I’d like to start off with thanks. Thanks to the organizers for keeping this movement growing and strong, thanks to my fellow speakers, it’s an honour to be up here with you, and thanks to all of you (indicating audience) for being here today.

I’ve only got so much time, so I just want to note when I use words like women and men, I’m referring to how we each identify.

That being said I’d like to call on the cis-men for a moment. First, thank you for being here, and now that you are here I have some homework for you. Your task is to go back to your fellow cis-men and tell them all you see and here today, because the women around you have been doing that job for far too long.

I’m here for some of those women, and some that are not here.

I’m here for women fighting for disability justice and Mad Pride.

I’m here for women who couldn’t be here because they couldn’t leave their homes, or couldn’t afford to get here.

I’m here for people living for months in women’s shelters because they’ve got no accessible place to go. Or worse, living with those who abuse them.

I’m here for all of us who need an accessible, affordable place to live.

I’m here for women fighting to have families, and fighting to keep those families together.

I’m here for women who organize women, and those who are here for the first time.

I’m here to remember Kimberly Rogers, who died because Conservative politicians decided to get tough on social assistance, and I say never again!

We will not allow our sisters to be dragged into the darkness by Ford and his cronies who think they can separate us be redefining disability to serve their own agenda

We are disabled and mad women, we are in every community, and we will not go back!

A response to “Ontario Welfare Reforms Welcome News“.

Dear Editor,

I’m writing in response to the editorial posted on July 31, 2018 with regard to Ontario’s recent “welfare reforms”. As a front-line social worker, a former recipient of the Ontario Disability Support Program, and a current City Council candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, I thought I might help you out by clearing up a few things in regards to what you mentioned.

You are correct, poverty has certainly gotten worse in the last 15 years. You are also right that Ontario’s social assistance system is far too bureaucratic, and that people living in poverty spend a lot of time being consulted, without seeing much change. Ontario desperately needs an increase in affordable housing. These are all problems we can fix in this province, with the political will to do so.

Many front-line workers are stuck in a system that first devalues people on social assistance, and then penalizes them for trying to earn a decent wage.

People without decent, affordable housing or food to eat have much greater barriers to finding work. Social assistance does not cover Toronto rent prices, let alone food to eat or transit fare to get to an interview.

Any sensible business person would know that when people are invested in and supported, they can participate more in the economy. Cutting social assistance rates, scrapping basic income, and lowering the minimum wage lacks common sense.

We deserve better, Ontario.

Sincerely,

Melissa Graham

City Council Candidate for Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and front-line Social Worker

Hello, my name is Melissa Graham, I’m a candidate in Toronto municipal election this year, in Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

The following statement is not just to address the amazing people following and supporting my campaign, but to my friends and family across Ontario.

The Big Smoke is in trouble Ontario, and we need your support.

Premier Doug Ford is trying to cut our city council, by nearly half, and we need your help to stop that from happening.

If Ford succeeds in passing these changes, it would mean that every city council member would be responsible for a population the size of the City of Thunder Bay.

Now I’ve been in Thunder Bay. It is a beautiful, diverse city on the shores of Lake Superior, with a strong indigenous community, a college, a university, a law school. They have unique cuisine like pet-a-han, and Persians. I’d love to represent a city like Thunder Bay if I lived there, but it’s simply too big and diverse for one person to represent. In fact they have 13 councillors serving an area, that Ford wants one person to serve here in Toronto

My Ward will still exist if this goes though, but being a City Councillor is a about a lot more than what goes on at city hall. City Councillors are the people you go to when your driveway keeps getting snowed in, or your housing provider won’t fix the elevator in your building. It’s about taking those calls every day, knowing what you community needs, and finding innovate solutions to meet their needs.

Our Premier wants us to believe this will save the province money, but a City without effective democratic representation can’t function efficiently. It also goes against principals of the Supreme Court of Canada.

That’s why I’m asking you Ontario, to think about what your democracy is worth, and contact your MPP today, especially if you live in a conservative riding..

With your help your local MPP can reject this plan, and we can get Premier Ford’s attention back on the province of Ontario where it should be.

Thank you for your support, and remember to vote on or before October 22nd!

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Melissa Graham

City Council Candidate for Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Strong Communities, Real Action

 

Save the Date: Saturday, September 22, 2018

Starting at Queens Park (111 Wellesley Street West) and marching to the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson (99 Gerrard Street East) from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Why we’re Marching:

  • To bring recognition of the struggles and value of people with disabilities as we fight against ableism, sanism and other forms of oppression.
  • To be visible and show that we have a voice in our community and a right to be heard by taking to the streets.
  • To celebrate and take pride in ourselves as a community of people with disabilities.

Be Loud, Be Proud, Come March with Us!

We have a Fundraising Page and we also accept Paypal donations.

