Economic Justice


This video made my morning.  Setting aside some CP solidarity bias, this guy is awesome.  The BBC clearly wanted to seek public support against the protests against this video, but McIntyre did not let that happen.  I wish I could shake your hand man.


Here in Canada, we experienced similar incidents during and after the G20 where many people with disabilities were mistreated and the hands of police, and though people did fight back, the issues did not recieve nearly this much public attention.  People with disabilities were allegidly abused by police, or police accused other protesters of being mislead into attending.  We do have a mainstream disability movement, but where were they to support the victims of violence and seek the solidarity of others during the G20? (crickets chirping)

I’m starting to believe that the mainstream disability movement in Canada is happy to play victim, or stand by as a silent bystander while individuals fight for their rights.  Occasionally you might see a letter or two, but it seems like people are really afraid to make disability issues into public issues.  That is a shameful slap in the face to our history.  I congratulate McIntyre for taking the step to connect his issue, which could have easily become isolated as a disability issue, into a call for broader struggle. I hope someday we can fight beside you.

News Release August 5, 2010

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is calling on the Federal Government to stop its attacks on Employment Equity.

“All fair minded Canadians object to recent insinuations that unmerited candidates from equity-seeking groups are taking over all the jobs of ‘qualified white candidates’, thanks to Federal Employment Equity measures”, says John Rae, 1st Vice President of AEBC, a nationwide organization of blind and partially sighted Canadians. “If this were true, statistics would tell us that whites are no longer being hired by the federal public service, but no one has had the gall to suggest this,” adds Rae.

The AEBC Board points to recent statements from two government cabinet ministers. “Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board, has insinuated that the Federal Employment Equity program is barring qualified Canadians from job opportunities in the federal public service. And Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, recently stated that all Canadians should have an ‘equal opportunity to work for their government based on merit, regardless of race or ethnicity’”, says V.P. Rae.

“Employment equity programs are designed to foster merit-based hiring by helping to remove barriers to employment,” states the AEBC Vice President. “They were put in place because all too often, qualified candidates from racialized and disability communities were not being hired because of race or ethnicity. Even today the representation rate for persons with disabilities remains far, far below our percentage of the population.”

The government’s own latest figures show that more women, First Nations peoples and visible minorities worked in the public service last year than the year before, while the low proportion of employed people with disabilities stayed the same.

As of March 2009, women made up 54.7 per cent of the federal workforce, First Nations peoples made up 4.5 per cent, visible minorities made up 9.8 per cent, and people with disabilities made up 5.9 per cent. Yet the percentage of people with disabilities in the population as a whole, is about 14%.

“Employment equity has helped, contrary to the Ministers’ assertions”, Rae continues, “but much more effort is needed to bring more persons with disabilities into the public service of Canada and other workplaces across the country”.

“Rather than attacking programs that have helped, we need a government that puts time and resources into developing new programs aimed at increasing our level of representation in the federal public service and in all other workplaces across Canada”.

For further information, contact:
John Rae, 1st Vice President, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians:

The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians is a nationwide organization of Canadians who are blind and partially sighted, whose work focuses on improving public attitudes and providing input on issues of public policy that affect our lives.

From Dignity for All: The Campaign for a poverty-free Canada

On Thursday, June 17, NDP MP Tony Martin tabled private member’s Bill C-545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada. Not only does this bill speak to a tremendous need in this country, it also reflects significant civil society consultation and multi-party collaboration. Congratulations to Mr. Martin, and thanks to MPs Mike Savage (Liberal) and Yves Lessard (Bloc) for their support of this legislative initiative.

Built on a strong human rights framework, the bill emphasizes income security, housing and social inclusion as core priorities. “The purpose of this Act is to impose on the federal government the obligation to eliminate poverty and promote social inclusion by establishing and implementing a strategy for poverty elimination in consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and Aboriginal governments and with civil society organizations.”

