OCAP Delegation Delivers Strong Message to City Hall:
August 25th, 2014
To Members of Council and City Staff,
We are here today to ask an important question and to deliver a message.
Do the lives of homeless women matter in the City of Toronto?
We ask this question as every day we face the reality of violence against women in our City. This violence is even more acute for women who don't have a place to live or a safe place to go especially at night.
In June, Council approved the recommendation from Community Development and Recreation Committee that the City move forward with the process for establishing two 24 hour drop-in centres for street-involved women. The community was hopeful in this decision, and for a brief time, we celebrated. But instead of seeing this process move forward this fall, we now face a delay until after elections and until 2015. This is despite the fact that Council and Committee gave direction to staff to move forward this year. To us in the community, this delay is unacceptable. We need safe space now.
Raise the Rates Week of Action October 13-17
Liberal MPPs will be going back to Queen’s Park on October 20 but, during the week before, they will be in their local communities and in their constituency offices. Doubtless they will be feeling quite smug after their election win and telling people about how committed to ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice’ they are.
Communities living in poverty know from bitter experience that the reality they face is very different:
- The minimum wage has been set at a level that leaves people in poverty
- Those on Ontario Works (OW) and ODSP are living on incomes that leave them unable to feed themselves and pay the rent
- The real value of social assistance payments has fallen by some 55% since 1994 and people have continued to get poorer during the years the Liberals have been in office
- The vital Community Start Up benefit that kept people housed has been taken away
- Many people on ODSP are now facing medical reviews that threaten to take away their income
24 Hour Drop-ins for Women in Toronto Shamefully Delayed; Important update about August 6th Budget CommitteeSubmitted by ocap on Fri, 08/01/2014 - 00:56.
After repeated sexual assaults on homeless women on the streets of Toronto and while the City shelter system for women in particular is in crisis and operating beyond capacity – women from the community fought to end the violence and for access to safe space.
In a report by City staff the call for two, 24-hour/after-hours drop-ins was supported by Shelter, Support & Housing as well as the Community Development and Recreation committee.
On June 10th, City Council supported the recommendation and voted to begin the process to create these drop-ins. City staff from Shelter Support and Housing Administration Staff were directed to present the funding needed to the upcoming budget committee on August 6 so that at least one space could be ready by the end of this year.
Despite the serious nature of this issue, City staff will not present its report on August 6. The issue of 24 hour drop-ins for women will NOT be on the agenda – deputations, therefore, are cancelled.
It remains unclear at this point what is to happen in order to move the development of this service forward. We are currently working to try to clarify information on this bureaucratic process, and as soon as we have further information we will send that out. However, what we do know is that August 6th is the last Budget Committee meeting, and August 25th is the last Council meeting – if this does come to the floor in August, because of the elections, the issue could be left until sometime in 2015 to proceed and become realized.
Our position is that delays cannot be accepted – money needs to be found and this issue needs to move forward IMMEDIATELY.
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.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is holding a course to offer people some of the knowledge and skills they will need to mobilize in their communities to resist poverty and austerity. Since the last course, OCAP has fought for more shelter beds, a women's drop in, for a raise to social assistance rates, against cuts to ODSP and against gentrification and policing in the downtown East.
4 consecutive Saturdays:
September 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th
followed by a meal each week.
Childcare and transportation costs will be provided and the location is wheelchair accessible, with accessible washrooms.
The Wynne Government has begun a Province wide drive to review the entitlement to benefits of thousands of people on ODSP. The Lankin Sheikh Report that the Government commissioned urges that a 'backlog' of 30,000 cases should be subject to an accelerated medical review process and it appears that this is being acted upon. Staff have been transferred for this purpose and the reviews may move at a rate of 600 cases a month.
Community Responds to TAVIS in Toronto's DTE
Yesterday, Monday June 16th, residents and community organizations held a press conference to demand an end to police sweeps in the Downtown East, to stop police harassment of those who live here and to let the police know that they are not going to let them roam the streets with impunity. Their patrols will be monitored and their abuses challenged.
In this edition:
- Social Assistance Victory, Risks and Resistance
- Victory: Under Pressure, City of Toronto opens Warming Centre at Metro Hall
- Victory: 24 Hour Drop-in Centres for Women in Toronto: Fighting back against violence
- Disabled People Against the Cuts Tour
- Six reasons to oppose the Pan Am Games
- Bad Gas Ontario - Fight the Hike
- Provincial Election 2014
- May Day - Celebrating International Worker’s Day
- Respect for Trans People in Ontario
- The Housing Stabilization Fund: What You Need to Know
- Homeless Shelters in Toronto Desperately Overcrowded
- Battle for the Downtown East
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.