Advocate for Protections for Vulnerable Ontarians

A Bill from Welland MPP Cindy Forster designed to protect vulnerable adults and seniors in Supportive Living Accommodations (SLAs) is stalled in the Ontario legislature.

cindy forster

Cindy Forster

Bill 135, the Protecting Vulnerable Persons in Supportive Living Accommodation Act, would put in place licensing rules for privately operated SLAs, as well as increased protections to prevent mistreatment of vulnerable high-risk adults and seniors living in this type of housing. Included among the safeguards proposed in Forster’s bill is a provision that would require housing providers to be provincially licensed in order to collect ODSP cheques and other types of support payments on a resident’s behalf.

SLAs provide low-rent accommodation to vulnerable tenants, and often provide additional care services. In many cases, SLAs serve as an effective response to affordable housing shortages across the province, catering to high-need adults who may not necessarily qualify for long-term care.

According to Ms. Forster though “the lack of regulation and oversight of these services have, in some cases, exposed tenants to substandard living conditions resulting in physical harm and, tragically, even death. In 2014, despite numerous charges and warnings from municipal fire officials, a 72-year-old man died after a SLA home caught fire in London, Ontario.”

In Hamilton, members of the Coalition of Residential Care Facilities Tenants have contacted their five area MPP’s asking them to support the bill.

The Coalition was pleased that Ted McMeekin MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and a member of the government supports the bill.

However, the Bill isn’t moving forward. It passed second reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on General Government but has yet to be debated. As the governing party, the Liberals determine whether the bill goes to Committee for debate.

According to Paul Miller MPP for Hamilton East – Stoney Creek the Liberals have “dragged their heels on this legislation.”

Miller says his colleagues will continue to pressure the Wynne Government to move this bill forward in the legislature so that it will become law. They would also support this bill be incorporated into a government sponsored bill.

Hamilton Windsor and St. Thomas have by-laws in place that set standards of care. But why shouldn’t all Ontario have such protections?

Neal Schoen, a Paralegal at Justice Niagara, reports that 45 municipalities across the province have passed motions to call on the province to create provincially enforced standards.

What You Can Do

Advocates are encouraged to reach out to their MPPS. They should also contact the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Eric Hoskins eric hoskinsat ehoskins.mpp@liberal.ola.org. to let him know that the Government should put Bill 135 on the committee agenda to move it forward.

 

 

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Concerns Voiced on Basic Income Pilot

(The following is a slightly revised version of a story that originally appeared at http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca)

The Basic Income Pilot Project is up and running in Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County and Thunder Bay.  It will soon start up in Lindsay. https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-basic-income-pilot

The anticipated four thousand participants who will be directly impacted by receiving a basic income is a drop in the bucket of the entire Ontario population.

So, those in the rest of Ontario can be forgiven if they aren’t paying attention right now.  But this three year pilot project could have major implications for social policy development in the province.  We all need to pay attention.

Yesterday, the province held a media event to update the public on how the program is going so far.   It is off to a slow start as you can see from this report from CBC http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/basic-income-cheques-going-to-400-households-as-project-gets-off-to-slow-start-1.4329212

What is more concerning though is that rules and regulations are not set in many areas.

One area that they haven’t figured out yet is the issue of recipients being subjected to garnishments.  They had no answers at the October 3rd media event.  (Here is the news release for the event https://news.ontario.ca/mcss/en/2017/10/ontario-basic-income-pilot-helping-provide-more-security-and-opportunity.html)

Questions to the Premier

Later in the day when pressed on it during question period Premier Wynne, had no answers either.

Hamilton MPP Paul Miller wanted the Premier to commit to resolving the garnishment issue.  Miller referenced a position taken by the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction (HRPR) earlier in the day.

The HRPR will not be making any further referrals to the basic income application sessions until they clarify whether basic income is subject to garnishment.