The introduction of Bill C-545 marks a significant step towards fulfilling the second goal of the Dignity Campaign (a federal poverty elimination act). The campaign and all of its supporters now have the summer to begin rallying public awareness of and support for the Bill, prior to its reading in the fall legislative session!

DfA support continues to grow. 350 groups and over 5500 individual Canadians have endorsed the campaign. Among these supporters are 57 MPs and 12 Senators, representing 17% of all Parliamentarians. Special thanks to Alderman Joe Ceci and the City of Calgary for leading the effort to secure the recent endorsement of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities!

For more information on DfA please follow this link:

From 25 in 5, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, and the ODSP Action Coalition

Dear Minister Matthews,

The decision the McGuinty government has taken to end the Special Diet Allowance for people on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program has been interpreted as a disturbing signal about the degree to which government is committed to the goals of poverty reduction and the importance of protecting the human rights of people with disabilities.

However, it also presents you with the opportunity to create a new program that will address the acknowledged shortcomings of the Special Diet Allowance program, while ensuring continuation of the important financial support it provides to people with documented health challenges.

In light of the government’s announcement that the Ministry of Health will be creating a replacement program for the Special Diet Allowance, we are writing to forward our proposal for Five Principles that should form the basis for this new program.

Read the entire letter.

Read the story in the Toronto Star about the Five Principles and what the loss of Special Diet could mean for many people currently on ODSP.

The ODSP Action Coalition presents:

Telling Our Stories:

Disability Should Not Equal Poverty

When: Wednesday, July 7th from 1pm-5pm *NEW DATE*

Where: Metro Hall Rotunda, 55 John St. Toronto

(Near University Avenue and King St. West)


Highlights: 2pm to 4pm –

  • Panel discussion on ODSP and human rights moderated by Carol Goar, Editorial Columnist – Toronto Star
  • Personal stories told by individuals on ODSP
  • Launch of the ODSP Action Coalition’s Disability Declaration
  • Photo exhibit by community activist Cheryl Duggan

Displays, information tables and networking throughout the event

Light Refreshments will be served. TTC tokens available for low-income people

For more information or to request attendant care services, ASL or Real Time Captioning, please contact Naomi Berlyne at 416 539-0690 ext 258.

Requests for special needs services must be made by June 28

The ODSP Action Coalition is a province-wide coalition of community disability agencies, provincial organizations, anti-poverty groups, legal clinics and people with disabilities on ODSP. The Coalition’s mission is to push for improvements to ODSP so that people with disabilities can live with justice and dignity.

Visit our website:

To most people of my generation, a full time, unionized job with benifits sounds like a pipe dream, let alone a job that will last us until we retire.  Most of us these days are in contract jobs or part-time positions that force us to keep focused on keeping  a job (or finding one) and less on what our rights are as workers.  For young people, particularly people with disabilities, there is an underlying notion that we should feel lucky to even have a job, and basically just suck it up and be a good employee if you want to keep it.

Where did the idea of good jobs go?  Is it just an idea?  There are still good jobs out there, but most of us do not have access.  The methods of governments over the last several decades have privatized public jobs traditionally held by youth, forcing youth to find explotive underpaying jobs.  This limits youth exposure to unions, and there access to information on worker’s rights.

In the case of youth with disabilities, those that do find jobs often do so through employment services that offer low wage, low skill jobs regardless of the person’s education.  The people working for the youth are likely making more than the positions they offer.  Profiting off the backs of young people with disabilities in a nice neat neoliberal view of employability that still maintains the oppression of people with disabilities by treating them like charity cases.

My point is, if we don’t pass down the knowledge of worker’s rights we will lose those rights.  With the older workforce coming into retirement, and a neww work force coming in with little knowledge of their rights or how they were attained, it is the perfect recipe for an exploted young workforce.

