OCAP | Defeat Ford
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is a direct action anti-poverty organization that fights for more shelter beds, social housing, and a raise in social assistance rates.
poverty, homelessness, housing, social assistance, ontario works, odsp, anti-poverty. ocap. ontario coalition against poverty, shelters,
148
archive,category,category-defeat-ford,category-148,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-4.5,menu-animation-underline,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.5.2,vc_responsive

Townhall: Ford’s Attack on Social Assistance

Wednesday, December 5 | 6pm-8pm | St.Luke’s Church, 353 Sherbourne St.
Dinner Provided. Wheelchair Accessible Space
Facebook Event

The Ford government has announced its planned changes to social assistance. It is clear they intend to use social assistance as a weapon in their war on the poor. OCAP’s analysis of the announcement can be read here.

Join us to help make sense of the cuts being proposed, and to talk about how we’re going to fight back.

Response to Ford’s Social Assistance Reforms

Ford Government intensifies attack on Ontario’s poorest people

The social assistance reforms that the Ford Government announced today can well be described as the new Doug Ford Poor Laws. As expected, they’re making Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) significantly more restrictive and precarious.

The basic intention is to refine the system as a tool to push people into the lowest paying and most exploitative jobs on offer. It is entirely in line with the attack they have already carried on the minimum wage, workers’ rights, and job protections. Forcing people off social assistance while depressing working conditions in the midst of a housing crisis won’t move people out of poverty but will make the Progressive Conservative’s bankrolling base of business executives and owners even richer.

The reforms will divide people on social assistance into those deemed the most severely disabled and those who must join the scramble for jobs. The kind of “compassion” that severely disabled can expect from this Government is made clear from the fact that the social services Minister, Lisa McLeod, would offer no comment on whether any increases in social assistance rates can be expected over the next three years.

Those presently on ODSP will be grand-parented into the new system but new eligibility rules will use the more narrow federal definition of disability. Many who could get onto ODSP under the existing rules will be forced to try to live on OW, including having to look for work even when they are too unwell to do so.

All those who are deemed capable of working will be expected to comply with “individual action plans” and the Government’s “Open for Business” website will draw the most unscrupulous employers directly into the process. Local municipalities will be encouraged to compete with each other in the development of punitive and intrusive practices designed to hound people into scrambling for the worst jobs. The door is certainly open to the privatization of delivery and services.

The government also signalled that supplementary benefits accessed by people on social assistance will be moved from being mandatory to discretionary. These benefits will likely differ from municipality to municipality. So we’ll be left with a patchwork of benefits with no access to the Social Benefits Tribunal to appeal denials. Outright elimination of particular existing benefits remains a possibility.

People on OW will only be able to earn $300 monthly without claw backs, up from the current $200, but less than the $400 it was supposed to go up to this December. Earnings above $300 will be subject to a 75% claw back, which is worse than the current 50%. The earning exemption for ODSP changes to $6000 annually, but is again subject to the increased 75% claw back beyond that limit.

Over the next eighteen months the full viciousness of the Doug Ford Poor Laws will emerge but it is already clear that, for the Tories, social assistance is a weapon in their war on the poor.

Townhall on OW & ODSP Cuts

Wednesday, November 14 | 6pm-8pm | St.Luke’s Church (353 Sherbourne St.)
Dinner Provided. Wheelchair Accessible Space
Facebook Event

The Ford government is getting ready to announce a series of changes to social assistance. The announcement was originally due by November 8 but has been delayed to November 22. It is widely expected to introduce sweeping cuts to OW and ODSP.
 
Since coming to power, Doug Ford has already cut the rate increase to OW and ODSP in half and suspended a series of positive changes that were scheduled to come in this fall.
 
Join us to break the isolation and talk about how we’re going to fight back.

Stick It To Ford: Defend Our Communities

Saturday, November 17 | 1pm | Deco Labels & Tags (28 Greensboro Drive)
Lunch Provided. Register for Buses Here.
Facebook Event

On November 17, the Ford Conservatives will further their gruesome vision for Ontario at their party convention. Their government “for the (rich) people” has already attacked social assistance, job protections, minimum wage, healthcare, education, and environmental safeguards. They’re not finished. In two weeks, they’ll announce a series of sweeping cuts to Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program.