Find us on Facebook and Twitter @DisabilityPM

We need volunteers and marshals for the march! If you have experience that is great, if not we still want you! If you aren’t sure what a marshal does, here’s a brief description. Please fill out the volunteer form if you are interested.

Some  things you should know if you plan to attend.

The Toronto Disability Pride March aims to promote a cross-disability atmosphere, that also recognizes other forms of oppression such as race, class, gender, sexuality, sanism, etc.  We believe the disability movement is strongest in a harmony of voices, not one homogeneous voice. We ask all those who plan to attend the march to respect this approach and the other people within the space of the march.

Just a reminder to book your rides for the march on Saturday if needed! If you need parking, it’s a bit complicated, but not impossible. Leave us an email and we’ll message you directly if you have parking questions.

Please note: accessible washrooms are not available at Queen’s Park. Please see information on accessible washrooms on the route page.

We would also like to invite people to bring their own noisemakers to the march -maracas, tambourines, etc. 

 

Have Questions? email us at torontodisabilitypride@gmail.com .

My partner has been warning me about this for weeks, but I couldn’t let it in. Knowing people were angry, and believing they’d make this choice were very different things in my mind.

I voted early and left for Newfoundland to visit family. The difference between a wealthy province like Ontario, and a province that’s actually struggling is pretty plain out there, especially in health care. Some of my family members have health concerns. They’ve waited for weeks just to get an appointment for an urgent MRI, and a year for a specialist referral.

I do not believe Ontarians devalue their healthcare, their children’s education, or decent wages. I do not believe we have forgotten the Harris years. I also know that the people will not be door mats, and when a politician says one thing and does another, we remember. People made a choice for what they knew.

There’s a strength in Newfoundland that I think we in Ontario will need as well, and that is our neighbors. These are times when we will be tempted towards division, to bunker down and protect our own, but we must make the choice to be stronger than that. The politicians at the end of the day are only names, placeholders on a system that wa never meant to build strong communities. That strength comes from all of us.

The gains we’ve made are not lost.

So please today my friends take time. Take time to heal, have a tea, call a friend, read a book, call someone. Most importantly, talk to your neighbor; find ways to make your community stronger. We’ll need that in the days to come.

We need a national housing strategy now!

Canadians have been urging their governments to recognize housing as a human right for over a decade. Last year, the federal government introduced Canada’s National Housing Strategy and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that “housing rights are human rights”. Now public consultations on the National Housing Strategy’s human rights-based approach to housing are underway until June 2018. The Government of Canada wants to hear what you have to say about the key elements of a human rights-based approach to housing, the proposed approach to new legislation, and new concepts to be explored.

We believe that the federal government MUST recognize that housing is a human right in law. Canada signed international agreements that must be upheld. We need clear remedies to hold our government accountable to their promise. Without recognition of the right to housing in law, a human-rights based approach to housing is merely symbolic.

Click on this link to send…

View original post 187 more words

Dear Mayor Tory,

I write to you as a concerned citizen of Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and the City of Toronto, to request your support to continue with some accessible buses on the 501 streetcar line and other streetcar lines, and for shuttle bus service for major elevator disruptions, and that these items be reflected in the City’s budget for 2018.

Since January 2017, accessible replacement buses have been running across the 501 streetcar route during track reconstruction, this route is scheduled to return to inaccessible this month. Because the replacement buses are accessible and the streetcars are not, this construction has greatly improved my quality of life and that of many other TTC passengers.

Having accessibility on this line allows me to access my closest grocery store, rather than one much further away. It also made it possible for me to take a spontaneous trip to High Park with my young nephews. It made my trips from downtown shorter by half; a particularly safer option for a young woman such as myself when travelling at night to visit friends. I’ve also seen seniors have a much easier time getting to St. Joseph’s Hospital because of the accessibility on that line.

I’m not suggesting we stop having streetcars. Streetcars transport more people than buses, and that’s important. I also know that even if the TTC had all of the new accessible streetcars it ordered from Bombardier, we would still have old streetcars on that line, not enough streetcars were ordered to fully replace them. In short, there is no plan in place to return accessibility on the 501 route to levels experienced in 2017. If the 511 streetcar route can have buses due to a lack of accessible streetcars, the same can be done for the 501, and other routes.

Earlier this year, the elevator was down at Yonge and Bloor station, denying me and many others access to the Bloor line from that station for over a week. At Kennedy Station, that elevator has been down since October and is not scheduled to come back in service until January. The next closest accessible station is Victoria Park. There’s no shuttle service set up between stations either. It’s understandable that sometimes elevators break down, but passengers who use the elevators deserve shuttle buses just as they would have during any other service disruption.

In a world class city like Toronto, we know that people with disabilities deserve equitable service, on the TTC, and that starts with giving passengers with disabilities equitable dignity, respect, and consideration.  The budget for the TTC should reflect that as well.