-up seed capital in the form of grants, forgivable loans, low- or zero-interest loans.
- Require transparency and consultation with City to ensure money and resources are not lost to fraud and to ensure proper development/growth/operations.
GUARANTEE FOOD SECURITY
No one should go hungry anywhere in the world, or have to decide between a meal and a different essential purchase (like medicine, or rent). We owe it to each other simply on the basis of humanity. It is not charity, it is a right. There is enough food to feed everyone around the world multiple times over. That’s true at a Canadian scale, and true at a Toronto-wide scale as well.
While we need to think globally, let’s take the opportunity to start by taking care of our community in these elections. Food banks are not a solution, they are a symptom of policy failure – a culmination of all the steps taken to get us to the point which we find ourselves in today. We cannot keep doing more of the same and expect the situation to change or improve. In fact, it will only get worse. We need a full system change. These measures will help reduce the harms immediately, and help accomplishing such a system change:
- Using above-mentioned measures to increase competition amongst the big retailers, especially for basic foods.
- Additionally, employ public education measures and regulation to control prices, if required.
- Empower communities to grow and prepare their own food via establishing more community gardens and kitchens.
- Ensure proper education, training, and maintenance to ensure sustainability and to prevent introduction of invasive species.
- Ensure dignified and collaborative atmosphere.
- Allow for creative freedom to combat stigmas by making it a fun and festive experience.
- Allow for own food preparation in community kitchens.
- Establish regulations and practices governing food waste, including:
- a spoiled food tax/penalty,
- the seizure and distribution of unspoiled food which would otherwise have been discarded for any reason,
- building a pipeline from private grocery stores to community kitchens.
- Explore the possibility of expropriating private, corporate-owned grocery stores to be run in the public interest within a not-for-profit framework.
- Transition the city to a food system based primarily in local and sustainable agricultural practices.
- Proactively reach out to restaurants and small grocers to offer them competitive rates on local and sustainable ingredients, thus lending access to the City’s economies-of-scale to small businesses and restaurants.
TOP-UP ODSP AND OW
The state of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) is a disgrace. Despite scores of reputable organizations, and even more experts, urging the Province to at least double ODSP and OW rates, the Province has refused to act. In the June 2022 provincial elections, Doug Ford and the PCs were shamed into taking a position on increasing social assistance rates due to pressure from other political parties – all of whom acknowledged the need, and eventually committed to, doubling (or nearly doubling) ODSP/OW rates. So what did the Ford PCs offer? To increase just ODSP by a paltry 5%.
That is an insult. A disgusting affront. A spit in the face of ODSP and OW clients across this province. They are living in legislated poverty.
Single OW clients receive a MAXIMUM of $733 per month – which consists of $390 as a housing allowance, and $343 as a basic needs allowance.
Single ODSP clients (after the 5% increase) receive a MAXIMUM of $1228 per month – which consists of $522 as a housing allowance, and $706 as a basic needs allowance.
With average rents in Toronto hitting $2100 per month for a 1-bedroom apartment (or $1710 for a small studio apartment), how is anyone expected to make rent payments using a $343 or $522 housing allowance? Just in the past YEAR from 2021 to 2022, average rents increased by $300 – that’s almost equal to the entire shelter allowance for OW.
Even if recipients were to take all the money from their basic needs allowance to pay for rent, they would still be short ~$1000 and not have any money left for BASIC NEEDS. That is APPALLING.
- The City must top-up ODSP and OW for Toronto-based clients to ensure they are not driven out of their homes and the city.
- The City must expeditiously formulate a plan for instant relief to ODSP and OW clients, especially those who have accrued large debts to pay for rent and basic needs, those facing possible evictions, and those who have been rendered underhoused – and must support them until the Province acts.
- The City should apply as much pressure as possible on the Province to immediately double and, in some cases, even triple ODSP and OW allowance rates. After increasing rates, the new rates should be indexed to inflation.