Talking About Social Justice: OCAP Speaking Series - September 15


3rd Thursday of every month
40 Oak St. (East of Parliament, South of Gerrard)

Free Event with: Dinner, Childcare, Wheelchair Access, Tokens

September 15th - Toronto's Poor: A Rebellious History
Speakers: Gaetan Heroux & Bryan Palmer

- How have Toronto's poor fought back?
- What have they historically fought for?
- What did they accomplish?

Join Gaetan Heroux & Bryan Palmer who will be talking about their book coming out this fall which documents more than 180 years of resistance by Toronto's poor and unemployed. Come and hear how Toronto's poor organized and used direct-action tactics such as relief strikes, occupations of relief offices, the taking over of empty buildings, and massive disruptions at city hall - to fight for higher relief rates, better living conditions in hostels, and affordable housing.

Audio from our August Speakers Series on Basic Income is now available, click here to listen!

Facebook Event Page here

Implementing Austerity By Downloading Responsibility

We wrote a piece contextualizing the struggle around the Housing Stabilization Fund and its connection to the broader program of Liberal austerity.

Rally in support of Laura Bardeau at City Hall.

Read it on The Bullet or Canadian Dimension.

We Forced The City To Release HSF Policies: Here They Are

Thanks to all those who came out to our emergency community meeting on Monday, July 18.

At the meeting we distributed the Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) adjudication policies we forced the City to release over the course of Laura Bardeau's fight for justice (which we won!). You can download the three HSF policies we received here:

HSF Adjudication Policy
Furniture Issuance Guidelines
HSF Eligibility Calculation

Victory for Laura Bardeau! But Fight for HSF Justice Still On

Laura Bardeau Speaking at the OCAP Mass Delegation to City Hall on June 15

We've just received word from Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) that they've capitulated to our demand and are now granting Laura the full $1500 she is entitled for, proving once again the power of collective action. This victory was two months in the making but together we made it happen!

However, a victory for Laura isn't yet a victory for all applicants to the critical Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF). Disclosure documents we received over the course of this fight demonstrate that the HSF adjudication policy systematically discriminates against disabled people and people with children. This must change because we shouldn't need a 2 month fight and a public campaign to win people their most basic entitlements.

Join us this Monday, July 18 at 5pm at our Community Meeting (details above) to celebrate Laura's victory and build a mobilization to win HSF justice for all!

Fight to Win!

Emergency Meeting: Fighting Housing Stabilization Fund Denial and Discrimination

Monday, July 18 |31 Wellesley Street East (OPSEU Membership Centre)|5pm

Meal Provided. Childcare Available. Wheelchair Accessible Space
Download the Info-Graphic

For the last two months OCAP has been fighting for the Bardeau family to get access to Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF). As part of this struggle, we have obtained the City’s secret HSF policies and found proof the City is discriminating against families and disabled people.

We are calling a community meeting on this issue to:

- Enable those who need access to the HSF, in order to obtain or retain housing, to get more information on how they can best access it.
- Talk to people who have been denied HSF about fighting their decision.
- Give an overview of HSF policy, its eligibility formula, and how it is discriminatory (we will have copies of the policies available).
- Plan out a campaign of action to defend and strengthen the HSF and raise social assistance rates.

Video from Action To Demand Justice for Laura Bardeau & All HSF Applicants

On Wednesday, June 15, a mass OCAP delegation visited Mayor John Tory and Councillor James Pasternak as we escalated the fight to get Laura Bardeau and her kids the Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) they are entitled to.

Justice for Laura Bardeau & Other HSF Applicants

The Fight Continues at City Hall | Bay and Queen | Wednesday, June 15 | 11.00 am #HSFJustice | Meet by giant Toronto sign in the square

On the 16th anniversary of OCAP’s powerful protests against austerity at Queen’s Park, help us deliver a clear and strong message to the City that we want justice for Laura Bardeau and everyone trying to get the Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF). There is money to pay Pan Am Games executives lavish bonuses but poor families are denied basic furniture.

On Wednesday, come help us force City officials to:

- Grant Laura Bardeau the maximum HSF amount

- Make the HSF policy public

- End discrimination against parents and disabled people

Update: Laura Bardeau Still Waiting on HSF, Councillor Pasternak Tries to Cover Up Inadequate and Discriminatory Policy

Thank you to everyone who responded to OCAP's call/write campaign yesterday to demand that the City release the Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) amount that Laura Bardeau, a single mum on ODSP, and her two disabled kids are entitled to. Within a day city politicians and bureaucrats, namely Mayor John Tory, Councillor James Pasternak, and Toronto Employment and Social Services General Manager, Patricia Walcott received many emails and phone calls demanding justice for Laura and her kids.

You have helped make this an issue they need to deal with, and we now need to make sure we use the momentum to ensure a victory for Laura and justice for all families applying for HSF.

Please take 5 Minutes on Monday June 6 to Help a Family Get Beds and Furniture!

Phone/Email/Tweet Action

Laura Bardeau and her two young sons all have disabilities and are living on social assistance. After a long struggle with bed bugs, they had to get rid of all of their furniture

While the City has a Housing Stabilization Fund to help people in this
exact situation buy furniture, they are refusing to help this family. The City says that Laura’s “combined ODSP and Child Tax income is in excess and precludes eligibility for HSF.” The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty can’t understand how a person whose sole sources of income are ODSP and Child Tax Benefit has income “in excess.” In excess of what? People on disability social assistance (ODSP) live well below the poverty line and frequently struggle to meet their basic needs including food and shelter.

Currently Laura is sleeping with one son on a mattress on the floor (where they also eat their meals) and the other son is sleeping on a separate mattress on the floor but the City won’t help.

Open Letter to Toronto City Council from Agencies and Workers Regarding the Shelter Crisis

Image description: Black and white photo of two signs. Both have a silhouette of a house on them and read SHELTER NOW

March 23, 2016

To the Members of Toronto City Council:

We are concerned agencies, organizations and individuals that work directly with people experiencing homelessness and who struggle to access safe and adequate shelter on a nightly basis. We are writing with regards to the city’s lack of response to the homelessness crisis and the dangerous, overcrowded and unacceptable state of the emergency shelters in the city.

Recently the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) released a report, entitled Out in the Cold: The Crisis in Toronto’s Shelter System, that details the experiences of over 100 service users in shelters and Out of the Cold programs. The report highlights concerns about unsafe conditions and difficulties with access. It also confirms that despite a promise made by city council to keep occupancy rates at 90%, shelters across all sectors continue to operate well above that each and every night.

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