Limit High Interest Rates or Ban Payday Lending Outright
The Minister of Government and Consumer Services is conducting “a payday loan ‘cost of borrowing’ review."
Tom Cooper, Director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, prepared a submission for the Roundtable and also on behalf of Hamilton Community Legal Clinic & Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton. The submission calls for the government to:
- Limit the high rates of interest or ban payday lending outright.
- Protect borrowers with a Consumer Bill of Rights.
- Enable borrowers to repay loans over a longer period of time.
- Crack down on aggressive and misleading advertisements and end deceptive promotions that only serve to entrap potential borrowers.
An edited version of that submission follows.
The Honourable David Orazietti
c/o Consumer Policy and Liaison Branch
Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
A payday loan is a time-limited loan with quick approvals and often no credit checks. There are over 800 payday lenders licensed by the Government of Ontario. More than 35 of these establishments are within the City of Hamilton.
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton (SPRC), community members and local political leaders have becoming increasingly concerned about the proliferation of what we would consider to be ‘predatory’ lending institutions in our community and across Ontario.
Although in Ontario, payday lenders are regulated by the Payday Loan Act, many consumer advocates have argued that these provincial regulations do not go far enough to protect vulnerable borrowers.
Payday loans actually exceed the “criminal interest rate” —the maximum rate of interest allowed in Canada. Following changes to the Criminal Code in 2007, this criminal interest rate does not apply to payday loans in provinces like Ontario that have opted to allow this type of lending.
The result is a $21 interest cap on $100 borrowed (which may seem manageable over a two-week period) is annualized at an interest rate closer to 540 per cent. Customers often get trapped into a cycle of borrowing and repayments and spiral deeper and deeper into debt.
Payday Loan Industry
The payday loan industry utilizes predatory tactics and misleading advertisements to appeal to those in need of “quick cash.” Outlets are often located on the fringes of lower-income neighbourhoods where traditional financial institutions, such as banks, have vacated. SPRC reports that in the last two decades, one inner city Hamilton Ward had a reduction of bank branches from nine to two. It is perhaps telling that that the Ward also has one of the City’s highest poverty rates.
Payday lenders are taking advantage of those with nowhere else to turn. The working poor are the main clients of payday loan outlets and most are underserved by traditional financial institutions.
Predatory lenders excel at using slick marketing campaigns to lure customers through the door and keep them coming back. In fact, the business model of the payday loan industry is predicated on customers returning time after time to take out more loans to cover the costs of paying off the previous one.
A study commissioned by the payday loan industry explained that high operating costs mean they can only be profitable if they turn the vast majority of customers into repeat borrowers. On average, payday lenders provide 15 repeat or rollover loans for each first-time loan they provide.
A former CEO of a payday lending company said this:
“The theory in the business is you’ve got to get that customer in, work to turn him into a repetitive customer, long-term customer, because that’s really where the profit is.”
Posters displayed in outlet windows, on billboards or on TV advertise happy, attractive payday loan customers able to borrow the money they want without a care in the world.
Just this past Christmas, a payday loan company called Cash 4 You set a new standard for this type of advertising: posters began appearing in Ontario guilting parents into borrowing money to buy presents such as talking dolls, videos games, mountain bikes, even a pony “because... their children deserve it.”
While the payday loan industry raked in their holiday profits, months later, parents feel the sting of that overwhelming holiday debt.
In December 2014, Money Mart, perhaps the largest of these predatory lenders, began advertising a "new service" during the holidays to buy back store gift cards — but only at 50 per cent of their value. After an uproar, Money Mart backed away from the shameful scheme. It is clear however that the industry is not willing to self-monitor, and will stoop to any level to take advantage of vulnerable clients.
Hamilton City Council Acts
In February 2016, Hamilton City Council voted unanimously to create a new licensing category for pay day loan outlets in an attempt to respond to the growing crisis of predatory lending.
In bringing forward the new licensing criteria, Hamilton’s Director of Licensing said it was in keeping with his department’s mandate to ‘protect the public’.
Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green (right), who put forward the motion at City Council, has called this type of lending a “form of economic violence”- a sentiment with which we strongly concur.
The new licensing has three requirements:
- Payday loan outlets must pay a licensing fee of $750.
- Actual annualized interest rates must be posted.
- Staff at payday loan outlets must provide city-sanctioned information on credit counselling.