These rights were not given to us freely by the good hearts of employees and politicians, they were fought for.  Those coming into the workforce need to learn to fight for themselves, especially those most vulnerable.  Unions are not dead, striking still works, we need to be aware.  There are people profiting off the belief that good jobs for young people are impossible, we’ve been taught to think this way.

There is a particularly strong movement going on in Sudbury right now.  The Vale Inco strike has been called the tipping point that will make or break worker’s  rights in Canada,

A March and Rally is being held on Thursday, April 29th in support of those workers, and to support workers rights in Canada.

Join them at the Sheraton Centre Hotel on Queen Street at 1:15pm, they will be marching to Queens Park for the rally at 2:00 pm.

For more infomation on worker’s rights check out the Young Worker Awareness Program

For more information on the Vaale Inco Strike check out:

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this bill.  This is news to me, and shake the hand of MPP Barrett.  I am a little suspicious that this is a conservative voter grab, and it is a very neoliberal approach to access to work, that still views people with disabilities as burdens that businesses should be tax deducted for hiring, but it`s a step in right direction, possibly.

Since when have they had social justice reporters for the Toronto Star?  I want that job!!!

March 31, 2010

Laurie Monsebraaten

Ontario’s welfare rules condemn disabled people to lives of poverty by squeezing their assets, scooping their child support payments and discouraging them from working, says a Conservative MPP who introduced a private member’s bill Wednesday to address the problem.

Under the bill proposed by MPP Toby Barrett (Haldimand–Norfolk), about 230,000 people on Ontario’s disability support program (ODSP) would see their asset limits double to $12,000, while about 38,000 couples would be allowed to keep up to $20,000. Children could have assets of up to $500 each.

Single parents would no longer have child support payments deduced from their ODSP cheques.

Currently, anyone on welfare who gets a job has 50 cents on every dollar earned deducted from their cheques. But under Barrett’s proposed bill, a disabled person would be allowed to keep up to $700 a month in earnings or $1,000, if the person has a spouse.

To encourage employers to hire people on ODSP, non-refundable tax credits would be available based on up to $10,000 per person in wages paid. The tax credit would be available for a maximum of five employees per business and would amount to about $500 per employee, Barrett said.

“Most of us want to work and it’s a big disincentive if somebody takes half of what you earn away from you,” Barrett said in an interview. “By raising the asset limit, we’ll be helping them save more of what they earn.”

Private member’s bills rarely become law, but Barrett, a member of the Legislature’s sub-committee on finance and economic affairs, said compelling submissions from advocates for the disabled prompted him to act. His bill will be debated April 22.

Kyle Vose, a cancer survivor with HIV who is living on ODSP, welcomed the move.

“Normally one wouldn’t expect the Conservatives to be so open-minded on this. But they seem more liberal-minded than the Liberals these days,” he said, referring to last week’s budget which cancelled an allowance that helps people on ODSP pay extra food costs related to specific medical conditions.

“I just hope something comes of this,” Vose added.

Advocates for the disabled were also pleased. However, they had had hoped the changes would have been introduced by the government in last week’s budget. And they would like to see everyone on welfare benefit from the proposed changes and not just the disabled.

“We’ve been advocating for rule changes like these for many years,” said community legal worker Nancy Vander Plaats, co-chair of the ODSP Action Committee. “It’s good to see this coming before the Legislature.”

Barrett’s proposed changes to welfare assets and earnings rules are among a list of 13 interim measures suggested by the government’s social assistance advisory council. The council was set up by Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur last December to craft terms of reference for a promised review of Ontario’s welfare system, expected later this year.

But after last week’s budget, Meilleur said she could act only on welfare rules concerning gifts, shared accommodation, financial windfalls and suspensions. The council’s other proposed changes – including asset and earnings exemptions—would be too costly for a province facing a $21.3 billion deficit, she said.

As of February, more than 830,000 Ontarians relied on social assistance, including about 371,000 on ODSP and 460,000 Ontario Works.