Two Important upcoming events in the fight for decent
shelter space in the City of Toronto:
1) Rally and Outdoor Meal
Thursday, March 28 ~ 6.00 PM ~ Metro Hall, King and John
2) All Out to City Council
Wednesday, April 3rd ~ 9:30 PM ~ Toronto City Hall
Check Facebook for updates:
After weeks of determined community action to force the City to
respond to the crisis of overcrowding in its shelter system, the
Community Development and Recreation Committee met on March 18.
Dozens of powerful deputations were presented by those with experience
of homelessness, front line workers and advocates. Despite a staff
report still trying to suggest that the shelters were adequate, the
myth of a system that is coping with the needs of those on the streets
died on the floor of that committee room. Its members called on
Council to return to a policy of opening more shelter spaces when the
system reached 90% capacity but, astoundingly, recommended only that
172 'flex beds' be opened. This means putting down mats on the floor
of already overcrowded shelters and pushing capacity well beyond 96%.
At the same time, the church run Out-of-the-Cold program is set to
close at the end of March meaning more people will be looking for a
bed in even fewer spaces.
OCAP COMMUNITY ORGANIZING COURSE 2013
Following the great success of our first Community Organizing Course
in October 2012, OCAP is holding a second 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 been on the front lines of some major fights against social
cutbacks and homelessness and the second course will benefit from
A free course on community organizing – who keeps us poor, understanding poverty and capitalism, histories of resistance in Toronto, and ways to fight back and win!
DATES: 4 consecutive Saturdays – April 27th, May 4th, 11th, and 18th
TIME: 2-5pm, followed by a meal each week.
*Childcare and transportation costs will be provided and the location
will be wheelchair accessible. An exciting four week children’s
program is in the works!
Week 1 (April 27th): A brief introduction to OCAP. How do capitalism and colonialism work? How do they produce poverty? What is the austerity agenda and how is it playing out in our communities?
Week 2 (May 4th): How does the law and the welfare system regulate the poor? How does OCAP organize actions to defend people under attack by these systems?
Week 3 (May 11th): How can poor people use disruptive action to defend themselves and win victories? How are effective campaigns and actions organized?
Week 4 (May 18th): Histories of anti-poverty resistance in Toronto. Presentations by course participants. What have we learned and how are we going to take that knowledge into our communities?
This course is for people who want to fight back. Those who participate will be presented with ideas and methods that OCAP has
developed over more than twenty years of organizing in poor communities. We can offer knowledge and skills that they don't teach
in schools and you won't get from the newspapers. We intend the
sessions to be lively, engaging and informative. The opinions and
proposals of those who attend will be vital to the success. If you are
interested in being part of this course, contact OCAP as soon as
possible. We want to stress that all who agree to participate should
make a serious commitment to attending all four sessions. Please
don't reserve a spot, unless you can make that commitment. Space is
limited to allow for maximum engagement with participants.
How to apply:
**Please email or call us with the following information AS SOON AS POSSIBLE:
Email and/or phone contact:
What do you hope to get out of the course?
What area of Toronto will you be coming from?
Do you need childcare?
Do you have an accessibility concerns?
Send to: the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty at: email@example.com / 416-925-6939
All Out to the Community Development and Recreation Committee Monday, March 18th 9 AM Toronto City HallSubmitted by ocap on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 19:32.
*Gathering outside the main doors at 9 AM with Coffee and snacks
*See below on how to sign-up to speak
On Monday, March 18th we will be going back to City Hall to the
Community Development and Recreation Committee. First on the agenda
that day is the item ‘Update on Emergency Shelter Services’. We are
calling for everyone to join us on this day – pack the room, sign up
for deputations, demand from the City that they open up space and deal
with the crisis on the streets!
For the past few months, OCAP and allies have been raising the alarms
around a series of homeless deaths and consistent overcrowding in the
shelters. We have occupied space in front of Ford’s office and then
again at Metro Hall to demand that additional shelter space be opened
up. The response of Ford and his supporters has been to attack those
speaking out, to blatantly make up numbers, and to dismiss deaths on
the streets as ‘personal choice’.
By the City’s own admission, shelters are operating at 96% capacity.
On top of this, the daily experiences of homeless people, advocates
and front line workers lead to the inescapable conclusion that this
City's shelter system is overloaded and in crisis. When spaces are
over 90% capacity the overcrowding creates tension, conditions worsen
and for many are intolerable. This small 3 – 4% margin of availability
does not account for beds for women, co-eds, families, or for people
who are unable for reasons of safety to go to certain spaces. In the
Shelter Support and Housing Administration’s own report, they admit to
occupancy bed-checks being done at 4am –long after people have tried
to seek out a space.
