Basic Income in the Hands of the Liberal Party


Image description: The lower third of a Canadian hundred dollar bill, broken up into puzzle pieces

Both the Federal Government and the Wynne Regime in Ontario have been making noises of late about the notion of introducing a system of Basic Income. The Provincial Budget even suggests that a pilot project will be set in motion in a community to be determined. Clearly, a significant development in the area of social policy is possible and we must ask ourselves how we should view this.

At first glance, especially as the impact of austerity and social cutbacks throws ever more people into poverty, the idea that everyone should be guaranteed a certain minimum level of income that lifts them out of poverty is enormously appealing. If that was all we were considering here, the matter would be very clear cut and Basic Income would have our unqualified support. Sadly, however, things are less straightforward and the issue raises some alarm bells. In this regard, there are several questions to consider.

129 Years of Neglect: A Brief History of Toronto's Shelter Conditions, 1887 - 2016


Image description: Map from 1890, yellowed with age. At the corner of Elm and Elizabeth Streets, there is a large building occupying 8 blocks labeled "POOR HOUSE"; this is the House of Industry mentioned below

The warehousing of homeless people in Toronto in overcrowded and vile conditions has a long history, as this collection from the past shows. Under the impact of austerity and redevelopment, the situation in 2016 is especially dreadful. The appalling levels of overcrowding are lethal at the moment and constitute an assault on health and dignity. OCAP is demanding that the Federal Armouries be opened to provide emergency shelter, as they were at various times in the 1990s and again in 2004. Pressure must be take off the system and we and our allies are working hard to prevail up Mayor John Tory and the City Council to act immediately.

As Food Prices Soar, Ontario Liberal Budget Intensifies the War on the Poor


Image description: Infographic titled "Rising Canadian Food Prices". Text includes: onions - +17%, carrots - +14%, potatoes - +14%, beef - +14%, celery - +46%, apples - +12%, macaroni - +13%, soup - +11%, grapefruit - +23%. Image courtesy of Calgary Food Bank; data from Statistics Canada

The 2016 Ontario Budget provides an increase for those on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) that is pegged below even the official rate of inflation, let alone the real cost of living increases that poor people are experiencing.

The Budget provides a wretched 1.5% increase to those on social assistance, with an extra pittance for those with the lowest incomes of all, single people without children on OW, that will provide them with a total additional payment of $25 a month. At present, they are seeking to survive on a maximum of $681 a month. These increases will not even kick in until September and October.

#OutintheCold Report Officially Released!


Image description: Cover of the Out in the Cold report: A picture of a gymnasium full of sleeping mats and chairs, along with backpacks, sleeping bags and garbage bags. Above the picture on an orange background are the words "Out in the Cold: The Crisis in Toronto's Shelter System"

A survey and study of Toronto's shelter system backup, the volunteer-run Out of the Cold (OOTC) program, conducted last month by members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty has been publicly released today and is already driving discussion around the ongoing implosion of the emergency shelter system.

Why Poor & Homeless People Should Welcome The Refugees


Image description: Graffiti on a white wall in black letters that reads REFUGEES WELCOME!

Over the last few weeks, the OCAP office has taken a lot of calls from people living in poverty who question whether refugees should be allowed into Canada when so many are experiencing homelessness and hard times. An expression we keep hearing is that 'we should take care of our own first'. This is our response to such ideas and to those who want us to blame the refugees rather than look at the real reasons why there is poverty and homelessness.

Canada has, of course, been shaped by immigration and the history of the people who have come here is hardly a picture of easy times and luxurious treatment. Those fleeing persecution and poverty have always experienced discrimination and super exploitation. At the same time, immigrants have always faced the lie that they were somehow 'queue jumpers' enjoying special treatment. Refugees coming here today from Syria and other countries face the same slanders. Lots of hateful and false claims of refugees getting special treatment are all over the internet. One widely circulated offering, for example, suggested that refugees are provided with $2,470 per month when this figure included a one time start up payment and presented it as monthly payment. Those who are privately sponsored, moreover, don't get government assistance. The free ride for the refugees is a racist myth you should take with a whole salt mine.

City of Toronto Welfare ID Policy Hurting Immigrants Defeated!

At the beginning of September, Toronto Social Services adopted a new policy with regard to the ID that would be required of people who are not Canadian citizens.

OCAP Occupies Second Floor of City Hall to Protest Loss of Shelter Beds in Downtown East!


Image description: OCAP members occupy the rotunda of Toronto City Hall, draping a pink banner reading WE WILL NOT BE PUSHED OUT over the side of the railing

OCAP Members Occupy Rotunda at City Hall as Council Approves George Street "Revitalization"

OCAP Shuts Down Yonge & Dundas! #shelterforall


Image description: OCAP members hold a red and yellow banner reading "WE WILL NOT BE PUSHED OUT: More Shelter and Housing Now!" across an intersection crosswalk. To their right, a woman holds a black sign reading GENTRIFICATION above her head and to their left, a streetlight with a blue Yonge Street sign atop it

OCAP Shuts Down Yonge & Dundas, Demanding Immediate Action to End Toronto's Shelter Crisis!

Earlier today (September 21), members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) blocked traffic for over 40 minutes at Canada's busiest intersection, during the lunch hour rush. Earlier in the day, we staged a rally and meal at Toronto City Hall and marched up to Yonge and Dundas as it concluded. Upon reaching Yonge-Dundas Square, a few dozen activists, allies and supporters rushed into the street and began laying flowers and memorial signs around the perimeter of the intersection, preventing traffic from moving by blocking lanes. Speeches were made and banners unfurled mere meters away from the bus shelter where a man froze to death in January of this year.

Open Letter to Mayor John Tory Regarding Toronto's Shelter Crisis


Image description: A chain link fence in the foreground has a banner hung on it saying "NO MORE HOMELESS DEATHS", while in the background a large red brick building has a banner hung from its roof reading "HOUSING NOW"

September 18, 2015

Mayor Tory,

You will doubtless remember the homeless deaths that happened in this City at the beginning of the year. At the time, promises were made to reduce the level of overcrowding but nothing of the kind has happened. If we look at the latest Daily Shelter Census, issued by the City, we see an (understated) overall occupancy figure of 95%, with the men’s system running at 96% and the women’s at 97%. We must presume there is simply no intention of complying with the 90% policy that Council has adopted.

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