Mayor’s Executive Committee approves plan to use disaggregated data to achieve equity goals

May 14, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

Last May, as city councillors and the mayor planned the 2018 budget process, they endorsed an Intersectional Gender-Based Framework to Assess Budgetary Impacts. (At the time, the word “intersectional” was very popular.) Back then, city staff admitted that the definition of an “intersectional gender-based framework” was still a work in progress.

But the report that was received at the Mayor John Tory’s Executive Committee today provided an answer, stating that gender and equity analysis means focusing on the needs of women and girls and other equity-seeking groups.  The committee received the report unanimously.

In addition to that report, the Executive Committee approved a framework for a disaggregated data strategy – that is, smaller units of data within a larger data set – that aims to inform equitable program planning and service delivery in order to help ensure equitable treatment of communities that face barriers and discrimination.

Councillor Paul Ainslie made two amendments to the item to address the challenge of providing data without breaching privacy. These included making sure the Chief Information Officer, the chief transformation officer are included and will report to council in 2019, and that the collection, analysis and reporting of data is in accordance with the city’s Open Data Master Plan.

Ainslie says he has been pushing for this type of change, and that the effects could have a real impact on the city’s services and programs.

“If you look at homeless shelters, for example, I’ve been after [staff] since January. You can look at people that have used data sets around homelessness to figure out where it’s happening most prevalent, and how to deal with it, and the resources that you can put into it and so I think that’s why these data sets need to be released as soon as possible,” Ainslie told Signal Toronto after the meeting.

Omo Akintan, acting director of the city’s Equity Diversity and Human Rights Division, gave an example of how it may be used.

“If a division was looking to reduce a program’s hours of operation, an equity impact analysis could involve doing an assessment of the service users during the course of each day and determining if there are equity-seeking groups or vulnerable populations that rely on the program during certain hours.  

“By identifying those communities, the division can ensure that any consultation process is accessible to members of those communities. The information learned from the analysis and the consultation can then be considered in the decision-making process. To the extent that those communities’ access may be impacted, the equity impact analysis would direct staff to think through alternatives that will minimize the impact on the equity-seeking groups or vulnerable populations.”

The entire committee approved the framework.

However, back in July 2016 when Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam moved a motion that would have a similar outcome to the intention of the disaggregated data motion passed today, it was voted down.

Part of that motion was to “incorporate a gender equity perspective into the design, development, adoption and execution of all budgetary processes, in order to promote equitable, effective and appropriate resource allocation and establish adequate budgetary allocations to support gender equity and development programmes which enhance women’s empowerment and develop the necessary analytical and methodological tools and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation.”

At the time, most of the mayor’s Executive Committee voted against it including Jon Burnside, John Campbell, Christin Carmichael Greb, Raymond Cho, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Justin J. Di Ciano, Mark Grimes, Stephen Holyday, Jim Karygiannis, Norman Kelly, Giorgio Mammoliti, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frances Nunziata (chair), Cesar Palacio, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, Michael Thompson and the mayor himself.

Signal Toronto asked the mayor’s office to ask if his position has changed since July 2016 when it comes to using a gender and equity analysis when making decisions about the city’s budget.

Don Peat, the mayor’s spokesperson, referred to the motion passed in 2017 from Councillor Wong-Tam that directed staff to “develop an Intersectional Gender-Based Framework with indicators that will help determine the impacts of City programs and services on various genders during the 2018 Budget process, with the goal of promoting an equitable, effective and appropriate resource allocation to support gender equity, and report back on the progress of the framework, indicators and an implementation plan at the October 2, 2017 meeting of City Council.”

Asked if the mayor supports using disaggregated data for equitable program planning and service delivery, Peat responded with few words. “The Mayor’s vote speaks for itself.“