It is time for the provincial government to follow the lead of Hamilton, and other provincial jurisdictions such as Quebec (and now Alberta) to end predatory lending. It’s time for bold action to protect the public.
We respectfully submit the following recommendations and changes to the Pay Day Loan Act:
Limit the high rates of interest or ban this type of lending outright.
The list of options presented in the Ministry’s brief to lower the rates of interest payday lenders charge does not go far enough! Even the lowest choice presented by the Ministry’s discussion paper: $15 on $100 borrowed would still leave borrowers struggling with repayments.
In an informal survey of Hamiltonians, a strong majority 95% stated they wanted these types of predatory lending institutions banned outright.
We believe the Government of Quebec has taken a balanced approach: limiting the annual interest rate for all lenders to 35% annually This approach has severely limited the growth of payday lending retail locations.
Protect borrowers with a Consumer Bill of Rights and enable borrowers to repay loans over a longer period of time
In a recent report by Hamilton’s Social Planning & Research Council, entitled “Money for nothing, debt for free” a recommendation to develop a “Payday Loan Consumer Bill of Rights” that is posted in all payday loan locations and websites was proposed. These rights should include information about all associated charges borrowers will pay. In addition:
- There would be information on the cost of payment plans compared to paying in full and taking out a new loan.
- An obligation for clerks to take a partial payment if offered.
- The return of preauthorized debits and post-dated cheques to the client upon receipt of a partial payment,
- The provision of a toll free number of the company’s compliance department
- Information on how to make a complaint to Consumer Protection Ontario.
Payday lenders use strong-arm tactics to coerce borrowers to repay loans immediately and then to take out another one to cover their basic needs. Research has indicated that many borrowers have felt intimidated by their interactions with payday loan companies.
A worker for two different payday loan companies in Hamilton recently published her experience of the exploitative and predatory business practices in the industry:
(The author remains anonymous to protect her privacy, but we have met her and verified her identity) The comments in the article from other workers further confirms the way workers are trained to ensure a borrower’s cycle of debt continues.
Crack down on aggressive and misleading advertisements and end deceptive promotions that only serve to entrap potential borrowers.
Advertising by payday lenders should be subjected to much tighter controls. The Province of Ontario has restricted cigarette and alcohol advertisements for good reason – they pose a public health risk. This same rationale should be applied to the predatory lending industry. Ontario needs cigarette warning type labels applied to payday loan outlets.
Posted May 29, 2016
Mental Health, African Canadians and the OPS
Nene Kwasi Kafele
The general health status of African Canadians is well known: lower life expectancy, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cancer and aggression. The rates of mental health related problems are higher amongst African Canadians than any other group across Canada, save for members of the Aboriginal community.
At root, issues of structural poverty, systemic racism as well as state and interpersonal violence create a toxic brew of problems which impact negatively on the health and mental health of African Canadians. Pervasive, systemic racism, exclusion and “othering” of African Canadians remain persistent features of Canadian life despite Canada’s international reputation for plurality and fairness, and despite much progress in different areas. As well, Anti-Black racism is a particular typology. Governments generally have failed to capture through disaggregated data, the pervasive and severe nature of racism specifically targeting African Canadians, preferring broader categories like “visible minorities” in areas like policing, education, the OPS, health and health care, housing, etc.
When addressing the crisis in mental health, context and balance are important. African Canadians have a long and rich history of struggle, resistance, mobilizing and organizing against oppression. Additionally, the history of African Canadians is one of remarkable accomplishment and high achievement across the full spectrum of Canadian life – arts and culture, science, business, sports, academia, etc. Despite persistent systemic and structural barriers and overt racial discrimination African Canadians continue to be the lightening rod for social and economic justice and have traditionally led the way in sparking social change across the board.
Mental Health Dimensions
There is a strong link between living in a racialized country and developing a mental illness. Racism is complex and has a multi-level impact, for example, on a cognitive level, interpersonal, ecological, institutional, macro-political and perception. Socially inflicted, prolonged trauma (vicarious trauma, burnout, compassion fatigue, the trauma of violence, racism and poverty), economic and social inequality, inadequate or inappropriate medical care and targeted marketing of commodities than can harm health: food, alcohol and drugs impact the health of the African Canadian community.