Ford’s vision for Ontario is a grim one for ordinary people: where we are paid less but must pay more for services; where business executives and owners get richer by forcing the rest of us to work with fewer job and unemployment protections; where the rich unite in their quest to exploit and pit the rest of us against each other in a struggle to survive.

On November 17, we will demonstrate that attempts to “open Ontario for business” on this basis will be blocked. To make sure Ford gets the message, we’ll start with an action at Ford’s own business: Deco Labels and Tags.

It’s time to defend our communities. Join us.

Gathering Forces: Fighting Austerity Beyond Elections

Thursday, October 18 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event | Download Flyer | Audio Archive

With the elections rigged in favour of the wealthy, the real power to successfully stop
cut backs rests with social movements. With dramatic cuts to social assistance, min wage, healthcare, transit, and more expected, it’s time to gather our forces.

So come hear from movements that are fighting to defend our people.

Speakers: John Clarke (OCAP), Anna Willats (RadTO & thecitywefightfor initiative), Em Carl (Toronto Overdose Prevention Society), Andrew Peters (No One Is Illegal-Toronto), Edgar Godoy (Ontario Health Coalition), and Anna Lermer (TTCRiders).

John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, a poor people’s direct-action organization fighting to win since 1990.
Anna Willats is member of RadTO, which just launched the visionary thecitywefightfor platform for the kind of city we must fight to build, regardless of who wins the municipal elections.
Em Carl is a member of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, which has been engaged in a gutsy and lifesaving fight to address the overdose crisis.
Andrew Peters is a member of No One Is Illegal-Toronto – an immigrant justice organization that is mobilizing to block attempts by white supremacists Steve Bannon and David Frum to speak in Toronto.
Egdar Godoy is the campaigns manager at the Ontario Health Coalition, which is organizing a province-wide mobilization at Queens Park next week.
 
Anna Lermer is with the TTCRiders – an organization fighting to expand access to transit and stop its privatization.

 

The monthly Speakers Series is where we gather to discuss issues that are critical to the success of poor people’s movements. It’s where we build our capacity to fight to win. 

Support the Fight for $15 and Fairness in Ontario this Saturday!

The Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign won a major victory in the fall of 2017 with the introduction of Bill 148: an immediate jump in minimum wage to $14/hr with a further increase to $15/hour scheduled in January 2019, paid sick days, equal pay for equal work provisions for contract and temp workers, and fairer scheduling rules, to name just a few gains. Taken together, these gains represent the most significant progress for low-wage workers in this province in decades.

However, the Ford Conservatives are set on repealing many of these gains, including blocking the raising of the minimum wage to $15. It is no coincidence that this attack on workers is progressing alongside the recently announced cuts to social assistance rates and the additional sweeping changes to OW and ODSP expected later this fall.

How better to roll out the red carpet for big business exploitation than to keep minimum wage workers and those on social assistance as poor and precarious as possible. Corporations and their executives make massive profits on the backs of poor workers – take for example Galen Weston Jr., the CEO of LoBlaws, who has a net worth of $8.82 billion. Unsurprisingly, he is also one of the people leading the charge against the minimum wage increase.

We need to be organizing with all we’ve got to defeat Ford’s cuts to welfare and workers’ rights. The Fight for $15 & Fairness is organizing a day of action this Saturday, September 15 with actions across Ontario, and we encourage everyone to join in. Details can be found on their website here.

Response to the Ford Governments Changes to Social Assistance

The Provincial Conservative government of Doug Ford announced three significant changes to social assistance today:

  1. They are cutting in half the 3% increase in social assistance rates scheduled to come into effect in September this year. Progressive changes to regulations scheduled to be implemented this fall have also been “paused,” and will likely be canceled.
  2. The 3 year basic income pilot program, which started last year, is now being canceled and “wound down.”
  3. A series of sweeping changes to social assistance are currently under review and will be announced within the next 100 days.

