The following letter has been sent to the City official ultimately responsible for unleashing the disgraceful police operation on Tuesday against OCAP members and supporters demanding safe space and shelter for the homeless. We will not be intimidated, much less silenced, by such tactics and incoming Mayor, John Tory, will soon have these issues brought to his attention.
Phillip Abrahams, General Manager,
Shelter Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto
Following the events that took place on Tuesday, we wish to convey our outrage at the deplorable way our members and supporters were treated and to inform you that we hold you responsible for this.
Picture from Today's Action:
While the shelters are overcrowded and there is still no after-hours
drop-in for women and trans people in Toronto, the City chose to violently
arrest 5 women rather than open safe space now. The City has acknowledged
that there is a serious issue with the lack of shelter space and need for
the drop-in yet it does nothing. It is cold and will only get colder. More
people will get sick or even die on the streets because of their inaction.
Women are being sexually assaulted on an ongoing basis with no safe space
to go yet bureaucratic stalling has delayed the drop-in that Council
Those arrested have all been released from police custody and are facing
charges of mischief and trespass. They will be in court for first
appearance shortly. More details to follow about supporting those arrested.
The fight for shelter and safe space continues.
Issues of violence against women have been getting a lot more attention in the news than usual in the past few weeks. In these conversations you sometimes hear reference to survivors as ‘educated’ or as ‘public figures’. The media emphasis on the class standing of survivors implies that certain lives and stories of violence are more ‘believable’ (just barely) – while others can be more easily dismissed.
November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. For the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty it marks one year since the demand for a 24 hour women and trans drop-in was launched in Toronto. This followed the assault of a homeless woman, twice in one night, while sleeping on some steps at the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne. That incident, and the subsequent reaction by many (including police) to dismiss the woman, assuming she was ‘trading sex for drugs’ - is sadly not shocking and all too common for women on the streets.
Tuesday, November 25th @ 12noon
*Rally, Meal and Action
George Hislop Park north end: Charles St (between Yonge and Church)
Click here for a map
Join the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and allies this coming November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to fight for:
- 24 Hour women and trans drop-ins NOW
- Open Shelters: real beds, not flex beds!
- Safe, affordable, and accessible HOUSING FOR ALL!
Messages of Solidarity from some of our allies in Quebec & Britain-
"The tenants of the working class neighbourhoods in the Southwest of Montréal are with you in spirit on November 25th for your important day of action in defense of street-associated populations. We'll be tweeting John Tory to let him know that in Toronto and elsewhere, the private market can never meet the needs of tenants, and that many eyes are watching him!
Fred Burrill, Organisateur communautaire
"DPAC are sending solidarity to comrades in OCAP campaigning to save the lives of homeless people who are being denied shelter in freezing winter temperatures by rich politicians and bureaucrats. We will be joining in your campaign via twitter and highlighting the problems faced in Canada as well as in the UK"
You may already have heard about the November 25 action that OCAP is organizing to demand that the City of Toronto deal with the dangerous crisis of overcrowding within its homeless shelter system. As part of this action, we'll be sending the included open letter to Mayor elect John Tory; Organizations that wish to to sign onto the letter please email us at ocap[at]tao.ca and we'll include you as a signer. INDIVIDUALS PLEASE CLICK HERE to SIGN the ONLINE PETITION
Our fantastic allies Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in the UK are helping to support our November 25 action against the abandonment of Toronto's homeless. After at least 100 people have signed onto this a list of tweets directed at Mayor elect John Tory, which will be sent out at noon on the day of our action so that calls for him to act on shelter overcrowding and drop in space for homeless women will come in from across Canada and internationally.
Please also sign onto this and help make sure that the action on the streets gets a nice echo on social media!
Dear Mr. Tory:
On December 2, you will become the Mayor of Toronto. By then, we shall be facing the onset of a winter that is predicted to be especially severe and you will be the Chief Magistrate of a city that does not have in place a basic infrastructure to provide even bare shelter for those who are facing homelessness.
Doubtless you will have a fairly substantial 'to do list' in front of you as you take on your new responsibilities but we'd like to suggest that responding to the homeless crisis should be the most urgent priority of all. We say this not simply because lives are at stake, although this is certainly the case with the Homeless Memorial marking three more tragic deaths this month. We also drive home this point because, as far as we are concerned, a City that is ready to abandon human beings to destitution as winter sets in can't be trusted to meet any social needs with any diligence.
Pictures from Today's Action
We are circulating the statement below for endorsement by agencies, anti-poverty groups, unions, and other allies. Please forward it widely.
To add your name to the list of endorsing organizations, please contact Parkdale Community Legal Services 416-531-2411 ext. 248 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We are encouraging groups to take up this issue as part of the
Raise the Rates provincial Week of Action, Oct. 13-17
For more information:
like Raise the Rates on Facebook
Stepped Up ODSP Medical Reviews Will Mean Improper Denial and Needless Hardship
During the recent Provincial Election, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals distanced themselves from the crude right wing ideas of the Hudak Tories by pointing to their ‘progressive’ Provincial Budget over which the election was fought. In fact, this document is not quite the road map to ‘social justice’ it claims to be.
What the Liberals actually set out in their Budget plan is a multi-year blueprint to cut the spending for government programs in Ontario. If you take into account inflation and population increases, the Budget actually represents a commitment to shrink services and reduce deficits on the backs of those least able to afford the cost. Those on Ontario Works (OW) and ODSP will receive a 1% increase below the rate of inflation that will see them fall deeper into poverty. The vital Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit, that people used to obtain or retain housing, will not be restored. Low wage workers will see the minimum wage indexed to inflation but kept at a level that condemns them to working poverty. While the poor fall further behind, landlords are allowed to increase their rents at or above the rate of inflation and billions of dollars that the ‘cash strapped’ Government could use to reduce its deficit are handed to wealthy corporations in the form of tax breaks.
OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union) Joins on to the Raise the Rates Campaign!
The Raise the Rates Campaign represents a broad and growing consensus amongst community groups, unions and anti-poverty activists about social assistance in this province. Together we reject attempts to divide poor people on assistance between those on Ontario Works and those on Ontario Disability Support Program. We are united in this fight and building alliances with all those living in poverty, people working low-wage precarious jobs, and unionized workers.
As little as $10 a month can help us maintain our work across this city and it just got easier to give.
For close to 20 years the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty has been at the forefront of community based resistance to regressive social policy from all levels of government. We have helped inspire numerous groups across this country and continent, been studied in universities and college programs and most importantly we have time after time organized poor communities to stand up and take what’s theirs. To fight for their dignity and for justice.
Today we are engaged day to day in the fight against City Hall, Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill. Making sure that repairs are done in community housing, fighting for each and every entitlement on welfare and disability and working to win fundamental changes that will mean better housing, more to eat and better social programs.
All of this continues to be carried out on a shoestring budget. Year after year we scrape by on the generosity of our members and supporters, primarily by those who answer our emergency appeals for cash when we are on the brink of laying off staff or closing our office. Our monthly expenses are by no means outrageous. We pay our staff what we can, cover basic bills and operate a small office. Every month we are thousands of dollars short of covering our expenses.
Our goal is to change all of that by the end of this year. We are looking for all supporters of our work to pitch in and help support the struggle by becoming a part of our monthly sustainers program. Please only donate what you can. Five dollars helps. Ten dollars helps. And if you can afford to give more please do.
To become a monthly sustainer, send a void cheque with amount and which date of the month you'd prefer it to be processed to:
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
157 Carlton, # 206,
For more information call us at 416-925-6939 or email email@example.com.