Children and Youth
Throughout her career as a politician and an activist, Olivia Chow has shown extraordinary leadership as the champion of a group of people who don’t have a vote, who don’t pay taxes and who are rarely heard by those in power: children and youth.
Olivia immigrated to Toronto with her family when she was thirteen, saw her parents struggle to fit in and make ends meet, and saw many families living in despair.
Olivia knew things could be different and began a life long quest to conquer child poverty.
As a school trustee, Olivia fought for de-streaming of schools, to provide equal access of education to all, regardless of background, neighbourhood or income level.
As a City Councillor and Children and Youth Advocate for the City of Toronto, Olivia led the drive to greatly expand and enhance food programs for children. She was instrumental in Toronto First Duty, making the school the hub of activity for children, integrating childcare and after school programs with public education. And she established the Toronto Youth Cabinet to engage and young people in policies that affect their lives – and empower them.
Olivia took her quest to the national stage, and as a Member of Parliament, she led a campaign for a national childcare act. This crucial initiative based on her profound understanding that accessible, affordable and high quality child care is critical in the healthy development of children.
Olivia continued the her life-long quest to end child poverty when she ran for Mayor of Toronto in 2014, again, having the courage to put children and families at the heart of the city. Because even though progress had been made, there are still children who go to bed hungry at night.
Olivia Chow has long been one of the strongest voices for better public transit in Toronto and across the country. With gridlock ensnarling the GTA and costing us more than $6 billion in lost productivity annually, Olivia knows that action is needed by all levels of government.
As the Official Opposition Federal Transport Critic, Olivia tabled a bill in Parliament to establish a National Transit Strategy aimed at achieving fast and affordable public transit through long-term, predictable investment.
After decades of under-investment, the establishment of such a national framework for federal transit dollars would finally bring Canada up to par with its G8 peers.
Olivia’s bill received widespread support from mayors, transit operators, unions and advocacy groups from across the country with dozens of high-level endorsements and thousands of petition signatures signed.
Replacing current ad-hoc and unpredictable federal funding for transit projects, the bill would have established a permanent mechanism to determine transit needs across the country, mandating the federal government to work together with provinces, municipalities and First Nations communities.
Toronto and the GTA would benefit tremendously from such a non-partisan and permanent approach to federal transit funding. Instead of a trickle of partisan-guided federal investments, a fair and objective approach is direly needed.
Olivia took her passion for better public transit to the next level when she ran municipally in 2014.
With too many people waiting for jam-packed buses in the cold, improving bus services was one of her central campaign planks. Through more frequent bus service, Olivia pushed for reduced wait times and overcrowding and ultimately a more humane commute in large parts of our city.
Likewise, Olivia has been championing the building of the long-needed subway relief line to ease overcrowding on our subway system and expand the system in a way that’s long been demanded by experts.
Guided by expert advice that rapid transit is urgently needed in underserved parts of the city, Olivia continues to advocate for cost-effective and fast light rail lines. Building light rail in Toronto will finally bring rapid transit to areas like Rexdale and northern Scarborough.
With the growing inequality in our city, building a fair and wide-spanning transit network is more important than ever.