There is no relief in sight as families line up for hours at Toronto food banks

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Forget Toronto, the good stuff. That was Toronto, the terrible one!

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Moms and dads standing in a long line in sweltering heat to get food for their young children is Toronto’s dirty little secret on display in broad daylight. It is unacceptable and we will not hide it, no matter how politically damaging it is to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor Olivia Chow or Prime Minister Doug Ford. Facts are facts.

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If you see one, look nearby and you will also find a shanty town and drug use and injection sites. Toronto now has neighborhoods like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and no one can deny that. This food line in Toronto had people lining up all the way down the block. Not for Taylor Swift tickets, but for something to fill their bellies.

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It’s terrible.

Every day, hundreds of people line up on the sidewalk for up to two hours to buy two bags of groceries. That was the case last year, but with tens of thousands of refugees and immigrants pouring into Canada and settling in Toronto this year, those lines appear to be getting even longer.

This is not the only indication of the crisis in the city. Across College St., east of Bathurst St., lies a 1930s-style shantytown that we will call a tent city in 2023. But if we’re honest, these are now paved and furnished street dwellings that can withstand the elements and are built to last. Nobody pays $3,000 a month to live there, but judging by the tempers that flared Thursday, it’s not a place many want to live.

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With accommodations full, some have no other choice. These Hunger Games are not a game.

Stand on the sidewalk for five minutes and hear the babies crying and the children screaming, and you can’t help but wonder why city park rangers are handing out citations instead of water, umbrellas, or even tents to shield people from the sun protect? Why isn’t there ice cream for the kids like the City of Toronto did for vaccination sites?

Shahnaz sits in front of the Fort York Food Bank on College St., near Kensington Market, on Thursday, September 7, 2023, in Toronto.
Shahnaz sits in front of the Fort York Food Bank on College St., near Kensington Market, on Thursday, September 7, 2023, in Toronto. Photo by Ernest Doroszuk /Toronto Sun

A woman named Shahnaz said she lives in a shelter and although she only has a small area to cook essentials, she struggles to buy food with a low monthly income. The mother of two came to Canada from Iraq five months ago and was looking forward to the Canadian dream.

She didn’t find it. But don’t complain.

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“The food is good,” she said of the ration given to her by the Fort York Food Bank. “Milk, bread and eggs.”

It’s enough to keep a family from starving. But just enough.

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Meanwhile, Trudeau flew on a government jet on a so-called trade mission to the Far East, where he has already provided more than $123 million in grants and loans to a foreign country – none of which will help Shahnaz, her family and thousands of others others like them in Canada, desperate for food or living outside.

No sales tax in Toronto will fix this. Carbon taxes introduced by a current prime minister are one of the reasons food and living costs are spiraling out of control. This isn’t Chow’s or Ford’s fault. The humanitarian crisis is being handed over to them while Trudeau seemingly goes on a five-star working vacation with red carpets and good food after an entire summer of vacation.

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This is not a holiday for Shahnaz.

Trudeau should skip the Team Canada basketball game in Manila and return here to deal with it, since his Liberal government helped create this mess and is responsible for fixing the problem. The federal government’s website states that up to 505,000 new residents will arrive from around the world in 2023, up to 542,000 in 2024 and 550,000 in 2025. With many of these immigrants and refugees coming to the GTA, one has to ask: How bad will these food bank lines get?

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If Trudeau is serious about this in a country where the average citizen is struggling to pay their bills, he needs to open all federal buildings in Toronto to accommodate this influx, and not use all the money the government has for other countries , but use it for Canada. If Canada has to sell the climate-damaging jet he uses for his travels, then so be it. The same goes for Harrington Lake Cottage. Bring it to market, or at least use it to accommodate some of the 1.5 million newcomers arriving in Canada by 2025.

Pierre Poilievre and the federal Conservatives also need to be asked what their plan is. Will they introduce measures to get people out of food bank queues?

Someone better, because it is unbearable to see suffering mothers and babies standing on the sidewalk waiting for food.

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