Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP): Ten Demands For Action On Poverty
1. Toronto City Council must immediately refuse to implement the Provincial Social Assistance Memo on the Special Diet that has allowed for staff at Ontario Works offices (City of Toronto workers) to deny people access to the vital benefit. Under this provincial directive, the rates of people accessing the Special Diet Allowance will be dramatically reduced. Essentially - this directive is being as a provincial cut to welfare rates.
2. Freeze the Police budget, eliminate Community Action Policing and put the freed up resources into meeting the real needs of communities. Mayor-elect Ford has already promised to hire 100 more officers. Every year, their budget demands go up, and every year, the City gives them what they want. The violent crime rate has been declining for years. In an economic crisis, where more people are without jobs and housing, City money needs to go to housing and social services and not police.
Housing as a Right not an Empty Promise
3. Ensure that enough social, supportive and accessible housing is built to eliminate the waiting list.
71,000 families and individuals are on a 13-year waiting list in Toronto for social housing. Those thousands of people are spending almost all their income on trying to get some form of housing, going hungry, struggling to survive on market rents that are ridiculously unaffordable and living in rotten conditions while they wait.
On top of this, an estimated 10 000 people in this city are homeless. Thousands of homeless people pack into shelters every night because no supportive housing is open. Accessible housing is needed dearly for those with disabilities.
4. Inject money into shelters immediately, including shelters for abused women and children. End all seasonal closing of shelter space. Bring the spaces up to decent, liveable standards.
The solution to homelessness lies in proving housing as a right and not in putting people into shelters. However, this must not become a cover for cynical politicians who cram people into overcrowded shelters or leave them on the street while making empty promises about providing housing. Until the right to housing is won, shelters must provide enough beds and the inhuman conditions that presently exist in them must be changed. Abused women and children presently have to wait for months to get into a shelter. No waiting list for people at risk is acceptable. The practice of closing beds in the Spring that forces people out onto the streets to face police harassment has to be stopped. The right to safety and dignity must be respected with no delay.
5. Repeal all municipal by-laws that are used for 'social cleansing' of neighbourhoods and the persecution of homeless people, such as 'camp in park without a permit'.
Homeless people, especially in the downtown core, face a relentless drive to push them out. Low income housing stock is blocked or destroyed, hostels and drop-ins are closed or prevented from opening, and the police and private security companies commonly harass and terrorize those on the streets to move them out of tourist districts and downtown.
6. Freeze all condo development in neighbourhoods where low income housing stock is threatened with displacement.
An Anti-Condo By-Law would work like this: in any community in the city where the vacancy rate was less than 3% - as it is in all poor communities in Toronto - development of condos would be outlawed. Similar laws have been passed in many cities in Quebec and have helped to stop poor neighbourhoods from being overrun by expensive rental housing. In downtown neighbourhoods like Regent Park, we see condos being built everywhere on top of the destruction of social housing and re-location of poor residents. They cause rents to go up and bars, restaurants, and supermarkets to raise their prices. This is forcing poor people out of their neighbourhoods and into the periphery of the city, where there is less access to community centres and other services. An Anti-Condo By-Law could slow this process down and give us time to organize to stop the destruction of our neighbourhoods.
Community Needs and Access
7.Affordable, Quality Childcare
Subsidized daycare spots are being eliminated across the city. 17,000 Toronto children are currently waiting for childcare subsidies and many non-subsidy parents line up for years to secure a full-fee spot for their children. An infant space costs on average $70 dollars a day without subsidy and this fee will only continue to rise given the instability of the current daycare system. Instead of responding to a crisis in quality, affordable and accessible childcare by investing in the creation of spaces to meet the needs of low income families, daycares are being closed and parents are being told to fend for themselves and to find alternatives. There are no alternatives. Low income families and communities need equitable access to public subsidized spaces that meet their children's needs.
9. No Fare is Fair: Towards a Free and Accessible TTC. Last year the Toronto City Council voted to raise transit fares to $3.00. For poor and working people in this city transit costs were already too high and often unaffordable even before the fare hike. The TTC deficit should not be loaded on the backs of poor and working people in this city who rely on transit as a necessity. Public transit in this city should be federally funded and affordable and accessible to all! Transit systems in other cities get more government funding to cover their costs. Free public transit will help create the healthier, cleaner and better connected neighbourhoods that we all want. It will strengthen public ownership and create more, decent paying, unionized jobs. It will open up freedom of movement in this city for thousands of people who, currently, simply cannot afford the fares or are in isolated and poorly serviced neighborhoods.
SIGN ON TO TEN DEMANDS FOR MUNICIPAL ACTION ON POVERTY
The City of Toronto government is currently contemplating its budget options, with powerful forces weighing in on where the money should best be spent. The poor and working people of this City must silence the usual chorus of business and police interests, starting now and ending only when we get what has long been so badly needed to make our lives decent.Therefore, we have begun to band together around clear and simple demands for action on poverty in Toronto. These demands cover basic issues poor people face in Toronto and focus on the measures that Ford and the municipal government he heads have the power and ability to act upon.
For some reason, there's only nine. If I get an updated version, I'll add it.