Ottawa Living Wage Bylaw Clears Latest Hurdle

Over the past few months thousands of Canadians have taken action to support Ottawa ACORN members working to win Canada's first living wage bylaw.

These actions have taken different forms; some supporters have sent letters and emails to city council, others have made donations, and others still have braved cold weather to attend rallies and committee meetings.

Today this campaign cleared its latest hurdle when the Community Protective Services Committee of the City of Ottawa passed the draft Poverty Reduction Plan (including a Living Wage provision as a component of the plan).

Ottawa ACORN members have been taking to the streets and lobbying their local councilors in support of the bylaw and have plans to continue their efforts through the municipal election until it comes to a final vote.

Up next, the draft poverty reduction plan will be voted on by full council on February 10th.

2009 year in review

2009 saw ACORN Canada achieve important milestones in organizational growth as well as progress on key campaigns.   ACORN Canada continued to be a leading voice for working families across the country while solidifying its position the largest national community organizing network.

Nationally, ACORN Canada passed the 30,000 mark in membership this year – meaning 30,000 + low and moderate income families across the country have now joined the organization and committed to building a national organization to defend and advance their interests. 

Raising Wages – ACORN Canada is now the driving force behind 2 campaigns attempting to establish the first Living Wage Bylaw.  In New Westminster BC as well as in Ottawa members are organizing vibrant campaigns to raise wages for working families.  

Quality Housing – In Toronto, ACORN’s multi year campaign to win landlord licensing has yielded major victories in the past year.  The City, for the first time since amalgamating, is now deploying a proactive inspection program that is leading to increased apartment repairs across the city.

Early Living Wage Campaign Win

BC ACORN members are celebrating this week after a vote on New Westminster City Council in support of investigating a Living Wage Bylaw for the municipality.  The vote, held on Nov 30th at New Westminster City Hall, instructs City staff to investigate the costs, benefits and viability of a Living Wage Bylaw by February 2010. 

Led by Councilor Jamie McEvoy, New Westminster has joined the ranks of Canadian municipalities looking at enacting Living Wage Bylaws – and may be even the furthest along.  BC ACORN members along with allies plan on working with City staff to ensure the report they submit back to council appreciates the full benefit of a Living Wage Bylaw.

If New Westminster were to pass a Living Wage Bylaw, it would be the first Canadian municipality to do so after over 100 American municipalities.  ACORN members will be holding events over to coming months in support of the campaign and their vision of a fair and equitable BC for all.

CPJ: City of Ottawa Proposes Poverty Reduction Strategy

The same principle is behind both recommendations, in that they allow people on low income to still live in dignity. The committee explained that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) – a member of the Dignity for All campaign steering committee – has proposed a Living Wage Policy that would ensure that “any individual working full time would earn enough to meet their basic needs and be able to build some saving for the future.”

Full article:

Sun: Council Budget gets down to nitty grittty

Ottawa councillors will begin hearing from the public Monday before they begin their final debates on the 2010 budget.

A full week has been set aside for the deliberations. The city has scheduled two full days of public delegations, starting Monday with the chairs of various advisory committees. Other delegations listed Monday include Ottawa ACORN, Ottawa Taxpayers Advocacy Group, Ottawa Council of Women, John Howard Society of Ottawa and several other community associations.

The audit, budget and finance committee has recommended a tax increase of 3.9%. Mayor Larry O'Brien, who chairs the committee, has encouraged councillors to find cuts if they want to reinstate funding in any other area.

All eyes are focused on the transit budget. Councillors are faced with proposed route reductions and the deferral of other transit programs.

Centre Town News: Poverty reduction plan sent to City Council

On Thursday, the Community and Protective Services Committee approved Ottawa’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, an extensive report prepared by the Poverty Reduction Strategy Steering Committee.

This report recommends 16 initiatives that aim to reduce the poverty of Ottawa’s population. Among the recommendations are increased investments in social housing and increased diversity in the city’s workforce. Within the report, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Steering Committee also proposes to start an analysis of the options for a living wage policy at the City of Ottawa.

Especially this part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy seems to have the interest of Ottawa’s citizens. At Thursday’s committee meeting, several citizens showed up in the City Hall to support the idea of a living wage.

La Droit: La Ville d'Ottawa pigera dans son bas de laine pour réduire la pauvreté

Après des mois de consultations, la Ville d'Ottawa élabore sa toute première Stratégie de réduction de la pauvreté, mais elle devra piger dans son bas de laine pour la mettre en oeuvre.

Un comité municipal a adopté, hier, la stratégie qui compte 16 recommandations pour améliorer les conditions de vie des personnes moins bien nanties.

L'une d'elles explore l'idée que la Ville adopte une politique sur le « salaire minimum vital » pour les employés qui travaillent à contrat avec la municipalité. Ces derniers verraient ainsi le taux horaire de leur salaire passer à 13,25 $, plutôt que le salaire minimum ontarien qui se situe à 9,50 $.