We have three things to say in response:

  1. The scheduled 3% increase passed by the Liberals was woefully inadequate, but it would have marked the second time in almost a quarter century that social assistance income would have risen above the rate of inflation. Instead, the 1.5% cut will yet again plunge social assistance below the rate of inflation, making social assistance recipients even poorer.
  2. We have been critical of the Basic Income pilot project, but canceling the pilot a year after it was underway demonstrates a reckless disregard for the lives of nearly 4000 people on the pilot who planned their lives on the assurance of having a set income for 3 years, and who must now scramble.
  3. The sweeping changes to social assistance that are being ominously hinted at are likely to be the same brand of ruthless right-wing reforms we saw under Mike Harris. We can expect dramatic restructuring of social assistance that cuts supports, forces those on social assistance, including disabled people, into the most exploitative jobs, and increases punitive surveillance and “fraud” crackdowns of the poorest people in this province.

Clearly, this is the war on the poor component of the Doug Ford agenda of neoliberal austerity. The Tories are forging a punishing regime of social abandonment that creates misery and utter desperation. It is the cutting edge of their attack and a compelling reason why we must unite and build a movement to defeat this Government and all it stands for.

Stop Vilification of Poor People Who Use Drugs

Toronto is in the midst of a housing crisis that expresses itself most sharply in massive and growing homelessness. As the shelters overflow, the disaster that this creates interacts with an overdose crisis that continues to claim lives. This disaster is now poised to get even worse at the hands of the Doug Ford Government, with its readiness to implement social cutbacks and its hostility to life saving safe injection initiatives.

Those in power and their media mouthpieces love to point the finger of blame at those who suffer the effects of austerity and abandonment. After letting the developers control and profit from the creation of upscale housing, after allowing public housing to crumble, after letting social assistance income decline substantially and after failing to provide adequate shelter for the homeless for years, refugees have become a convenient target to blame for the problem. Now, the same interests are targeting poor and homeless people who use drugs, in a truly despicable move.

Many in the media, with the Toronto Sun leading the pack, have been running lurid stories of homeowners and businesses under attack by what the Sun’s Sue-Ann Levy calls “druggies.” Another piece in the Sun went so far as to call for the death penalty for those who sell drugs and the main objective of these hateful articles is to try and shut down supervised injection services and overdose prevention sites. Levy argues that such facilities only encourage drug use and simply assumes, without any evidence, that the lack of safe options would cause people to give up drug use. In fact, the opposite is true – research in countries around the world has consistently shown that providing people who use drugs with compassionate, evidence-based healthcare like supervised injection services improves their health and helps people who want treatment to access it.

There is no real need to spend much time refuting the threadbare and ignorant arguments of people like Levy. We are really dealing with a hate campaign to whip up local vigilantes and encourage the intense criminalization of people who use drugs and the outright abandonment of the homeless. Supervised injection services only enable people in poverty to have some of the supports people who use drugs and have money enjoy, and they are desperately needed in midst of the present lethal crisis. In place of the class war crackdowns and denial of shelter and services the Sun is working for, and that Doug Ford and others in power want to deliver, we call for the following:

  1. Raise social assistance rates in Ontario so that people can afford to stay housed.
  2. Stop boarding up public housing and create real social housing to meet the need that exists.
  3. Open enough homeless shelter space so that the system is not running above 90% capacity.
  4. Open shelters mainly in the central area where they’re most needed with an emphasis on low barrier facilities.
  5. End the criminalization of people who use drugs and address the poisoned drug supply with evidence-based, harm reduction measures
  6. Legalize and regulate all drugs, rapidly develop prescription heroin and hydromorphone programs in Ontario.
  7. Extend the funding of current overdose prevention sites and expand access to SIS and OPS sites.
  8. Politicians must stop providing legitimacy to gentrifying residents and business interests organizing against homeless people and poor drug users
  9. Treat the kind of articles that have appeared in the Sun as incitement to hatred rather than journalism.

OCAP is calling for a press conference on Monday, July 23 at 10am at the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne to support the continued operation of supervised injection sites, to oppose the re-introduction of programs like TAVIS, and to demand the creation of adequate shelter and housing.