Hundreds converged on the streets of downtown Toronto on Tuesday afternoon.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a city worker is struggling to survive working part time hours for seven to 10 years before being offered a permanent full-time job.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a disabled woman is worrying herself sick wondering how she'll survive when the government is only increasing her benefits by 1 per cent this year.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a sex-trade worker is trying to make a living every day without getting assaulted or murdered.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a young mother, trapped in an extremely abusive relationship, prays she won't be beaten or killed this evening.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a retiree is about to have his pension cut in half because of Canada's lax bankruptcy laws.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a homeless man will spend tonight sleeping in a park or over a subway grate because Canada doesn't have a national housing strategy, adequate social assistance rates, enough social housing or enough spaces in existing shelters.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a woman was a victim of wage theft today.
They came here because somewhere in Toronto a migrant farm worker was denied health care this afternoon even though his Canadian boss made him spray pesticides on the fields where he worked without wearing a respirator.
They came here today because somewhere in Toronto a single mother had to wake up at the crack of dawn this morning to get her children fed and dressed in time to catch a bus and a train in order to drop them off at a daycare miles from where they live.
They came here today because somewhere in Toronto a young man, treading dangerously close to homelessness, is being kept afloat by social service agencies, local food programs, libraries and local community centres in danger of being cut in next year's budget.
They came here today because somewhere in Toronto a middle-aged man is hiding from immigration authorities because his refugee claim was denied and he'll likely end up dead if he's deported back to his country of origin.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If we can find $114 billion to bail out the banks, we can restore social assistance rates for Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients, increase minimum wage and keep the the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) from rising to 67 from 65 instead.
If we can find $19 billion to build new prisons, we can find the money to finance a national housing program instead.
If we can find $30 billion for war ships, we can find the money for more homeless shelter beds, shelters for women fleeing abusive relationships and other essential city services instead.
If we can find $25 billion for F-35 fighter jets, we can find the money to fund a national transit strategy instead.
If we can lower corporate taxes, we can find the money to create a national daycare plan instead.
And we can do better than let big corporations use bankruptcy laws to deny pensions and benefits to their retirees.
We can do better than let companies get away with unpaid wages.
We can do better than deny migrant workers the right to unionize or access to CPP, EI and publicly funded health-care.
And we can amend the laws to ensure that sex workers can operate in a safe environment.
Protesters marched through the streets of Toronto to fight for what's right for Canadians. To fight for their children's future. To fight for justice and opportunity for all.
In doing so, they renewed their purpose and commitment to make Canada a more just society, affirming the value and dignity of every life.
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