Selon les données de la Ville, mettre en place cette politique coûterait environ 1,45 million $ annuellement. L'idée reçoit l'appui des membres d'ACORN, un regroupement contre la pauvreté. Ces derniers sont venus en grand nombre prendre la parole devant le comité.

Pour Elois Proulx, un membre d'ACORN, il s'agit d'une question de justice sociale. « En bas de 13,25 $ de l'heure, les gens doivent se sacrifier pour payer leur loyer, leur nourriture et ils n'ont pas d'argent pour les imprévus », fait-il valoir.

Citizen: Committee Approves Anti-Poverty Strategy

The city is also pushing forward with research on a "living wage" policy, which would increase the minimum pay for anyone doing city work, whether they're staffers or contractors, to around $13.50. The policy is backed by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

Everald Roberly, a cleaner and single father who's a member of ACORN, said he makes $9.75 an hour working full-time and is facing eviction from his apartment because he can't afford it.

"Here's living proof right here," he said.

Full article at:

Sun: City Committee Eyes Poverty Reduction Plan

The recommendations include expanding the application program for disability support, increasing access to recreation services for low-income families, investigating the possibility of a “living wage” policy, hiring more immigrants at the city and advocating for more provincial assistance.

Sixteen delegations signed up to address councillors at the meeting. Many people in the packed audience represented the community activist group ACORN, which is calling on the city to develop a living wage policy. The group says Ottawa’s living wage is $13.50 an hour and anyone doing contract work for the city should be paid that rate.

It’s the amount of pay that advocates say keeps workers out of poverty.

Full article at:


Sun: ACORN Calls for 'Living Wage'

A poverty advocacy group has added its voice to calls to raise the minimum wage for city workers to $13.50 an hour.

“We want the city to create a policy that ensures when the city awards contracts, that within that framework, they’re asking those contractors to pay the living wage for the region,” Ottawa ACORN member Nadia Willard said Thursday as the organization released a poverty report at City Hall.

Earlier this year, Bay Coun. Alex Cullen asked colleagues on the community and protective services committee to support the creation of a living wage policy. The committee referred the issue to the poverty reduction strategy group, which will present its report to the committee in January.

Full article:

Citizen: Living Wage Policy to be discussed in January

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which is pushing for a policy that would increase the minimum pay for a city worker to around $13.50, provided an update Thursday on its campaign. Nadia Willard, a member of the group's Ottawa chapter, said the city "should take a lead role in ensuring that our workers get paid appropriately."

If councillors approve the "living wage" idea, Ottawa would be the first municipality in Canada to have one.

Full article:

CBC: Boost Non-Union Wages

Poverty activists are calling on the city of Ottawa to increase wages for its non-unionized contract workers.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) released a study Thursday that says workers like janitors, groundskeepers and cleaners don't make enough money to pay their bills.

Nadia Willard, a retired nurse who works with the anti-poverty group, said she thinks the existing minimum wage of $9.50 an hour creates a dependency on publicly funded services like subsidized housing and food bank.

Full Article:

Sun: Wounded man won't tell police

The building is no stranger to trouble.

In June 2008, a 31-year-old man was shot in the buttocks during an argument on the ninth floor of the building.

And in 1992, the 14th floor was the scene of a knifing homicide that left postal worker Richard William Stevens, 43, dead.

"Tenants don't feel safe. There's no security," said Tatiana Jaunzems, field director for Toronto ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

"Many people are stuck there simply because they have no place to go."

Full Articles:

Living Wage Campaign Launch

BC ACORN along with allies from Labour and Community groups will be hosting a campaign launch for the New Westminster Living Wage Campaign.

The campaign aims to win a municipal bylaw in New Westminster that would require that a business receiving tax dollars to pay their employee’s a living wage. Living Wage bylaws are used in over 100 American jurisdictions and aim to end the practice of using tax payer dollars to subsidized poverty wages.

The Campaign launch is happening at New Westminster City Hall (511 Royal Avenue, New Westminster) October the 17th at Noon. We hope we can see you there.

There are currently several Canadian municipalities at different stages of evaluating Living Wage Bylaws for possible implementation. For more info on Living Wage Campaigns check out the Living Wage Resource Centre at:

Inclusive Housing in Ontario

ACORN Canada and other organizations across Ontario are working together with the aim of enacting municipal inclusive housing bylaws.

Inclusionary housing policies establish municipal housing programs that rely upon the development regulations and approval process to provide affordable housing in market housing projects.

The policies represent a fundamentally different way to provide affordable housing from the conventional social housing programs used to date in this country.  Over 200 American jurisdictions have adopted Inclusive Housing Policies.

