AUSTERITY WEARS ITS ‘POVERTY REDUCTION’ MASK
OCAP members picket the Liberal poverty reduction consultation in 2013. In the foreground, a person holds a sign reading "Talk is Cheap - Yours is Worthless"
‘Poverty reduction’ is, of course, nothing new to any of us. The Provincial Liberals have kept this farce up for a truly astounding number of years, even as they imposed great levels of poverty, inequality and austerity on communities throughout the Province.
There is really no need to engage in any major examination of the City’s document for the simple reason that it is fluff. It lays out a ‘strategy’ that consists of pious hopes and meaningless statements of intent while,at the same time, carefully avoiding the very issues that could and should be addressed at the municipal level in order to challenge poverty. It proposes, for example, to work to ‘enhance investments in repairs to existing social housing’. The last federal and provincial budgets set aside not one penny for this purpose. What strategy is suggested to overcome this scandalous state of affairs? None at all because no one seriously expects this ‘goal’ to pursued.
Today we marched through the Downtown East End. We got to the Distillery District and were told it was closed. We made our way inside anyways to find hundreds of rich people hanging out, eating dinner and shopping. The police continue to protect the rich while poor people go hungry and die in the streets.
More updates to come.
We marched because we believe:
- all of us should have decent, affordable, accessible housing.
- the massive expenditure of public resources for the Pan Am Games when we are told that there is no money for housing, shelters or social assistance shows that governments can find resources if they want to.
- the targeted policing of poor people and communities of colour is wrong and that social cleansing and police brutality must end.
- if $3.8 million can be spent on lighting a bridge for the Pan Am Games, money can be found to replace the 124 beds lost by the closure of the Hope Shelter.
- sports provide fun and rewarding experiences for people of all ages and athletic resources should go to recreation programs rather than elite level competitions.
- if 10,000 people can be housed in the athlete’s village, more than 243 units can be turned into affordable housing after the Games.
- in social justice and fighting to win.
The Mayor’s Office in Toronto is today occupied by a much slicker operation than it was during the years of dysfunctional, bigoted buffoonery that unfolded under Rob Ford. Mayor John Tory has resumed the drive toward a fully fledged neoliberal city but has the basic political skills to frame his twin agendas of austerity and upscale redevelopment in the language of inclusiveness. He has been sufficiently proficient at this to rapidly create what Michael Laxer has termed an “austerity consensus” supported by the overwhelming majority of the Council, including its left wing.
The agenda of the developers with regard to the central part of Toronto is to complete the creation of an interwoven hive of business, commerce, upscale recreation and high end housing. Standing in the way of this are enduring pockets of housed poverty and a considerable and growing homeless population. Those without housing, very understandably, have tended to gravitate toward the centre of the city and, over many years, shelters and other services have developed in this area. This situation is resented by those working for upscale redevelopment and not only because visible destitution impacts property values and ‘quality of life’ for those with the money to pay for it. It is also the case that the shelters, drop-ins and service agencies that homeless people turn to are located in areas that the forces of gentrification are laying claim to.
As the Pan Am Games approach, the cops are watching. BUT SO ARE WE.
The Pan Am Games are coming to Toronto from July 10-26, and all levels of government have committed billions of dollars to ensure they go off without a hitch. Unfortunately for the people of the Downtown East End, we are considered the “hitches”, and the Toronto Police will be out in force to harrass, intimidate and arrest the people of this neighbourhood to make certain rich tourists and sports bureaucrats can have a pleasant Games experience, at the expense of our quality of life.
Rally & March Thurday July 16
5 PM St James Park
(King St east of Church St)
Accessibility Van to follow march
- Housing for All
- More Shelter Beds
- End Gentrification
- End Targeted & Racist Policing
On July 16, as the Games are underway, we will be marching to put forward the demands of communities impacted by poverty and a lack of decent, affordable housing. If there is money to spend on circuses, then the resources can be found to end the need for food banks, tackle the mounting problem of homelessness and ensure that everyone has decent, affordable and accessible housing.
In 2005, OCAP took up the fight to access the Special Diet for People on Ontario Works and ODSP. Our hunger clinics and actions to demand access to the benefit spread and huge numbers of people in poverty won additional income to protect their health and feed themselves and their families.
Despite all the efforts to limit the Special Diet, which have caused a great deal of hardship to many in Ontario, we suspected that access to the benefit had not been driven back to the point it was at in 2004. Now, figures we have obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, more than confirm this.
In 2004, average monthly Special Diet cases in Ontario numbered 44,774 with expenditure on the benefit for that year running at $57.6 million. The following year, as the OCAP initiated campaign got underway, monthly SD caseload rose to 75,628 and the expenditure went up to $128.5 milliion. The Liberal Government's efforts to crush these gains continued but, by 2010, monthly SD cases had risen to 140,733 and expenditure to $209.9 million. With all the brutal measures to restrict access that took effect in recent years, we might have assumed these gains would have been rolled back but the last complete year we have figures for, 2013, shows monthly cases at 148,258 and expenditure at $257.3 million. Only partial figures have been obtained for 2014 but average monthly cases comes in at 155,269.
This comic explains the invisible austerity program that the Liberals have implemented, attacking poor people in this province. It goes through social assistance rules cut by cut and shows how things have gotten worse under the Liberals. It shows how poor people have lost important benefits and how Kathleen Wynne has no right to call herself "The Social Justice Pemier"
Click here to read the comic
OFFICIAL RAISE THE RATES CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ON ODSP MEDICAL REVIEWS
The Medical Reviews for those on ODSP must be suspended!
The Raise the Rates campaign of community groups and unions calls on the Wynne Government to immediately suspend the implementation of medical reviews for people on ODSP. The accelerated review process is occurring at the worst possible time for people living in poverty and under conditions that have not been properly prepared.
UPDATE: OCAP Wins Fight for 24 Hour Women and Trans* Drop-In Spaces! All Charges Against November 25 Arrestees Withdrawn!Submitted by ocap on Mon, 03/16/2015 - 20:28.
Dear friends and allies,
Today we are happy to announce two important updates on the fight for 24 hour women and trans* drop-ins in Toronto:
1) Most importantly, we have WON 24 hour drop-ins in Toronto! Funds for the women & trans* drop-ins were passed during this year’s budget process. The 2015 Operating Budget for shelter, housing and support, as approved by City Council last week, includes new funding of $2,250,000 in 2015 for new 24 hour drop-in services for women and trans* people, increasing to $3,000,000 in 2016 and beyond. Spaces are confirmed and it is only a matter of weeks before we will see the drop-ins opened (more info on specific opening dates and locations to be sent out soon). We are proud of the work we have done and what we accomplished together with our allies during this collective struggle. We have drawn attention to the violence that street involved women face and the need for increased services for people who are homeless in Toronto. This is an important victory - services like these save lives.
2) This morning all charges were withdrawn against all 5 OCAP women who took part in the action on November 25th. In return the women agreed to provide 30 hours of community service.
News that the Salvation Army Hope Shelter, at McCaul and College, is set to close on April 15 constitutes a devastating blow. The shelter system is horribly overcrowded and all assurances that the City’s policy of keeping occupancy levels at no more than 90% will finally be adhered to have proven to be false. This particular shelter, located in the underserviced west end, is consistently operating at maximum capacity. Four homeless men died in January and the removal of 124 beds from the system simply can’t be allowed to happen.