We’ve become concerned that unlike OW or ODSP, participants in the basic income pilot could have their incomes garnished from creditors.  This is particularly concerning for OW or ODSP recipients who may owe money to landlords, payday loan companies or other collection agencies, said Tom Cooper the Roundtable Director

tom cooper

Tom Cooper, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

Perhaps a bigger question posed by Miller was as a follow up.  What about the larger issue of social assistance reform, and why the province is stalling on Bill 6, An Act to amend the Ministry of Community and Social Services Act to establish the Social Assistance Research Commission?

No answer to that one either.

What these answers are to the day to day operations of the Basic Income Pilot matter a lot to potential participants.

And these answers will matter eventually matter to all of Ontario.  So will the bigger picture policy question MPP Miller posed about delays in establishing a much needed Social Assistance Research Commission.

You can read Miller’s questions and the Premier’s response below.

———————–

Mr. Paul Miller: My question is to the Premier. This morning, the Liberal government announced that only 400 people have so far signed up for its Basic Income Pilot Project in Thunder Bay, Brantford and Hamilton. New Democrats have  raised concerns that the amounts received are not adequate for the

Paul_Miller

Paul Miller, (MPP, Hamilton-Stoney Creek) has questions on the Basic Income Pilot.

participants and could keep them struggling in poverty if the basic income is subject to garnishments and debt collections.

Well, surprise, surprise: Now we’ve learned that anyone who signs up for the basic income project may be subject to garnishments and debt collections on that income. This is according to the coordinator of the Basic Income Pilot Project.

 This is unacceptable. Regular recipients of ODSP and OW are not subject to these additional garnishments and collections, but it seems those on basic income will be. It has even gotten so bad that poverty advocates in my hometown of Hamilton are warning people not to join the project.

 Many Ontarians struggle under household debt, but for people in poverty debt this can be a crushing, endless loop. Will the Premier confirm that basic income is subject to creditor liens on that income? Will she commit to making the necessary changes to ensure that this isn’t the case?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I appreciate the question from the member opposite. My understanding—I have asked about this, and the responses I’ve received from staff are that there are not many hundreds more but, in fact, thousands more people who are in the pipeline to be processed and to be part of the pilot.

Are there questions about the rules around the pilot? Are there adjustments that will likely have to be made?  Yes, Mr. Speaker. It is a pilot project. This has not been done for decades. It has been talked about for 30 or 35 years, but until now, until our Liberal government, no government has taken it upon themselves to actually put a pilot in place to find out whether this is something that can help people. We’re doing that, and we are working very hard with the researchers to get it right.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Paul Miller: Well, poverty is affecting people right now, Premier; however, it will be years before Ontario makes a final decision on whether to turn the pilot project into a broad policy.

This is the reality, Mr. Speaker: Poverty is affecting Ontarians now. And we have a solution. Bill 6, the Ministry of Community and Social Services Amendment Act, could actively help reduce poverty immediately. By creating a Social Assistance Research Commission, annual recommendations can be made to determine what the social assistance rates need to be in each region of this province. Moving Bill 6 forward will give the province the ability to experiment with this minimum-income project.

So my question is, Speaker, why has this government stalled Bill 6 in committee?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: As I said, the Basic Income Pilot is one part of a response to poverty reduction in Ontario. It’s an important pilot project, and we’re working very hard to get it right. The Minister of Community and Social Services is also engaged in reform of the social assistance program.

basic income announcement

Premier Wynne announcing Basic Income Pilot earlier this year in Hamilton.

But, on top of that, we recognize that people need support. So free tuition for over 200,000 students in this province, an increased minimum wage to $15 an hour, free medication for children from zero until their 25th birthday: Those are all supports that are being put in place to tackle poverty across the province.  There’s always more that we can do. The Basic Income Pilot is part of that.

Clansmothers to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources:   “Stop spraying the land.”