Fittingly, the second item on the agenda of the March 18th Committee
meeting is ‘Review of the Centralized Waiting List for Social
Housing’. The waiting list for Housing in Toronto has approximately 90
000 households on it and is an abysmal 10 years long. This on top of
skyrocketing private rents, the lack of sufficient income for those on
welfare or disability, Provincial cuts to programs like Community
Start-Up, and cuts to shelter beds and supports over the years, have
created this crisis that we face right now.
STREET SEX WORKERS AND OUR ALLIES STAND UP FOR FULL DECRIMINALIZATION OF OUR LIVES
Mar 2, 2013
March 3 2013 Collective statement
March 3 is International Sex Workers Rights Day, started in 2001 by Indian Sex workers union DMSC. On this day, we sex workers with street level experience and our allies state our support for the repeal of ALL prostitution offenses in Turtle Island/Canada, including section 213 prohibiting communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution. Like so many others, this law defines us as nuisances, not humans deserving of rights and protections--and as a result, over 90% of all prostitution arrests are under section 213. This especially affects street based workers who are racialized, Indigenous, drug users, mothers, youth, trans, migrant, and poor and who are targeted by the police for being who we are. These paternalistic and moralizing laws are part of a whole system that has led to a great deal of state and interpersonal violence against members of our communities.
The sex working community and our allies stand against this—because we know that safety and justice come from rights and power—not criminalization!
Metro Hall: King and John St, Toronto
The City of Toronto refuses to admit that the homeless shelter system
is in a lethal crisis of overcrowding. By the City's own admission,
homeless shelters are operating at 96% capacity. This represents cond itions of such overcrowding and tension that people are being forced onto the streets and lives are being lost. Every effort has been made to convince both the administration and politicians to act and open an emergency facility but we have been met with steadfast refusal. City Council refused even to debate the issue when this was proposed by Councillor Adam Vaughan.
For the past several weeks, OCAP and allies have been forcing the
issue of homeless deaths and the crisis in the Toronto shelter system
in to the light of day. We brought a delegation to Shelter, Support
and Housing Administration, we held a rally at their offices, we
delivered a set of demands signed by over 1000 people (see here:
http://update.ocap.ca/node/1053), and then last Friday we set up an
emergency shelter in front of Mayor Rob Ford’s office on the eve of
another extreme cold weather alert (http://update.ocap.ca/node/1057).
As a result, Councillor Adam Vaughan brought an emergency motion
today, Wednesday, February 20th, for City Council to immediately open
up debate on the issue. Despite many councillors speaking in favour,
the motion failed and the issue was deferred to a March 18th Community
Development Meeting. March 18th is not only a long time to wait, but
will mean further reports and deferral – all while the crisis on the
streets grows and more deaths are a grim possibility. We maintain that
this is an emergency situation; at least 7 homeless people have died
in 2013, with 34 deaths in 2012.
Before today’s motion at City Council, OCAP held a press conference
where we talked about the history of spaces being opened up in the
city to meet shelter needs– an example of which is Metro Hall in 1999.
Metro Hall is owned/operated by the City and could, relatively
speaking, be easily opened up as emergency shelter space. We are
concerned with the pattern of ramming people in to already overcrowded
shelters or people forced to sleep on the waiting room floor of the
Peter Street referral centre itself. We stated publicly today that
should the motion at City Council fail, and should the City fail to
act on this urgent matter, that we will be opening up space ourselves
on March 7th.
A message from the Raise the Rates Campaign
Once again the Ontario Liberals are playing political games with poor people’s lives. New Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne is trying to make people forget McGuinty’s legacy of brutal cuts by toying with offering small scraps of relief for people on social assistance - an additional $100/month for ‘single employables on Ontario Works’ (individuals on welfare) and the right to keep up to $200/month of income for everyone else. There will be attempts to spin this as a gain for poor people in Ontario, but the Liberals have again failed to meet the demands that poor people have been making for the last decade.
Wynne and the Liberals have seen poor and working people building resistance to Liberal austerity. This past December, we forced $42 million out of the government in money that they had intended to cut as part of the elimination of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit - money that they said did not exist. Our fightback has the Liberals worried and they are betting that these small increases will slow the momentum of this movement. Once again, this government has underestimated poor people in Ontario - we will not accept concessions and we will never back down on our demand to Raise the Rates!
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) offers its support, solidarity and respect to the Idle No More movement and all ongoing Indigenous resistance against Canadian colonialism and racism.
Canada is a state built on the displacement and genocide of Indigenous peoples – this continues today and is clear in the policies of the Harper Government. It’s omnibus budget bills, and not-yet passed legislation to move towards privatization of reserve lands, represent the latest chapter in a generations-long attempt by Canada’s settler governments to dispossess Indigenous nations from their land in the interest of resource extraction, and as a means of attacking and undermining indigenous culture and nationhood.
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.