According to research some of the health outcomes for African Canadians include:
- Higher levels of anxiety, stress, chronic stress, and stress-related illnesses– e.g. high blood pressure, heart disease and nervous system problems
- Higher risk of depression and suicide
- Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, fear, mistrust, despair, alienation and loss of control
- Damaged self-esteem, higher risk of addiction and violence
Dimensions of stress and mental health problems in organizations
Workplaces operate on institutionalized cultural norms and acceptable behaviours as well as adherence to formal policies and guidelines. Often mental wellness is a taboo in the workplace with little appetite for robust attention and full engagement. There is also greater vulnerability to mental health problems for those most marginalised in the workplace
(e.g. women, members of racialized communities, those with disabilities, etc).
For African Canadians and other racialized groups Issues like workplace racism, including harassment and discrimination, poor support from managers, lack of upward mobility, exclusion, targeting, isolation, workload, etc., will likely have a negative impact on their mental wellness. There is strong research evidence showing that discriminatory experiences in the workplace have a significantly negative impact on both mental and physical health outcomes.
The stress that often accompanies these bad experiences is usually because of the racial micro aggressions taking place (every day persistent, pervasive and unaddressed acts of diminishment, questioning, undervaluing and outright racist assaults), the realization that this is unfair and unjust and the frustration of not being able to effectively address the situation. This can lead to elevated levels of stress and distress and often to mental and physical health challenges.
A Way Forward:
Members of the community can improve coping and management of workplace stress and mental health problems by building connection to African-derived cultural resources and spiritual or religious groundings, engaging strong support networks, focussing on physical health, contributing to community activities, sustaining strong relationships (family, friends, etc) and living with a sense of gratitude and abundance.
A focus on wellness that is grounded in natural, healthy lifestyle choices also can make a difference. On a clinical level, early intervention and talking therapies that are culturally appropriate and anti-racist in focus provide good opportunities for success.
As tax payers and employees African Canadians working within the OPS have a right to work in a safe, supportive, accessible and welcoming environment that is free from racism, toxicity, harassment and discrimination. A strong anti-racist mental OPS leadership commitment:
- Recognises that equity, social justice and anti-oppression work is an on-going action oriented practice
- Validates other people's experiences of oppression and its mental health impact and does not stay silent in the moments when discrimination occurs.
- Review existing related policies (Disability Support, Accommodation, Wellness, etc) – re integrating language and content to specifically address racism and discrimination and their impact on workplace wellness and mental health
- Develop an overarching Internal OPS mental health policy framework to drive change. This policy should clearly address racism. Ensure alignment with provincial strategy
- Integrate indicators in managers’ performance accountability measures that show specific leadership in addressing workplace wellness, including addressing discrimination as a barrier to workplace wellness
- Promote a culture shift to open discussion and engagement related to racism and mental health considerations in the workplace – posters, on-line educational material, on-going dialogue with experts
- Ensure that Employee Assistance Program (EAP) contracting out services have a strong anti-oppressive, anti-racist and culturally competent clinical capacity
Nene Kwasi Kafele is a former Manager in the OPS with the previous Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat. He was also Director of Health Equity at CAMH for 12 years. He is a long-time community organizer, and social justice/ equity advocate. Nene currently teaches at York University.
The Struggle of Chinese Restaurant Workers in Ontario
Recently a report was released by the Metro Toronto Chinese & South East Asian Legal Clinic documenting widespread workers’ rights violations faced by Chinese restaurant workers in Ontario.
A large percentage of workers in this sector don’t receive minimum wage. Few workers get paid for overtime. The conditions described in the report have persisted for many years.
The report contains 16 recommendations and can be found at
The Clinic has called for Labour Minister Kevin Flynn to implement these recommendations.
Our letter to Minister Flynn (pictured at right) appears below.
Please consider contacting Minister Flynn and ask him to Make Change and address this injustice.
The Honourable Kevin Flynn
Minister of Labour
Ontario Ministry of Labour
400 University Avenue, 14th Floor
Dear Hon. Minister:
Re: Sweet & Sour: The Struggle of Chinese Restaurant-Workers
We are writing regarding a recently released study by the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (MTCSALC) which examines the working conditions of 184 Chinese restaurant-workers in Ontario.
The report suggests that there are persistent and widespread workers’ rights violations in the restaurant industry under the Employment Standards Act and Occupation Health and Safety Act.
