OCAP | Events
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.
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Vigil Outside the Peter Street Referral Centre

Thursday, November 7th, 2019 | 5:30 PM | East of Richmond & Spadina
Light Meal Provided | Facebook Event

Homeless People Die as Referral Centre Turns People Away
Vigil Outside The Peter Street Referral Centre
129 Peter Street |

Shelters and respite centres are failing to meet the needs of the homeless in the midst of the City’s worsening housing crisis. This summer shelter occupancy rates have exceeded the highs of last winter and even respite sites, which provide cots, chairs or mats on the floor for people to sleep on are at capacity. The Peter Street referral centre is intended to be a last resort for those in need of a shelter bed. On a nightly basis dozens of people are forced to spend the night in chairs and on the floor in the centre’s waiting area because there is nowhere to refer people to. When the waiting area is packed to capacity others who have travelled to the centre in hopes of securing safe shelter are being turned away and told to come back later.

On October 5th the body of Kevin Dickman was pulled out of the Don River. Despite repeated efforts and extensive support, he was unable to access shelter or a safe space to go. We do not know why Kevin was by the Don River. We do know that the shelters are full and for many who are homeless or in crisis there is nowhere to go and no hope for housing. The outcome of the shelter and housing crisis is tragic and deadly. Kevin is only one of many lives we are losing to homelessness.

The shelter system is already at a breaking point and as the winter approaches the need will only intensify. The abandonment of homeless people this winter will have deadly consequence.

On November 7th community members will gather at a vigil to remember lives lost to homelessness and demand that the City immediately:

-Open 2000 shelter beds to replace the inadequate accommodations provided in respite sites and meet the growing need for safe shelter

-Publicly call on the Provincial and Federal governments for urgent assistance to begin the immediate construction of social rent-geared-to-income housing

Join us.

Build Solidarity: Rally For Dundas & Sherbourne

Thursday, October 24 | 6pm-7:30pm | Dundas and Sherbourne
Meal Provided | Facebook Event

The downtown east belongs to all its residents. The healthcare and homeless services here serve a critical need for the area’s poor people and save lives. But some wealthier neighbours, organized through the local residents’ association, are agitating for their closure and are opposed to any new services opening. The resulting tensions are turning the neighbourhood, and Dundas and Sherbourne in particular, into a battleground.

Toronto’s deadly housing crisis and severe shelter shortage are responsible for escalating homelessness. Attacking the people suffering its worst consequences or the services they rely on doesn’t solve the issue. It only shows a vicious disregard for poor people’s lives.

We can build a vibrant neighbourhood by choosing solidarity over bigotry. United, we can fight to turn 214-230 Sherbourne into affordable rent-geared-to-income housing, build adequate shelters, and expand health services for all.

Join us for a rally to demonstrate that solidarity and build the fight for housing and shelter.

Resisting Revitalized Bigotry in the Downtown East

Thursday, October 17 | 6pm-8pm | CRC, 40 Oak Street
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access, and tokens]
Facebook Event

Toronto’s downtown east is changing rapidly. The historic Regent Park social housing is being reduced to rubble and the “mixed-income” imagination of politicians is coming alive. Towers with a combination of ownership condos and rental units for former social housing tenants have risen, with more on the way.

Mitchell Cohen, the president of Daniel’s Corporation, sold his company’s revitalization plan as one that would make “tenants and owners feel at home with each other and in their community.” But the residents of Daniel’s new building at Parliament and Dundas installed spikes on the large tree planters downstairs. Neighbours and passerby’s would sit around those planters to rest, drink coffee or have conversations. Now they can’t.

Not far away, Dundas and Sherbourne has turned into a battleground. Residents who control the Cabbagetown South Residents’ Association want to shut down a health centre and respite site that serve the homeless at that corner. They don’t want poor people in crisis in the area. The City responded with more police, the Province cut funding for the overdose prevention site, the health centre put up a fence, and the respite site cut its capacity. Not satisfied, the Association now collaborates with Toronto Sun’s Sue Ann Levy who writes articles denigrating poor people as dirty, drug-addicted and dangerous.

Area residents have two choices: we either build solidarity or escalate hostility. We invite all those who choose the former to join us to discuss how we can do so.

Speakers: Gaetan Heroux and A.J. Withers

Gaetan Heroux has worked in the downtown east for over three decades, a longtime organizer with OCAP, and co-author of Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History.

A.J. Withers is an longtime OCAP organizer and author of stillmyrevolution.org, and two books: Radical Disability Politics and Theory and A Violent History of Benevolence.

No Food For You: Ford’s Attack On Ontario’s Children

Thursday, September 26 | 6pm-8pm | CRC, 40 Oak Street
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access, and tokens]
Facebook Event

On November 1, Doug Ford’s government will eliminate food and clothing allowance for 32,000 of Ontario’s poorest children. The cut is a result of the cancellation of the Transition Child Benefit, which provides parents on social assistance up to $230 per month per child to take care of their kids. For a single parent with two kids on Ontario Works, the cut represents a loss of 30% of their already sub-poverty income.

