Toronto-city is fast becoming the city for the affluent. As we drive around the downtown residential areas we see gorgeous homes, exquisite renovations, lush landscaped gardens and a feeling of serenity.

For those who prefer glass enclosed condominium luxury, there are beautiful options.

Driving west along a three kilometre stretch of the Gardiner Expressway recently I counted twenty-one tall cranes all busily cobbling together more urban towers for those who can afford them.

Juxtaposed with that picture at the time, I was listening to a CBC radio interview with two women, both minimum-wage earners, both in the service industry and both struggling to make ends meet.

One lived in Scarborough and the other in the Jane-Finch area. They were discussing how difficult transit is in Toronto.

To get to their jobs at 7 am they each have to leave their homes at 4:30 am because public transit takes two hours to get them to their downtown jobs.

Imagine in situations where the workers have little children? Those children have to be awakened at 4:30 am to be taken to caregivers, grandparents or whatever arrangements have had to be made for their care while their parents rush off to work. Innocent children caught in the cycle of poverty.

This scenario is repeated thousands of times each day as poor people scramble to get to work.

These are the house-cleaners, nannies, gardeners and others workers who serve those beautiful homes and condos and also the thousands in other service jobs like factory workers, building maintenance crews, office cleaners, elder-care support workers, restaurant servers and the list goes on.

Statistics on personal wealth places Toronto very high on the list of wealthy cities.

But census data as reported by the Toronto Star’s social justice reporter Laurie Monsebraaten, (November 2017) shows that Toronto is clearly segregated along income lines.

Those who serve Toronto’s affluent cannot afford to live in Toronto.

Yes, there are pockets of public housing blocks, but we see those disappearing as the appetite of the affluent grows and wealthy incomes rise as low-wage earners see their incomes drop or disappear.

The Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) report dubs Toronto “the inequality capital of Canada”. And the Toronto wealth pie has no slices for the poor and for those minimum-wage workers who silently serve our wealthy.

So, what about the politicians? The only time we hear from most of them is during election campaigns when they all, without exception, make huge promises which lure voters.

However, once elected most forget their promises as they settle into their guaranteed income jobs and pension plans.

I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know the costs of poverty on the children of the poor.

I have seen those impacts in forty years of serving students in schools.

It is heartbreaking to see children arrive at school sleepy, hungry and undernourished in so many ways while their parents struggle to pay the rent and put food on the table.

One cannot force a conscience on wealthy people – one cannot magically make them realize that their servants, nannies, house-cleaners and support-workers are part of a huge struggling under-class who need to have a share in this democracy.

That their children are starving.

People in rich circles have networks, great technology and well-connected family mentors and friends, so the good jobs mostly go to them.

Whereas, children of the poor, make do in struggling neighborhood community centres with dwindling support from government.

What are the futures of those children?

Whom can they and their parents trust?

                                                                                                                                                       – Dr Vicki Bismilla


• Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer. She has authored two books.





Dear Didi,

All my friends are allowed to sleep in, and not just on weekends. They go to bed when they want to, get up when they want to. My parents will not let me sleep past six in the morning. They say I have reversed day and night and this will make me unfit for the “real world”. That just because my friends are allowed to do so doesn’t make it okay – if they jump over a cliff, will you do the same? We are having an existential debate when all I want is a few hours’ sleep!                                                                      – Sleepless in Toronto

Ahh! The joy of going to sleep when you want to and getting up when you feel like it. It’s a beautiful, freeing thing to start your day on your terms and a very adult way to be. I hear ya! It really is a lovely way to begin and before you know it, you will be able to start the day whichever way you want, when you are firmly in the “real world”. But don’t be in too much of a hurry! I know your parents don’t seem to be in any hurry to follow your friends’ parents lead, maybe because in India they didn’t have a choice. 

The generation that grew up in rural India had to get up with the sun, do their chores and contribute to the family. It only ended when the sun went down that it was time to sleep and rest, so they could get up and do it all over again. That’s what they mean about reversing day and night. Things are different here, but even in India now. We are not as tied to sunlight, so really, we can get up and go to sleep when we please.

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to sleep in either – I think most parents think it will make their children lazy sleeping in. All I wanted was a few hours’ of sleep, too, that is until I realized the Saturday morning cartoons were lots of fun to watch with my Honeycombs in chocolate milk! Or getting up early to share a cup of my dad’s chai as he left for work and I got to snuggle in bed to read my books. It was the only time where the two of us spent any time just one on one and it is a cherished memory.

I loved the way my dad made his chai. You can really do whatever you want when you get up early enough and all the stuff you can accomplish during the day is pretty awesome.

You can also say that it is important for you to get your rest since you are still growing. Even a few hours of additional sleep can help your body regenerate itself. I think everything in moderation works best so try to come up with a solution that works for you and your parents. Maybe there can be a compromise where you get to sleep in a bit on weekends possibly even past the time you get up to go to school, say 9am – a full three more hours of glorious sleep!  Sleep well!


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In religion, there are often many rules for what is clean and what is not clean.

People apply this to food. Certain foods are declared unclean like meats, eggs or alcoholic beverages. They subject themselves to regulations – “do not touch, do not taste, do not handle...” 

People also apply this to various washings. They do not eat or do not handle religious things unless they wash their hands in a special way, upholding the traditions of their fathers. This may be done for many reasons. Perhaps one reason is that this is one way of making oneself ritually clean before God. But does the adhering to various washings and food rules make people clean before God? Do these help us in such a way that God hears and favours us?

The Lord Jesus answers this question. He says, “There is nothing that enters a man from the outside which can defile him.” He says, “the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.” 

“Defile”, of course, means ‘to make dirty.’

So what kinds of things come out of a person that makes him dirty? It’s those things from within. The Lord Jesus gives a list, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” He concludes His talk by saying, “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

So all the ‘dirt’ within, in our hearts is what makes people not clean. Jesus says that this is the real problem with us. Our hearts are the real problem. There is nothing than can sanitize our hearts. Sadhu Sunder Singh described the problem in this way.  He said that if we take a piece of black charcoal, we can use all kinds of soaps and cleaners. But even then, after we are all done, the charcoal is still black.

What will make a person clean? Only the Lord Jesus can make a person clean. We need to go to Him for cleansing. That’s why He died on the cross. He died on the cross for unclean people. That’s how much He loved the world. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

He is the answer! He can make you and me clean!

 • Reverend Tony Zekveld can be reached at 416-740-0543 and


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