Among other things, the report findings show that 43% of the workers surveyed did not receive minimum wage. Of those who had worked overtime, only 11% had received overtime pay. The majority of the workers reported not receiving vacation pay and public holiday pay. Many also reported other workplace issues such as verbal abuse by employers, unsafe working conditions leading to workplace injuries, and interference by employer in the workers’ pursuit of WSIB claims and other legal entitlements.
More troublingly, the report documents the failure of the legal system to protect these vulnerable workers. While the vast majority surveyed had experienced employment standards rights violated, only about 20% of workers surveyed had filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labour, and of those who have gone through the claim process, less than 10% had recovered their owed wages.
The report contains 16 recommendations from MTCSALC, in addition to a number of recommendations made by the workers themselves. The report also refers to the 68 recommendations contained in a similar report that was completed almost 30 years ago concerning Chinese restaurant workers. Sadly, very little has changed over the last three decades.
While the MTCSALC report focused on Chinese restaurant-workers, we have no doubt that these workers’ experiences are reflective of the challenges facing all vulnerable workers in Ontario.
We therefore call on the Ministry of Labour to implement the recommendations contained in this report. We urge the Government of Ontario to work with community organizations and workers’ rights advocacy groups to strengthen the legal systems to protect all workers in this province.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this pressing injustice.
Hugh A. Tye, J.D.
Posted May 2, 2016
Get on the Bus for Social Assistance Reform
This Thursday April 14th Paul Miller, Hamilton East MPP, will present a private member's bill in the Ontario Legislature that calls for the creation of a social assistance rates commission
As you know, the current provincial social assistance rates are arbitrary numbers that are not based on any analysis of the actual cost of rent, food and other basic necessities.
Miller’s bill is not new, but it's a good idea. Each year this Social Assistance Commission would recommend evidence-based social assistance rates to the provincial government. Those recommendations would be based on an analysis of the actual costs of rent, food and other basic necessities across the province. The Commission would be required to set different rates for different regions based on an analysis of the costs in those regions.
A busload of people from Hamilton is heading to Queen’s Park this Thursday to support this important piece of legislation.
Support this idea by getting on the bus.
The bus leaves at 11:00 am from parking lot behind 100 Main Street East (Landmark Place).
Find out more and Help Make Change at
Posted April 12, 2016
Posted March 24, 2016
Canada and Ontario are not Meeting their Obligations to our Community’s Most Vulnerable
Ten years ago, Craig Foye a lawyer with Hamilton Community Legal Clinic presented to the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland on the growing levels of poverty in Hamilton Ontario and the failure of senior levels of government to provide an adequate standard of living for those experiencing poverty. That presentation started an important community and provincial conversation about the adequacy of social assistance rates.
The UN's Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), is a body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that includes the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living. Canada has signed the Covenant. The Committee will review Canada's compliance with the Covenant starting at the end of February.
“Unfortunately, this latest report shows the right to an adequate standard of living is not being acknowledged or protected by either the Provincial or Federal Governments” concludes Foye.
The last 10 years has not been kind for people experiencing poverty in Hamilton:
- Social assistance rates remain woefully inadequate while the number of persons in receipt of provincial disability benefits has increased almost 40%.
- The unemployment rate for the inner city was more than twice the provincial average.
- Higher rents are putting many tenants at risk of homelessness. Landlords filed 67,278 applications to evict at the Landlord and Tenant Board of Ontario in 2013-14. More than three quarters of these applications to evict the tenant were due unpaid rent.
- There has been an approximate 18% increase in users of the emergency food system - 41% of those are families with children.
This updated report authored by Foye in collaboration with Laura Cattari and Tom Cooper of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and Sara Mayo of the Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton is intended to assist the CESCR in assessing the degree to which Canada is conforming to its obligations under the Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights.
“I am proud to see Hamilton once again addressing the right to dignity through the realization of an adequate standard of living” said contributing author, Laura Cattari
We hope that you will read the report which you can find at
Once you have read the report and/or its executive summary we hope you will contact your MP, MPP and other decision makers and ask that they support these recommendations that are contained in that report.
- We recommend that the Government of Ontario establish an arms-length, permanent and publicly accountable body of experts to recommend evidence-based social assistance rates that will allow individuals and families to have an adequate standard of living and to live with dignity.
