Economic Justice

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

Let’s not let affordable housing be another broken promise from Trudeau.

  • 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year.
  • 1 in 5 renters spend more than half their income on housing.
  • 1.5 million households can’t find decent housing they can afford.
  • The affordability of housing for low-income families living in social and co‑operative housing is uncertain, as federal funding agreements will expire. In the absence of a new federal commitment, by 2020, 175,000 fewer low-income households will be assisted compared to 2010.
  • Indigenous households living in cities and communities experience higher rates of homelessness and are more likely to be living in precarious housing than non-Indigenous Canadians.

In an effort to keep housing on the agenda, Acorn Canada has come up with the following template email that you can copy and paste and send to your Member of Parliament.

How to Find Your MP.

Sample Email:

Subject: We need affordable and livable housing now!

Dear Honorable [YOUR MP],

As a resident of [YOUR CITY] we need the federal government to make affordable and livable housing a major priority in the upcoming budget. The housing situation across the country is a crisis, with hundreds and thousands of people living in sub-standard housing. CMHC reports that about 3.3 million Canadians (about 1.5 million households) are in core housing need at any given time.

Please ensure that resources from every ministry are added to the lump some of money being given to housing. Poor and unaffordable housing affects every aspect of people’s lives from physical to mental health and more.

Thank you,

[YOUR NAME]

Did you email your Member of Parliament? Let us know in the comments below.

Electro-Motive, a subsidiary of U.S. industrial giant Caterpillar Inc., wants to strong-arm workers at its London plant into a pay cut of over 50 percent, dropping hourly wages from $35 to $16.50. It is also imposing devastating cuts to benefits and pensions on members of CAW Local 27 at a time when the company has enjoyed multi-billion-dollar profits and a 20 percent boost to production over last year.

A day of action has been called by the OFL in solidarity with these workers: http://www.ofl.ca/index.php/html/index_in/stop_caterpillar_london_day_of_action_sat_jan_21_11_am/

City Council will be voting on January 17, 18 and 19 on the 2012 City budget.  At present, there are $85 million in cuts on the table, as well as, a TTC fare hike and increases to recreation user fees.  The budget includes elimination of hundreds of good City jobs – jobs that employ people who deliver vital services in our communities.  As well, the budget includes a 9.8% cut to community grants that enable nonprofit community organizations to provide much-needed programs and services across Toronto.  We need to protect our communities from these harmful cuts.
Please come out to the rally on Tuesday, January 17th at 5:30 p.m.  If you are available at any time on January 17 and 18, please come down to City Hall in Council Chambers to support our city.

For more information about the City budget:

Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly Day School, Saturday, November 12th

 What are some of the forces that are driving the current crisis? How is it pushing forward the agenda of  business and governments to get working people and our organizations to tighten our belts and accept their calls for austerity? What forms is resistance taking around the world –what are the strengths and limitations of that resistance and what can we learn from it?

With the Ford administration’s plans to cut social services, dramatically increase privatization and attack the rights of municipal workers, what do we have to do to resist? How must we change the way we have been doing things in our communities and unions in order to prevent our isolation and loss of our livelihoods and key services?

Let’s collectively address these questions in an afternoon of information and critical discussion.

Day School Features:

  • Panel on the crisis with Sam Gindin, Stefan Kipfer and others;
  • Workshops on Community Action; Building Union Resistance and Challenging right-wing populist ideas and opinions;
  • Lunch
  • Panel and collective discussion about how we can strategize and resist coming attacks on worker rights and services with Mark Ferguson of CUPE Local 416; John Weatherup from CUPE 4400 and a speaker from Toronto Stop the Cuts.

Saturday, November 12, Ryerson Student Union, 63 Gould Street Toronto, 10:30 AM – 4:15 PM

Organized by the GTWA Public Sector Defence Campaign Committee.

Further Information: workingclassfightback@gmail.com


Ethno-racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario

Invites you to attend a community meeting to talk about the Social Assistance Review in Ontario on:

Monday August 22, 2011

1:00 – 4:00 P.M.

Ryerson University, 99 Gerrard St. East, Room EPH 222

AT THE COMMUNITY MEETING: You will learn about the commission the provincial government has set up to review all social assistance programs in Ontario. We will talk about the review and ask you to share your views on how these programs can be improved. The feedback you provide will be included in a report that will be sent to the commission. All identifying information will remain confidential. If you are an ODSP/OW receipt or a community member who is concerned about the future of these programs, we would like to hear from you!

WHO WE ARE: ERDCO is a small non-profit organization working to promote the rights and interests of ethno-racial people with disabilities. We work with other agencies in the community, sit on advisory committees, write briefs, organize events, undertake specific projects, etc. We receive funding from the City of Toronto and through Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

RSVP by August 19 to: coordinator [at] erdco [dot] ca 

Light refreshments, attendant care and TTC tokens will be provided

Following the interview I posted earlier this week, complaints have been made to the BBC. McIntyre has posted his thoughts on the interview to his blog, and says he finds the whole situation not that surprising. As for me, the whole situation has inspired me to keep tabs on how austerity measures are impacting people with disabilities, so look forward to more on that soon.