Clansmothers, grandmothers, and municipal townships  of Treaty 3 and 9 traditional territories are standing up against the aerial spraying of land which poisons the blueberries, bears, amphibians, bees, plants and people.aerial spraying

They have been doing this for 15 yrs in support of elders of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Elders Group Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation and any other groups speaking against the spraying, according to a Media Release.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry continues to spray an ‘herbicide’ that is an evolution of Agent Orange.  It is sprayed  from the air, over the land that has been clear-cut, in order to kill plants that would get in the way of the trees they will take for profit.

The Indigenous families of the Treaty 3 and 9  traditional territories have always picked blueberries, as a yearly tradition.   (Watch this video to find out more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3QQ67D_RgM&feature=youtu.be

“This is the natural food and this is what we do to sustain ourselves. This is how we live under the natural law,” says Darlene Necan while holding a pail of berries she has just picked.

Aerial spraying of the land is Chemical Warfare. Poisoning traditional food is an Act of Genocide, declares Darlene Necan.

What you can do?

You can support the Clansmothers. Call and demand all aerial herbicide spraying be immediately cancelled and no longer used as a forestry practice.

 Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources:                   1-800-667-1940

Ontario Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs:           1-888-466-2372

MPP Kathleen Wynne:                                                  416-325-1941

Phone calls earlier this season successfully stopped spraying in certain areas of Treaty 3 and 9.

Media contact: Darlene Necan 807-344-4439

Learn More

**Battling for blueberries

http://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/local/battling-for-blueberries/article_76abb29a-3664-11e5-a760-7f83062790bf.html

**Elders oppose spraying in Northern Ontario Forests

http://www.thesudburystar.com/2017/07/26/elders-oppose-spraying-in-northern-ontario-forests

**In Northern Ontario, herbicides have indigenous people treading carefully and taking action

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/in-northern-ontario-herbicides-have-indigenous-people-treading-carefully-and-takingaction/article33088274/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

Increasing Access to the Internet

How important is it to you to have easy access to the Internet?

Many of us take easy access for granted.  But research has shown that only 59% of Canada’s lowest income households have home internet access (CRTC, 2013).

For those who face the dilemma of whether to feed the kids or pay the rent, the additional consideration of paying for the internet is now added to this unsolvable equation.

What is happening in various other jurisdictions?internet-access-basic-human-right

The United Nations has declared that online freedom is a human right that must be protected.  Also, several countries have established internet access as a fundamental right in law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formally adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948.  It is the most universal human rights document in existence, delineating the thirty fundamental rights that form the basis for a democratic society.

Of course, the Internet wasn’t around in 1948 so access to it wouldn’t have been considered an issue in the immediate post war period.

What legal experts have to say

Today internet access is an issue of great debate. Experts have weighed in.  Earlier this year, researcher Charis Jung from Pro Bono Canada worked with staff from the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and looked at what legal experts have to say on the matter.

It is fair to say there is not a clear consensus.  For example,   Michael Karanicolas, Senior Legal Officer with the Halifax based Centre for Law and Democracy, argues that if one was denied access to the Internet that individual would effectively lose the ability to fully exercise their right to free expression.  That is fundamental right #19:  Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.  This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. https://digitalpublicsquare.com/2015/09/17/interview-with-michael-karanicolas/

On the other side, there are scholars like Brain Skepys.  Skepys argues that the Internet is not a form or expression but a means for forms of expression to be heard. In a paper in the Journal of Politics and Law, Skeyps presents five commonly made arguments for a human right to the Internet.  They all fail, he concludes. http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jpl/article/view/22541/14534

So, there is a real question as to whether it matters if access to the internet  is considered a basic human right.

In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has declared the internet an essential service. The CRTC says that the internet is “necessary to the quality of life.”  It is a “vital” and “basic telecommunications service” that all Canadians are entitled to receive.  The CRTC recommended putting significant resources into achieving these goals

Unfortunately, the federal government is ignoring the CRTC’s recommendations.

In the most recent budget the government allocated just $13.2 million over 5 years to support low-income Canadians’ access to broadband.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) says that amount is over 100 times lower than suggested by PIAC and other public interest groups in evidence presented last year to the CRTC.