- We recommend that the Government of Canada add conditions to the Canada Health and Social Transfer requiring provinces to provide a level of social assistance that will allow individuals and families to have an adequate standard of living and to live with dignity.
- We recommend that the Government of Canada, in partnership with the provinces and municipalities, develop a national housing strategy and a national strategy for the reduction of homelessness that include measurable goals and timetables, consultation and collaboration with affected communities, complaints procedures, and transparent accountability mechanisms, in keeping with Covenant standards.
- We recommend that the eligibility requirements for Employment Insurance benefits be amended to accommodate the kind of work that exists today, specifically, part time and minimum wage positions. The current number of hours needed to be eligible for EI coverage ranges from 420 to 700 depending on where you live and what type of benefits are needed. The Government of Canada should lower this rate to a standard 360 hours across Canada making the program more accessible for part time workers.
- We recommend that the Employment Insurance program should take into account the number of years a person worked, not just the months before losing employment. In addition, weekly benefits should be no lower than two-thirds of the best twelve weeks of earnings. Qualifying for EI should be flexible for those who have been in the labour force for a longer time.
- We recommend that the minimum wage should be set to a ‘living wage’ that will allow all workers to earn a decent standard of living, and should be subject to evidence-based review periodically at arms-length to government, supported by significant and permanent research resources.
- We welcome the commitment of the Government of Canada to reinstate the mandatory long from census and encourage Statistics Canada to provide helpful disaggregated data regarding all vulnerable groups.
Posted on January 28, 2016
Support Social Assistance Rates that are Based on the Real Costs of Living
For many years, the Clinic has called for social assistance rates that are based on the real cost of living. (http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/blog/?post=Social+Assistance+Rates+Must+Reflect+Costs+of+Living&id=284)
As most readers will know these rates are arbitrarily set and bear no relation to what necessary items really cost. Increases in the rates, when they have occurred, have not kept up with inflation.
Our arguments and advocacy from others for this reasonable reform have not been successful to date.
Now the Ontario pre–Budget process provides an opportunity.
You can support this idea for change through a process that the Ontario government has set up. It is called Budget Talks. Budget Talks is an online pre-Budget consultation tool. You can share your ideas for the budget or support ideas of others by using this tool.
Susan Muma from Project Hope here in Hamilton has done an excellent job of summing up the need for evidence based social assistance rates.
Here is an excerpt from her submission
“Presently Social Assistance rates are set arbitrarily with no consideration of the real cost of living. It is, therefore, my suggestion that there be an arm's-length board in Ontario which is charged with looking at the real costs of shelter, nutritious food, and other necessities of life. This Board would then set Social Assistance rates for Ontario based on real costs of living.”
Go this link to support the idea https://talks.ontario.ca/idea/ontarios-social-assistance-review-and-setting-social-assistance-rates
It is fairly easy to do.
Posted January 18, 2016
Support Hamilton’s Trusteeship Programs
Hamilton’s three trusteeship programs can keep an enrolled individual from losing their home for an entire month.
Yet Hamilton is about to cut these programs.
Three agencies (the Good Shepherd, Salvation Army and Mission Services) operate such programs. They provide advice and directly manage the financial affairs of men and women on social assistance who have volunteered to participate in these programs. Many of those in the programs suffer from mental illness and addictions.
Funding for the programs runs out March 31st.
Next week (on January 18) the City’s Emergency and Community Services Committee meets to consider a recommendation from city staff to cut these programs. The Committee’s decision will be critical to many individuals in Hamilton.
A Homeless Strategy shouldn’t make more people homeless.
Find out how you can help keep these programs at http://1drv.ms/1RJhKe5
(Posted January 12, 2016)
Resources for Social Change from
Community Food Centres Canada
Community Food Centres Canada has several resources available that address the need for social change.
- Field Notes for Social Change – a webinar lead by Raj Patel
- Food Sovereignty in Action - This report features the voices of community activists and champions of food justice.
- Transforming Emergency Food - a video of a moderated discussion on how organizations can move beyond providing short term emergency food solutions while staying rooted in community.
These resources and more are available at Community Food Centres Canada at http://cfccanada.ca/
Posted January 5, 2016
Fairness Means Paid Sick Days for All
Experts advise people to stay home if they are sick. This advice is especially important when it comes to infectious diseases like influenza.
Unfortunately, Ontario’s current employment laws do not protect workers when they fall ill. As a result, too many people have no other choice than to go to work sick, risking their and their co-workers’ health.
