December already! And Monday. Bad things are supposed to come in threes, so watch out, everyone. Seriously. In the news today: Rob Ford did some things but they weren't as bad as usual, groceries are nearly impossible to find in some parts of town, making rent is also near-impossible for minimum-wage workers, and an assumed victory for the arts may be delayed.
Is it the worst thing he’s done, or just the most recent? (It is almost certainly the latter.) Rob Ford attended the Buffalo Bills–Atlanta Falcons game in town on Sunday, and for some reason, he stole musician Matt Mays’ seat. Writers everywhere in Toronto made much of the fact that one of Mays’ best-known songs is “Cocaine Cowgirl.” And the mayor has admitted to smoking crack… cocaine. Like the song!
Ford is something of a bad-luck charm in the CFL, and his presence at the Bills-Falcons game boded just as badly for the Bills as it usually does for the Argos. The Bills lost 34-31 in overtime, which is all non-sports-fans need to know about that. For real. The rest is pointless, but if you are a sports fan, please to enjoy your sports.
Mobile grocery stores are bringing fresh, nutritious food to neighbourhoods severely underserved by conventional stores. In many areas of town where people’s incomes are lowest, fresh food at affordable prices is a pipe dream. To help combat this problem, FoodShare’s Mobile Good Food Project has begun driving to six different locations and setting up a temporary market. One Scarborough area the project serves is so badly in need that it takes 20 minutes to walk to the nearest grocery store. The group says its larger goal is ultimately to have the individual communities take over and provide themselves with fresh food.
The Grid looked at how far minimum-wage-level earnings go in 2013 Toronto. The results, unfortunately, are grim. Average rent for a bachelor apartment is $1,300 per month, which equals 126 hours of minimum-wage work. A month of (on average) four 40-hour workweeks will typically contain 160 working hours. So rent for a bachelor apartment takes up slightly more than 75 per cent of a minimum-wage worker’s monthly earnings, and things like groceries, transit, and health care are all still unaccounted for. No wonder there are groups calling for an increase in minimum wage from $10.25 to $14 per hour.
With last week’s release of budget documents came the news that a much-vaunted increase in local arts funding may be delayed. The increase, which was going to come from a hike in billboard taxes and has already been delayed twice, is intended to bring Toronto’s arts funding up to the standard Montreal set a decade ago. That standard is $25 per capita. Since setting that standard, Montreal has increased its per-capita funding to $55.