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FST supports Bill 173

As an agency committed to ending gender-based violence, Family Service Toronto (FST) is pleased that Bill 173 –  Intimate Partner Violence Epidemic Act – passed 2nd reading in the provincial legislature on April 10, 2024.

Family Service Toronto released a statement in July of 2023 urging the government to take this important action. Declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic helps to take it out of the shadows, debunking the idea that it is a private matter, and elevates it to a public health priority.

Bill 173, introduced as a Private Members’ Bill and backed by the Government on 2nd reading, officially recognizes the scale, scope, and devastating impact of intimate partner violence as a public health crisis and epidemic in the Province of Ontario.  

Read FST’s full statement and join us in raising awareness about the importance of addressing IPV as a public health crisis.

Our volunteers make a difference!

April 14-20 is National Volunteer Week, a time to recognize and celebrate both FST’s volunteers and the millions of Canadians who contribute to building stronger and more inclusive communities every day.

This year’s theme, “Every Moment Matters” highlights the significant impact of every volunteer and their contributions.

Over the last year FST volunteers sat on an Accessibility Advisory Group, conducted occupational therapy-related training sessions, offered peer support, did community outreach, made weekly calls to isolated clients, provided administrative assistance, and contributed to governance. These activities took place both virtually and in-person, driven by our volunteers’ strong desire to make a difference. 

Our volunteers have shared that in addition to the satisfaction they receive from supporting our mission, they’ve gained valuable insights into the challenges faced by our clients and communities. Many have experienced increased confidence in their skills, leading to employment or advancement in their careers.

A huge thank you to our awesome volunteers! The moments you share with our clients, communities and staff make a profound difference!

Be sure to follow our National Volunteer Week posts on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Free walk-in counselling returns


Starting April 11, Family Service Toronto is re-opening the in-person Single Session Walk-in Counselling service at its 355 Church St. location.

Walk-in single sessions will be offered Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. to adult individuals, couples and families on a first-come first-served basis. The walk-in single-session counselling service does not see children.

We will continue to offer virtual single session counselling, by phone or video, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

All Single Session Walk-in Counselling sessions, whether virtual or in-person, are provided free of charge.

For more information go to Single Session Walk-In Counselling – Family Service Toronto

Poverty rates rise post pandemic

Canada saw a sharp upswing in national child poverty rates one year after historic poverty reduction was achieved in 2020,  according to the 2023 national poverty update from Campaign 2000, a non-partisan coalition of 120 groups and individuals co-ordinated by Family Service Toronto.

The report, titled Unprecedented Progress on Poverty Reduction Being Undone, states more than one million children lived in poverty as pandemic benefits wound down and the cost of living rose in 2021.

“Accelerated efforts are required for Canada to meet its human rights obligations to end poverty,” states the report which includes 30 recommendations addressing inequality, income security, housing, child care, decent work and healthcare.

Using the latest available tax filer data from 2021, the report notes the child poverty rate rose to 15.6%, up from 13.5% in 2020 (using the Census Family Low Income Measure, After Tax). That represents 163,550 more children living with the short- and long-term physical, mental, emotional, economic and social harms of poverty.

Rates of child poverty increased in every province and territory from 2020 to 2021, according to the report. Disproportionately higher rates were seen for people marginalized by colonization, racism and systemic discrimination, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and racialized and migrant children.

FST celebrates Black History Month

Family Service Toronto is proud to join this month’s celebrations marking the rich past and present contributions and accomplishments of Black people in Canada and stands in solidarity with Black communities across the country and around the world.

We must continue our efforts to denounce all forms of anti-Black racism, colonialism and white supremacy and be a catalyst for change and action against systemic discrimination. We know these systems have a long history and deep roots in Canada where Black and Indigenous Peoples have long been denied their human rights.

The 2024 theme for Black History Month is: “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build.”

This year’s theme aligns with the 10th year of the International Decade for People of African Descent and recognizes that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.

FST honours Ed Broadbent

Family Service Toronto joins its Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty colleagues in paying tribute to former federal New Democrat leader Ed Broadbent, who died Jan. 11 at the age of 87.

“With his passing, we not only celebrate his life achievements but remind ourselves of the commitment made by the federal government to eradicate family and child poverty so long ago,” said Chris Brillinger, FST’s Executive Director.

“To honour his life and work, we must remain steadfast in our resolve to eradicate child and family poverty in our lifetime. Mr. Broadbent always knew the vision was possible, it is our responsibility to keep that vision front and centre for policymakers until the job is done.”