Did you know that businesses with fewer than 50 employees don’t need to provide any job-protected, unpaid personal emergency leave?
The Fight for $15 and Fairness Campaign says that means that 1.6 million Ontarians cannot rely on Ontario laws for protection against losing their jobs for taking a sick day without pay. Those in part time, temporary, casual and low paying positions are less likely to have any sick days. That is not fair.
This is a good time to tell the province that sick leave policies for workers must be changed. That is because the Ontario government is reviewing labour laws.
The Fight for $15 and Fairness Campaign has some ideas that would be good for health and wellbeing, for our healthcare system, and for workplaces:
They are calling on the province to amend the Employment Standards Act in three ways.
1. The Act should be changed so that all employees accrue a minimum of one (1) hour paid sick time for every 35 hours they work. For a full-time worker this would mean seven (7) paid sick days per year.
2. Exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees should end. All workers will then have access to unpaid, job-protected personal emergency leave.
3. Employers should be prohibited from requiring evidence such as medical notes to allow workers to have personal emergency leave or paid sick days.
Find out how you can Make Change.
- Watch a short video
- Learn more about the issues
- Sign a petition
Posted November 12, 2015
The Campaign for National Drug Coverage
Many people in Hamilton don`t have affordable prescription drug coverage. The Clinic believes that everyone should have access to the prescription medicines they need.
More and more people are calling for a national pharmacare strategy, including doctors, nurses, economists, as well as people in contract and service jobs who don’t have drug coverage. These calls reflect a growing problem that affects everyone in Canada: we are paying too much for prescription medication.
A national drug coverage plan which is public, affordable and safe, would mean that everyone in Canada would have access to the medicines they need.
We`d all be better off with a universal pharmacare program. That is why we support the Campaign for National Drug Coverage and hope you will too.
Learn more and lend your support to Make Change at http://campaign4nationaldrugcoverage.ca/who-we-are/supporters/
(Posted November 3, 2015)
Tell the Premier We Need Adequate Social Assistance Rates
For many years, the clinic has advocated fort social assistance rates that reflect the real cost of living.
We have submitted briefs to commissions, written letters to decision makers, composed blogs urging action and more.
In 2007, we worked with Ted McMeekin MPP, now Minister of Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and actually had legislation introduced into the Ontario Legislature that would set up a Social Assistance Rates Board.
Here is that legislation. http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/blog/?post=Imagining+Fair+Social+Assistance+Rates&id=285
Eight years have passed but we believe that creating such a Board is still a good idea.
We are not alone, of course, in calling for adequate social assistance rates.
Mike Balkwill, the Put Food in the Budget Provincial Organizer, visited communities in Northern Ontario this summer and has been reporting back on what he has learned and observed.
The situation in Northern Ontario is grim.
As a result, The Put Food in the Budget campaign has created a petition to Premier Kathleen Wynne urging that rates be raised “to a level that ensures a person has enough money for housing, hydro, food and the personal necessities that provide everyone with a life of health and dignity.”
Here is that letter. We’ve signed the signed the petition and hope you will too. http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51055/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17302
You can read Mike Balkwill’s reports here. http://putfoodinthebudget.ca/
(Posted August 12, 2015)
TENANTS GET TOGETHER
RALLY FOR AFFORDBLE, SAFE, LONG TERM HOUSING IN HAMILTON
Wednesday July 29
(John and Cannon)
Tenants living in Hamilton's downtown core are being displaced from their homes and communities as an influx of new development and investment continues to reduce the city's affordable housing stock.
Displacement affects tenants' health, access to education, and employment -- resources that tenants need to thrive.
WE NEED YOUR PARTNERSHIP!
Rally with us on Wed, July 29 at McLaren Park (John and Cannon), to call upon local, provincial, and federal governments to take action!
Now is the time to act! The location of our rally is across apartment buildings that are currently under major renovations and rent-increase processes that are pushing tenants out.
We are demanding:
- That the City of Hamilton immediately take measures to mitigate the negative impacts of gentrification. The city’s current planning and policy documents have failed to take into account the very real impacts of gentrification on low cost rental housing.
- That Ontario’s Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy (LTAHS), which is currently under review, include measures to protect affordable housing so that units like ours will not be lost.