 “The support given by the budget essentially amounted to the funding of a tool which would identify low-income households for the purpose of assisting with internet affordability. However, as there is no plan for affordability in place, this database does little to address the problem which keeps getting tossed back and forth like a hot potato, says PIAC in their summer newsletter. https://www.piac.ca/our-specialities/summer-newsletter-affordability-and-accountability/

Other Levels of Government

If the federal government is unwilling to act, what about other levels of government?  It is doubtful that provinces will help.  How about local governments?  What can they do?

Lethbridge, for example,  stands out as a community that has thought and acted on this issue.

This Alberta city of 98,000 people has embraced the opportunities and challenges created by information technologies.

They’ve recognized that some residents and businesses don’t have access to fast and reliable internet services.  Or they may reside in weak cellular coverage areas and in locations where publically available WiFi is desired but not available.

The city has set up a connectivity working group made up of nine different municipal departments.  The group works with various carriers Shaw, Telus, Rogers, and Bell to streamline processes to improve service and “develop a broadband and Wifi strategy for the city.”

Lethbridge believes that their community should be one where “everyone has the ability to access the internet regardless of age, race, gender, or socio-economic group.”

That is because, Lethbridge notes, “as more and more services evolve from paper to online processes, access to the internet provides everyone with equal availability to benefit from those opportunities.  It supports the idea that internet access is not a privilege of the wealthy but is a right for everyone.”

Lethbridge’s response seems like something all communities should aspire to.

What Can Be Done?

ACORN Canada, is a national organization with of low and moderate income families with over 102,000 members.  They focus on building power for change.  One issue they have been active in is the Digital Access to Opportunities campaign.  ACORN_Canada_logo_Button_NewThey presented at the CRTC hearings and were successful in making the CRTC acknowledge that access to the internet has become a necessity.  ACORN is running a petition campaign that you can find at http://www.internetforall.ca/

Of course, another approach would be for activists to lobby their local governments to copy what Lethbridge has done.

What do you think?


 A similar version of this story originally appeared at www.hamiltonjustice.ca

 

 

 

Join the I AM COMMITTED Campaign

“Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships.  There are no shortcuts.” …….Justice Murray Sinclair

The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic (HCLC)  has recently launched the I AM COMMITTED poster campaign.

The campaign was developed to initiate conversation and provoke thought on the Canadian Indian Residential School system and the intergenerational trauma caused by that system.  It follows an earlier campaign where nine unique posters and banners were created and installed in 73 highly visible bus stops across the City of Hamilton.

i am affected mmiw_1.jpg bus shelter

Poster in Hamilton Bus Shelter 2016

Those posters featured individuals affected by the Indian Residential School system.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission came up with 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.

 “This new campaign has been designed for friends and allies to make a public statement that they are committed to the Calls to Action,” says HCLC Executive Director Hugh Tye.

The I AM COMMITTED poster campaign acknowledges that reconciliation is a collaborative journey. It is a journey to be taken by both non-Indigenous and Indigenous people in this country.

Lyndon George, the Clinic’s Indigenous Justice Coordinator, came up with the idea of the posters.

“As Senator Murray Sinclair (Chair of the Commission) so eloquently stated this is not just an Indigenous problem  but it is a Canadian problem,” says George.

You can join the campaign by visiting www.iamcommitted.ca

The campaign comes with a website that invites you to join the growing list of people committed to Reconciliation.

I Am Committed English 2017-2_ #2

I AM COMMITTED Poster 2017

And you can take it one step further by spreading the word with your family, friends, neighbours, classmates, colleagues and acquaintances. You can encourage them to become committed through social media.

Tye and George were recently interviewed by host Terry Cooke on Hamilton Cable 14’s Vital Signs.  You can listen to the 15 minute interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXrLD5H-PrY&feature=youtu.be

The Changing Workplaces Review and Agricultural Workers

The recent announcement that the minimum wage will increase to $14 by January 2018, then $15 by January 2019 was an exciting one for workers and advocates.