The birth of Campaign 2000 in 1991 was sparked by Ed Broadbent’s commitment to eliminating child and family poverty.  Activists Marvyn Novick and Rosemarie Popham, co-founders of Campaign 2000, took hold of the resolution introduced by Ed and, building on the work of the Child Poverty Action Group and others, set out to make child poverty a public policy issue in Canada.

Campaign 2000’s full tribute is available on their website at Campaign 2000 Celebrates the Life of Ed Broadbent – Campaign 2000.

Join a Winter virtual group

A new month and new year brings the opportunity to join one of Family Service Toronto’s several virtual workshops or groups.

Among the virtual groups open for registration are Drop in Yoga (free); Emotional Skills (for 2SLGBTQ+ clients) and Art in Transition (free virtual group for 2STNB+ youth).

Counselling and group sessions by phone have also resumed.

See our Virtual Workshops and Groups page for current groups and upcoming sessions or call 416-595-9618 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to book a virtual counselling session.

Read our 2022-23 Annual Report

Copies of our 2022-23 Annual Report and Audited Financial Statements are available for download or online reading.

The annual report lists our programs and client services and provides statistics on our work and community outreach. It also describes our work through the year and addresses organizational highlights and changes.

Funders and donors are also highlighted in addition to revenues and expenses for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. 

Join a Fall in-person group

Are you a woman-identified survivor of trauma?

Our Violence Against Women Program is offering a new series: Caring for Self: Uncovering Resources through Expressive Arts – an eight-week group tailored for women-identified survivors of trauma. This in-person program starts Oct. 11 and focuses on self-care through art.

Expressive arts use the arts to explore our internal experience and navigate themes and obstacles we encounter in life. This playful approach through sensory exploration focuses on the process, instead of perfection. Those interested do not require previous artistic experience.

Learn more about this group, and many other groups offered by Family Service Toronto  on our Workshops, Groups and Events page.

FST: IPV is an epidemic

As an organization dedicated to supporting survivors of violence against women (VAW), Family Service Toronto welcomes Toronto City Council’s July 20 decision to declare gender-based and intimate partner violence an epidemic.

The declaration was part of a motion from Mayor Olivia Chow that passed with no opposition and calls on the provincial and federal governments to make the same move.

FST remains deeply concerned and disappointed by the Ontario government’s recent decision to reject a Coroner’s Inquest jury recommendation to declare intimate partner violence (IPV) as an epidemic across the province.

This decision, published June 28, 2023, does a disservice to the countless victims and their families who have suffered the devastating consequences of IPV.

Family Service Toronto supported Mayor Chow’s recommendation at City Council to Declare Gender-Based Violence and Intimate Partner Violence an Epidemic in the City of Toronto. In doing so, the City joined 30 other Ontario municipalities calling for the same declaration.

Read FST’s full statement and join us in raising awareness about the importance of addressing IPV as a public health crisis.

FST welcomes new board President

Olympia Baldrich has been appointed President of Family Service Toronto’s Board of Directors. The appointment was confirmed by board members on June 28, 2023 following FST’s Annual General Meeting.

She takes over the position from Andrew Thomson who has completed his board term.

Olympia joined FST’s board in June 2021 and is an executive with experience in multiple industries in Europe and North America. She has over 20 years of progressive experience in corporate leadership and is currently Vice President, Real Estate Secured Lending at TD.

At the annual meeting, the membership received the audited financial statements for the year ending March 31, 2023 and elected Sarah Blackstock and Bonita Rubin to the Board for a first term of three years.

FST Pride 2023 Statement

For many within the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, the word Pride is often first encountered as a sin. The fight for Queer liberation led by Trans, gender non-conforming individuals, sex workers, drag queens/kings, queer youth, lesbians, gay men, Black, and Indigenous communities has allowed us to recognize and celebrate that Pride is a virtue.

During Pride we come together to honour this legacy and the continued fight for liberation and self-determination for all who continue to face racism, sexism, classism, ableism, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, ageism, in addition to all other forms of oppression and subsequent violence rooted in colonialism, White supremacy, neoliberalism and capitalism.

We acknowledge that Black and Indigenous people have been instrumental in the effort towards Queer liberation, and we must continue to uplift their voices.  To truly deconstruct white supremacist structures and systems of oppression, we must fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and swiftly implement the Calls to Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Calls to Action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

As an agency, we are committed to upholding our values of celebrating diversity, pursuing equity and practising inclusion. We continue to ground our understanding of poverty, marginalization, discrimination and oppression in the lived experience of people and communities.

Join us June 8 from 4 to 7 p.m. at 355 Church Street for a drop-in, collaborative art making event about the theme of queer existence and resistance. Come together with members of the community and allies to celebrate the unique and diverse identities of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. No registration required. Download flyer

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