- That the federal government develop a national housing strategy. The emphasis should be on maintaining and creating affordable rental housing that is safe, accessible and in a state of good repair.
We hope to see you on July 29th!
For more information, contact us at 905-527-4572.
Support Internet for All!
Join ACORN Canada low and moderate income members from coast to coast in the fight for Internet for All! It's time telecom giants stop gouging! The CRTC needs help to close the digital divide and ensure low income families have affordable high speed internet access. ACORN members need your help. By signing the peition I affirm that:
- Broadband access, like home telephone service, is now essential for every Canadian household, and the CRTC must address barriers of access including affordability. Everyone should have equal access to high speed internet, regardless of income, for important life activities like homework, looking for employment, and government forms. ·
- Canada lags behind many other countries with internet speeds. We need the Commission to mandate affordable access by all Canadians to actual download speeds of at least 25 Mbps by 2020. http://www.internetforall.ca/petition
Posted July 9, 2015
Witness Blanket Coming to Hamilton
The Witness Blanket is a large scale art installation, made up of more than 800 items reclaimed from Residential Schools, churches, government buildings, and traditional and cultural structures including Friendship Centres, band offices, treatment centres, and universities from across Canada.
Artist Carey Newman* found inspiration in the idea of a woven blanket. It has been put together to recognize the atrocities of the Indian Residential School era, honours the children, and symbolizes ongoing reconciliation.
This national monument is currently on tour across Canada. On the project’s website (http://witnessblanket.ca) the idea of “bearing witness” is discussed.
“To bear witness, or to show by your existence that something is true, is to pay tribute to all who have been directly affected by Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.”
You can do this through learning and active participation in the reconciliation process.
The Witness Blanket will be on display at Hamilton Central Library beginning Saturday July 11th until Sunday August 30th.
*A short video on the project with Carey Newman can be viewed at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/arts-video/video-artist-confronts-the-painful-legacy-of-residential-schools-in-witness-blanket/article14749585/#video1id23171094
Posted July 2, 2015
Take Action for Decent Work!
The Ontario government is reviewing Ontario's labour laws for the first time in a generation.
The Changing Workplaces Review (CWR) is holding public consultations starting in nine cities across the province through June, July and September.
A public consultation will be held in Hamilton on Thursday September 10, 2015. The location has not yet been announced.
Many organizations and individuals are fighting for decent work.
Now is the time for the government to hear from workers about what needs to change to bring fairness to our workplaces.
What can you do?
The Workers' Action Centre suggests that you:
- Email and tweet Minister Flynn: @OntMinLabour @MPPKevinFlynn. Tell him that it is #time4decentwork and #15andfairness in Ontario! Ask your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours to do the same.
- Book a meeting with your local MPP to share your experiences and your concerns, ask them to support the campaign, or ask that they organize a community forum on decent work.
- Start your own conversation in your community about what decent jobs would look like.
- Submit your story to the consultations. You can find information on how to do this by going to the Workers Action Centre website at http://www.workersactioncentre.org/updates/public-consultations-announced-for-labour-law-review/
Posted June 17, 2015
JOIN IN A RALLY AGAINST REFUGEE HEALTH CARE CUTS
In Front of the Regional Citizenship and Immigration Office
55 Bay Street North
on June 15, 2015
Hamilton – 1:00 pm
• The Federal Government continues to deny health care coverage to vulnerable refugee groups. Numerous national health care organizations artists, faith based groups and even provincial health ministers have publicly condemned the cuts.
• The Federal Court of Canada found the cuts to be a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and forced the government to rescind the cuts.
• In Nov 2014, the federal government introduced a new program that did not restore previous coverage to refugees and refugee claimants.
• The federal government is appealing the Federal Court decision to take away the coverage for pregnant women and children that they were forced to restore.??
For more information contact: email@example.com
Posted June 1, 2015
Help Prevent the Work-Related Benefit from Being Cut
Starting in October people on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) will lose the Work-Related Benefit.
This benefit provides $100 per month to each person in an ODSP family who has earnings from a job, a training program or self employment. This benefit began in 2006 to provide an incentive for people on ODSP to work and help with ongoing additional costs that come with working.
The ODSP Action Coalition and the Income Security Advocacy Centre have been working hard to prevent this benefit cut.