The announcement follows the final report of The Changing Workplaces Review.

The report features excellent analysis and puts forward many vital and timely recommendations. Read it at https://www.ontario.ca/document/changing-workplaces-review-final-report/

Unfortunately, this new minimum wage will apply to almost all adult workers including caregivers but not farm workers.

Agricultural Workers

The Review looked at the Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA), 2002.  While most workers in Ontario are covered under the Labour Relations Act (LRA), the AEPA applies to most farm workers.  That is a problem for these workers and our province as a whole.  Here is why:

Just a Few of the Things Wrong with the AEPA According to the Changing Workplaces Reviewfarm workers

The Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA);

  1. doesn’t clearly state that employees have the right to join a trade union and participate in its lawful activities.
  2. doesn’t prohibit an employer or employers’ organization from participating in or contributing financial or other support to an employee association or trade union.
  3. doesn’t adequately protect employees against employer misconduct.
  1. contains no right to collective bargaining since there was no intention to create any right to collective bargaining when the bill was drafted.
  2. doesn’t require the employer to recognize the exclusive agency or bargaining authority of the union or employee association.
  3. neither prohibits nor provides a right for agricultural workers to strike nor provides for any alternate dispute resolution if discussions reach an impasse.
  4. makes no distinction between the family farm and agribusiness
  5. has no mandatory dispute resolution mechanism for enforcement of collective agreements so any negotiated collective agreement would be difficult if not impossible to enforce.

No collective agreements have been signed in the agricultural sector since this the legislation came into effect fifteen years ago. That is because the intent in passing the act was not to implement collective bargaining legislation.

Not surprisingly, then, The Changing Workplace Review concludes that the continued exclusion of agricultural workers from the Labour Relations Act is unjustified.

Migrant Workers

The Review had little to say on migrant Workers.  We and others have argued that migrant workers deserve the same rights as everyone else. https://opicco.org/2016/10/13/help-make-meaningful-changes-to-ensure-justice-and-dignity-for-migrant-workers/

There should be no special rules and exemptions by occupation.  In fact, Labour Minister Flynn has said that, “Fairness and decency must continue to be the defining values of our workplaces.”

The province avoids dealing with the fundamental issue of fairness. It hides behind jurisdictional matters as migrant workers are primarily covered by federal regulations.

Find out what you can do at about this injustice at http://caregiversactioncentre.org/breaking-news-we-just-won-a-15-minimum-wage/

Support Ontario’s Rental Fairness Act 

UPDATE:  WE’RE PLEASED TO REPORT THAT BILL 124 WAS PASSED ON MAY 18TH AFTER THIS STORY WAS WRITTEN.

After years of pressure from tenant advocates the Ontario government is finally taking important steps to protect the rights of tenants.  These actions could go a long way in tackling the affordable housing crisis in our province.  The Rental Fairness Act (Bill 124) addresses issues that are vital to ensuring tenants’ right to safe, adequate and affordable housing.

Right now, Bill 124 is being considered by the Standing Committee on General Government.

The Advocacy Centre for Tenants of Ontario (ACTO) a community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, told the Committee recently that there are good things in this proposed legislation that will be of benefit to tenants.acto

Four Reasons for Tenants to be Happy with Bill 124

  1. The 1991 exemption will be ended. That is the exemption that applied to properties occupied by tenants living in rental units that were first occupied for residential purposes after 1991.  These tenants will no longer be forced out by the landlord’s unlimited right to raise the rent at the end of each lease term.
  2. A new standard lease form will be introduced. The result will be that tenants will be protected from leases with illegal and misleading clauses.  As tenants know too well, these leases are routinely used by landlords to misinform tenants about their rights and obligations.
  3. Rules for evictions will be tightened up in the area of “landlord’s own use.”  These new rules are intended to discourage false claims of landlord’s own use.  They should end the punishment of good tenants who are often victims of no fault evictions & displacement from their communities.
  4. Above Guideline Rent Increases (AGIs) will be limited. This should keep housing affordable for more tenants.

