23 questions with Ana Bailão, a candidate to become Toronto’s next mayor

In a city that puts the housing crisis front and centre, former deputy mayor and long-time city councillor Ana Bailão  comes well-prepared to tackle the issue head-on having spent years managing Toronto’s housing portfolio and in her role as the city’s housing advocate.

Here is what Ana Bailão has to say:

What was your first job? 

Cleaning offices in downtown Toronto with my mother when I was 15

What’s the worst piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

When I was a teenager, Portuguese students had a high high school dropout rate. I was encouraged not to pursue a university education and instead take general-level courses. If I had followed that advice, I wouldn’t be here today.

What do you love most about Toronto?

The people.

What do you dislike the most?

The lack of affordability in Toronto

Where is the first place Ana Bailão sends visitors?

Little Portugal of course!

Where is the best view in the city?

Riverdale Park

What is your favourite special occasion restaurant?


What is the last show you saw in Toronto?

A jazz concert at Paradise Theatre

When was the last time you took public transit in Toronto?

Two days ago.

Have you ever commuted by bicycle in the city?

Yes, I cycle around Davenport to run errands and see my friends and family.

Where is your favourite place to get away from it all?

My home.

Gardiner Expressway – continue with hybrid option, yes or no? 

As Mayor I will make sure the provincial government takes back responsibility for the DVP and the Gardiner. The more than $200 million we spend to repair and maintain those highways every year needs to be put towards fixing services and building housing. 

Do you support the Ontario Place Thermé Spa project?

Now that the provincial government announced that they will move the Science Centre to Ontario Place, I am calling on them to guarantee the Science Centre building will be preserved and used to serve the local community. Local residents in Flemingdon Park, Thorncliffe Park, and other surrounding communities should be consulted on their priorities. 

We should not be spending $500 million to subsidize a private spa–that is not what Torontonians are asking for. They’re asking for services and for housing.

As Mayor, I would approve building 5,000 new homes – including 1,500 affordable homes – on the city-owned land where the Science Centre’s parking lot is, and on the land outside of the ravine. We need to be building housing near transit, bringing services to residents, and working with local communities to meet their needs. 

What is your definition of affordable housing?

My definition of affordable housing is one which matches the reality that Toronto is facing. That is why I championed updating the definition of affordable housing to what it is today. We need to be building more homes in Toronto, especially affordable homes. You can find that definition here: Updating the Definitions of Affordable Housing – City of Toronto

What more can the city do to help those experiencing homelessness in Toronto?

We need to support our vulnerable residents with shelter and services and, most importantly, with long-term pathways out of homelessness. I support a housing-first approach, as does our Chief Medical Officer of Health, and as Mayor I will be working to build more supportive and deeply affordable homes. 

Does the city have a public safety problem? If so, what’s your solution?

I have put forward a public safety plan for safer subways, safer streets, and a safer future. My plan includes these measures: 

  • Immediately redeploy and hire TTC staff to have more eyes and ears at stations and on platforms across the city.
  • Bring cell service across the TTC by putting Bell, Rogers, and Telus on notice and pushing the federal government to compel telcos to do so.
  • Increase security camera coverage across the TTC.
  • Reverse all transit cuts and increase cleaning schedules across transit stations.
  • Expand the Toronto Community Crisis Service to cover the entire city, connecting people in crisis with trained mental health professionals.
  • Introduce Mobile Mental Health Clinics working with community health partners in high-priority neighbourhoods and transit stations.
  • Enhance open data collection for better policies, because we can’t fix what we don’t know.
  • Support amending subsection 269.01 of the Criminal Code to include all transit workers, not just operators, who face unacceptable harassment at work. 
  • Support bail reform so violent, repeat offenders are not constantly in a revolving door between courts and city streets.

These measures are on top of ongoing support for the Toronto Police to deploy additional officers across the transit system when needed, and ongoing work to expand the Neighborhood Community Officer program, and to address 9-1-1 wait times.

Are Toronto residents going to have to pay more in taxes to improve quality of life in the city? If not, what’s the answer?

I will not raise property taxes above inflation. There was a significant increase in the most recent budget and right now Torontonians are facing an affordability crisis and a housing crisis. 

Our City’s budget challenges can’t be solved simply by raising property taxes even higher or by finding “efficiencies” and slashing frontline services. Any candidate who says we can solve our budget deficit without the help of the other governments is not being honest. We need a fair deal for Toronto and that starts with the province taking back responsibility for the DVP and the Gardiner. We are the economic engine of our country.

Is Doug Ford’s interference in the city causing a problem, yes or no?

I’m focused on my plan and if elected, I would look forward to working with Premier Ford to build housing and fix services. 

What would you say is Toronto’s most iconic food?

Nantas! A Portuguese special!

If you were to support a car-free zone in the city where would it be?

One of the things celebrated by Toronto residents and visitors alike are our incredible festivals, including Nuit Blanche and TIFF. Selective and community-appropriate road closures are part of a vibrant city culture and can be well executed with consultation and planning.

Is the city doing enough to battle the climate crisis? If not, what would Ana Bailão do differently?

Environmental policy is connected to everything we do as a city. The most effective way to reach our climate goals is to get Torontonians out of their cars and onto public transit. I am the only candidate who is focused on improving transit to drive ridership, and build housing in the city. 

What should be done regarding public transit, the cuts and the low ridership?

The only way to drive ridership back up to pre-pandemic levels is by making sure the TTC is clean, safe, and convenient. If elected Mayor I will reverse service cuts, hire more TTC staff, expand security camera coverage, and increase cleaning schedules.

What is your best quality?

Whether it’s City Council, community leaders, or the provincial or federal government, I have always been good at working with others to deliver for our city.

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