ISAC has prepared a background paper http://www.incomesecurity.org/ODSPEmploymentBenefitsarechangingin2015.htm#
The ODSP Action Coalition has put together a position paper which you can find at http://www.odspaction.ca/resource/odsp-recipients-who-work-lose-100-month
Please take time to Make Change by sending an electronic letter to your local MPP, Cabinet ministers and leaders of Opposition parties and ask them to save the Work-Related Benefit. It will take you about two minutes. Here is the link
(Posted May 12, 2015)
ODSP Changes Needed and You Can Help
The ODSP Action Coalition is a network of disability service providers, community agencies, community legal clinics and recipients of Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Their mandate is to advocate for improvements to the income and employment supports available to people with disabilities.
One issue the group is working on right now is fighting the changes being made to employment-related benefits provided through ODSP and OW. In last year’s budget the Ontario government announced it was eliminating the $100 Work-Related Benefit that people on ODSP currently receive if they are working.
How will this change impact you? The coalition wants to hear from people on ODSP who are working and who receive the Work-Related Benefit. They have designed a short survey which you can find here. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WPTQXHH
The information gathered in the survey will be used to lobby the government about the impact of making this cut and to explain why this is the wrong move.
The 2015 Ontario Budget is currently being prepared. The Coalition is working on making input in that area as well. The Coalition is calling for an immediate significant increase in ODSP income support and a reversal of the cut to the Work Related benefits that we mentioned above.
Support the Coalition and Make Change with your input into the budget. There is more information including a template letter you can send to the government committee responsible for the budget at http://www.odspaction.ca/resource/action-adequacy
(Originally posted in January 2015- reposted May 12, 2015)
Part-time & Temporary Workers Earn Lower Hourly Wages than Full-timers Doing the Same Jobs
Stop the Wage Gap!
Find out what you can do
Ontario is developing a low-wage economy.
A recent report documents that in 2014, 33 percent of workers had low wages compared to only 22 percent a decade earlier.
That report, Still Working on the Edge, brings workers’ experience, knowledge, and voice to this important public discussion on the future of work in Ontario.
The report was put together by the Workers Action Centre (WAC), a Toronto worker-based organization committed to improving the lives & working conditions of people in low-wage & unstable employment.
In response to the Ontario government’s Changing Workplace Review, the Centre has been meeting with members, workers in precarious jobs, and allies to identify key problems facing workers under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and develop recommendations for improving the ESA.
The provincial government consultation provides the opportunity to make changes the Employment Standards Act.
Take a look at this startling graphic.
The Employment Standards Act does not prevent employers from paying lower hourly wages to part-time and temporary workers. This acts as an incentive for employers to hire people on a part-time or temporary basis, instead of promoting full-time work. In January 2015, part-timers earned median wages that were only 51% of what full-timers earned, and temporary workers earned only 63%. That isn’t fair. All workers should get equal pay for equal work.
You can read an executive summary of the report at http://www.workersactioncentre.org/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2015/04/StillWorkingOnTheEdge-Exec-Summary-web.pdf and find out what you can do to Make Change.
Posted May 7, 2015
Campaign Against the 4 Year Limit on Migrant Workers
Starting next Wednesday (April 1, 2015), any migrant worker in a low-waged occupation who has had work permits for a total of 4 years will not be able to renew their work permit. That worker will have to wait another 4 years before being able to return to work in Canada.
This is called the ‘4 and 4 rule’.
This ‘4 and 4’ rule applies to workers in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (including workers in agriculture), the Live-In Caregiver Program, and the Caregiver stream. It does not apply to workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
Thousands will be forced to leave the county in what is being described as one of the largest deportations in Canadian history.
Find out more on this issue by going to http://www.migrantworkersalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MWAC-44-4.pdf
What can be done?
Advocates are asking:
- for an end to the 4 & 4 rule so migrant workers can continue to work here.
- for the granting of permanent residency for migrant workers in Canada.
- that migrant workers are ensured access to all social benefits and entitlements.
- that legislation to grant permanent residency for all migrants upon arrival be enacted.
You can help Make Change by signing a petition to the Federal government to ask for changes.
Here is that petition. https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-mass-deportation-of-thousands-of-immigrants-on-april-1st
You can also get involved in actions happening in the next few days around Ontario.
Here is a partial list of those events:
In Guelph on Saturday March 28, 9am, Guelph Farmers Market.
In Peterborough on Sunday