Since tenants will pay for any increases in utility costs in the following year as they are included in the Consumer Price Index on which the annual guideline is based.

The legislation isn’t perfect. ACTO’s submission notes there is still work to be done, what they call “Missing Pieces.”  (You can read the submission at http://www.acto.ca/assets/files/ACTO-Deputation-to-General-Government-Committee-FINAL.pdf)

On balance, though, this is legislation that should be supported.

Not surprisingly, landlords and property developers, who like to portray themselves as tenant allies, are fighting back on some of these proposed changes.  It is important, then, that tenants, advocates and others speak out. The legislation needs to pass so that we can move toward a province where rental housing is fairer and more affordable for all Ontarians.

You are encouraged to remind the government to keep its promises to pass Bill 124.

Basic Income Pilot Project (OBIP)  – They Said it

Most readers will be aware that the   Ontario Government selected Hamilton (with Brantford and Brant County), Thunder Bay and Lindsay as the three municipalities for the provincial basic income pilot.  The announcement was made on April 24th. The pilot will run for three years and involve four thousand people selected in the three locations.

Details on the program can be found at https://news.ontario.ca/mcss/en/2017/04/ontarios-basic-income-pilot.html

Some Random Comments and Questions on OBIP

We have gathered some comments from around the province.  Feel free to add yours.

  • The project will explore the effectiveness of providing a basic income to people who are currently living on low incomes, whether they are working or not. People participating in our pilot communities will receive a minimum amount of income each year — a basic income, no matter what.  – Premier Kathleen Wynnebasic income announcement
  • This is going to help many people get a hand up and help them to get ahead and also the spinoffs of this project will be great across our area in terms of building the local economy. – Mike Perry Executive Director – City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team told CHEX TV.
  • So the first takeaway is that regardless of what happens in the next provincial election, all parties need to pledge allegiance to OBIP’s full three years. History tells us that the rigorous research and evaluation experts promised by the Wynne government had better be the best in their field for this will be key to a robust scientific outcome. The third-party research consortium that will evaluate the study has yet to be announced. – Jennifer Wells, columnist Toronto Star
  • We are certain a basic income pilot project will reinforce the need for income adequacy for all people in Ontario- especially for those on provincial social assistance programs who experience the deepest poverty in society – John Mills, a member of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and a basic-income proponent.
  • Can you assure us that in this one, it’s a three-year pilot, that the evaluation will be ongoing and in the event it proves what we all think it will prove, that an announcement will be made prior to the end of the three years of not only the continuation for those people who are part of the pilot, but as well as expansion? Iain Angus – Mayor of Thunder Bay asked premier Wynne as reported by the Thunder Bay Newswatch.
  • While news of the pilot project is positive, the Roundtable stresses the need for more information and a comprehensive consent process to ensure participants understand the ramifications of signing up for the pilot.  Nobody should be worse off by participating in the pilot. – Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction
  • So does that mean people living next door to each other, one person’s still only going to get $700 and their neighbour’s going to get $1400 a month? It seems profoundly unfair. Sally Colquhoun, Coordinator of Legal Services at Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic told the CBC.
  • For the people who are languishing on a single income for Ontario Works, can you please make a commitment to still do something more about those folks that this ‘basic income’ maybe won’t work for or they won’t get on? – Deirdre Pike asked the Premier at the announcement.
  • This is a parallel track. We have not forgotten that – Premier Wynne in response to Deirdre Pike’s question.

 

Hamilton Legal Clinic Shares Reconciliation Report – “An Historic Moment”

“This is an historic moment,” noted Constance McKnight, Executive Director of De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre, speaking at a community event at Hamilton City Hall last month.

‘For a mainstream organization to take this leadership and initiative is an important step in the spirit of reconciliation.”

Ms. McKnight was referring to a report from the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic called A Journey to ReconciliAction – Calls to Action Report.