Ford says he’s cutting the benefit because only people on social assistance get it. That’s like closing soup kitchens because only the poor use them. The cut is about scaling back Ontario’s social safety net and expanding the pool of workers in vulnerable situations who are forced to accept rock bottom wages and bad working conditions created by Ford’s corporate pals. It will also strip children seeking refuge in Canada of critical income support.

This government is prepared to subject Ontario’s poorest parents and children to hunger and destitution to further its goals. Ford’s viciousness will only escalate unless it met with serious opposition. Let’s build it, join us.

Speaker: Jackie Esmonde, Income Security Advocacy Centre

Jackie Esmonde is a staff lawyer at the Income Security Advocacy Centre, a member of OPSEU Local 5118, and a member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

Expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne: Outdoor Film Screening

Friday, Aug 23 | 8:30pm | 230 Sherbourne St.
Dinner Provided | Facebook Event

OCAP is fighting to stop the sale of 214-230 Sherbourne – a series of 7 vacant properties at the southwest corner of Dundas and Sherbourne – to condo developers. Instead, we’ve proposed a plan that would build between 150 to 260 units of public-owned rent-geared-to-income housing on that land. The fight won’t be easy, but we can take inspiration from battles of the past and present.

So join us for an outdoor summer movie screening, complete with dinner and popcorn, at the site as we feature short films that profile resistance that stopped evictions and forced the City to build public housing.

Note: The event will be postponed in case of rain.

No Freedom to Hate: Resisting Racism

Thursday, July 18 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event

The resurgence of the far-right has intensified existing racism in society. Violence and hate crimes against Jews and Muslims have been particularly notable in their brazenness. The perpetrators of this hatred draw inspiration from, and in turn form the enthusiastic base of, politicians like Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, Maxime Bernier and others.

Such politicians favour dog-whistles over explicit racism to signal their support for racist ideas while trying to remain acceptable to the broader public. The result is a bizarre reversal where the incitement of hate is justified as free speech and opposition to it is panned as intolerance.

Our best shot at defeating the escalating attacks on everything from our income, housing, to our very existence lies in unity. But in order to build it, we must understand how hate is being mobilized to grow division, recognize how it infiltrates our lives, and learn to challenge it effectively.

Speakers: Azeezah Kanji, Daniel Karasik and Cedar

Azeezah is a legal analyst and writer based in Toronto. She is also the director of programming at the Noor Cultural Centre.

Daniel is an organizer with IfNotNow Toronto, a writer, and co-facilitator of the new network Artists For Climate & Migrant Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty.

Cedar is a Hamilton-based activist who was recently arrested for speaking out about police complicity in enabling far-right violence.

This event is part of OCAP’s monthly Speakers Series. It’s where we discuss issues critical to the success of poor people’s movements.

A Development Proposal For 214-230 Sherbourne: Launch

Wednesday, July 3 | 9am | City Hall, Outside Committee Room 1 (2nd floor)
Toronto Star article
Press conference at 9am, deputations to Planning and Housing Committee at 9:30am

Following months of work, the collaboration between OCAP, the Open Architecture Collaborative Toronto (OACTo), and allied academics and activists has achieved its goal: creating a development proposal with the potential to radically transform Dundas and Sherbourne for the benefit of its most vulnerable residents, rather than at their expense.

Hand-scaled model of the development proposal.

Join us tomorrow to support the launch of the final report, to unveil the hand-scaled model of the proposed development, and to demand that council start by expropriating the properties.

The proposal lays out plans for building between 150 to over 260 units of publicly-owned rent-geared-to-income units to house poor and homeless people at 214-230 Sherbourne Street, a series of seven vacant properties steps from the southwest intersection of Dundas and Sherbourne. The final design for the site was informed by design feedback sessions organized in the Regent Park and the Dundas and Sherbourne area, with nearly 100 people offering feedback on four aspects of the development proposal: overall building form, ground floor programs, public space qualities, and domestic space qualities.

214-230 Sherbourne have been a historic part of Toronto’s poor and working class people living and dying at Dundas and Sherbourne. We will fight to make sure these properties will also be part of their future. Join us.

It Begins: Expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne

Thursday, June 13 | 1pm-3pm | 230 Sherbourne St.
Rally at Dundas & Sherbourne, followed by march to city hall.
Facebook Event | Lunch Provided

The housing crisis has a solution: the City must break ground to build new rent-geared-to-income housing. But it refuses to do so, even as people die homeless and properties lie vacant.

So join us for a ground breaking action at 214-230 Sherbourne, and then march with us to City Hall to reclaim the homes occupied by poor and working class people for generations.

214 – 230 Sherbourne are 7 adjacent properties located at the southwest corner of Dundas and Sherbourne. For 50 years, houses on this lot provided homes for poor people. 10 years ago, two of those houses were demolished, leaving just one 30-room house standing.

A decade later the lot remains empty and the house abandoned. The owners want to sell, but to private condo developers. That’s not housing poor people in the neighbourhood can afford. So the City must step in and take over those properties – expropriate them – and build social housing.

On June 13, we’ll start that process. 27 organizations have signed a letter calling on the city to expropriate. Join us.