The report contains sixteen recommendations. These recommendations address 14 Calls to Action that apply to the clinic’s work which are contained within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report released in 2015. It is available on the clinic’s website (www.hamiltonjustice.ca) as a Word document.

“In the spirit of Indigenous principles of sharing knowledge and wisdom we are passing on the report to our Community Partners and others in the community,” said Lyndon George Indigenous Justice Coordinator at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.

One organization accepting the report was the City of Hamilton. Shylo Elmayan (pictured shylo-elmayanbelow) is the new staff person facilitating the development of the city’s first Urban Indigenous Strategy.

Ms. Elmayan noted that while it is not common practice to share a report in this manner, this sharing helps all to understand that we have a lot to learn from the work of the TRC. (Here is a report from TVO on Hamilton’s strategy
http://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/shared-values/the-story-behind-hamiltons-new-urban-indigenous-strategy)

Other organizations and community groups will be able to use the report as they see fit and take responsibility for the Calls to Action that impacts them.

The 16 recommendations include a call to support Indigenous clients and staff of the clinic using their traditional names to identify themselves. Another recommendation states that the Clinic’s public legal education initiatives for Indigenous peoples must be culturally sensitive and safe. All the recommendations align themselves with the TRC Calls to Action and/or the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Clinic Executive Director Hugh Tye pointed to Recommendation #2 in the Clinic’s document as being of particular importance.

“Recommendation #2 calls for us to honour Indigenous laws, traditions, principles , customs and applications as an influential guide for the development/revision of our polices practices and procedures. We’ll be working towards that,” says Tye.fred and sandi #2

The Clinic already took a bold step when it closed its offices on June 21, 2016 to celebrate National Aboriginal Day (NAD).

“The decision by the Clinic’s Board to make NAD an annual holiday for staff is a reflection of the Clinic’s organizational values and demonstrates a commitment to ReconciliACTION,” says Board President Sandi Bell (pictured sharing report with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger).

“Raise the Rates” Minister Told

Provincial consultations on the proposed Basic Income Pilot Project are running during January across Ontario. Here is a report on the Thunder Bay consultation from Mike Balkwill of Put Food in the Budget.

————————————————————————–

put-food-in-the-budget

“I remember MP’s staying in the house 14 hours to pass their own raise – so they can get things done when they want to”  

This is how Eugene introduced the emergency resolution to raise the rates in Thunder Bay on Thursday night.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIEa6JVlF6c&feature=youtu.be

Eugene called for an immediate billion dollar investment to raise the rates. http://isarc.ca/home-eh/billion-or-bust-campaign/ Eugene’s point is if politicians can ‘raise the rates’ for themselves, then surely they can raise them for people living in poverty so deep they can’t put food in their budget.

People from labour unions, Indigenous people’s organizations, anti-poverty groups, injured workers groups and others demonstrated outside the Victoria Inn in Thunder Bay before the Basic Income consultation and then brought their demands into the meeting.

enough-is-enough

Three Ministers – Chris Ballard, Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro – heard repeated calls to raise the rates now!

Steve Mantis of Thunder Bay Injured Workers told Minister Ballard

“People right now don’t have enough money to pay rent and food. Let’s raise those rates for social assistance now to the level they’re proposing in their consultation and then we’ll see right away benefit for all the communityhttp://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/basic-income-idea-supported-guaranteed-pay-could-be-around-per/article_4094bcde-df27-11e6-93b5-8ba83007319e.html

The public demands in Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, on consecutive nights, clearly put Minister Chris Ballard on the defensive – and he finally admitted that more needed to be done to raise the rates.

In the last two months participants at ten community consultations have overwhelmingly endorsed the demand to raise the rates now!

There are only three consultations left – Ottawa, Windsor and London – and we expect the support to continue and to grow.

thunder-bayEndorse the resolution here

http://www.putfoodinthebudget.ca/?utm_campaign=_i_remember_mp&utm_medium=email&utm_source=putfoodinthebudget

Please share this link to the resolution in your networks.

Put Food in the Budget http://www.putfoodinthebudget.ca/