All inclusionary programs in the US contain more or less the same main regulatory components, but typically vary in their regulatory detail. The following describes what might be called the basic or predominant model.

It merits noting that the programs establish fixed and non-negotiable regulations that apply universally to all eligible projects. There is only one notable exception to this: some programs – namely, the big city programs – allow for negotiating the cost offsets while continuing fixing all of the other aspects.

*some of this story are taken from a Wellesley Institute Backgrounder on Inclusive Housing.

Advocates Make Living Wage Pitch to Skeptical Business Reps

Advocates Make Living Wage Pitch to Skeptical Business Reps

More than 30 anti-poverty activists packed a city hall committee room Tuesday, arguing a proposal that would set a $13.25 minimum wage for city contractors would benefit affected businesses.

Representatives from the Ottawa branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, said a higher minimum wage would lead to lower employee turnover and training costs as well as increased productivity and morale.


Anti-Poverty Group Seeks Business Support for Living Wage Policy

Anti-Poverty Group Seeks Business Support for Living Wage Policy

The idea is being pushed by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which wants the minimum pay for a city worker to be $13.50 an hour and for the city to require the same of any company that gets city contracts.

They call this a living wage because, based on a 35-hour work week, this is what it would take to earn a yearly salary above the low-income cut-off for Ottawa as calculated by Statistics Canada.

Tenants Vote 2010

In the last 5 years we’ve petitioned, we’ve picketed, and we’ve organized.

But the next 16 months leading up the municipal election are going to decide whether Toronto City Council is interested in improving standards for tenants or simply letting the status quo remain.

Today, Toronto ACORN is announcing a plan to escalate this campaign.

In the coming months every City Councilor will have a chance to vote on an ACORN-backed proposal to levy a fee on large landlords to fund pro-active apartment inspections.

Toronto ACORN is pledging to use this vote as a yardstick to identify a number of key ridings to run aggressive campaigns to increase the tenant voter turnout by 25% in support of councilors or candidates who support tenants.

But we need our supporters online to send a message to council and let them know we’re serious. Can you help? (Just click the link below)

International Day of Action for Remittance Reform

ACORN Canada Members will be holding protests in 4 cities across Canada in a coordinated day of protest with allies in 7 other countries calling for reform of the global remittance system.

The major players in the Global Remittance market like MoneyGram, Western Union, Scotia Bank, HSBC and others charge excessively high rates that hurt immigrant families here in Canada and keep much needed resources out of the developing world.

Click here to sign the Remittance Reform Pledge to support the campaign and receive updates about the campaign.

Next Steps in Living Wage Campaign

We’ve passed the first hurdle towards a living wage bylaw in the City of Ottawa by winning the first vote directing City staff to investigate possible Living Wage options.

Now comes the hard part.

Over the coming months City staff will investigate different types of living wage bylaws before presenting proposals to Ottawa City Council for a vote. We need to make sure we have the votes necessary on Council to pass the most progressive of the options that staff will present.

ACORN Members are taking to the streets to lobby their councilors; can you send a quick message in support of their grassroots efforts?  Just Click Here to Take Action

Take Action to Win a Living Wage Bylaw

The first major vote by Ottawa City Council is happening at the Community and Protective Services Committee this coming Monday.

Winning this vote is essential to keeping the campaign on track.

To help build momentum to win this vote, and all the votes to follow we're launching a new website - - that will help keep the pressure up on Councilors to ensure they vote to support Living Wages.

Can you spend 3 minutes and send a message to the Councilors on the Community and Protective Services Committee and urge them to support the Living Wage related motion coming up for vote on June 1st? Just click here or follow the link below. >>

p.s we're going to be using to keep up the pressure as City Councilors vote at the various committees' so check back often!

Ottawa ACORN Launches Living Wage Campaign

ACORN Canada is launching a living wage campaign in Ottawa.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), 19.2%, or almost 1 in 5, Canadian workers earn less than $10 an hour.

While raising the minimum wage is essential to restoring the country’s wage floor, it is a solution that Canada’s provinces have failed to adequately deliver on.

In the meantime, we believe another model of wage campaign – the living wage – has the potential to result in momentum-building policy victories and provides a great opportunity to change the public debate about poverty in our country.

ACORN Canada 2.0

Welcome to the new

We’ve redevelop our website and online organizing infrastructure to help us better engage and connect with supporters like you.

We’re doing this because we want to build an online movement that can rival what’s happening online in other parts of the world. is an attempt to bring ordinary Canadian’s back into the political process - a way for busy but concerned Canadians to take action in a system dominated by big money and big business.

So let’s get started.

Take action on a campaign, register for an RSS feed, sign up for ‘action alerts’ or connect on facebook. There are going to be more exciting changes coming soon, so check back often.

That said, this site is still a work in progress, and bear with us as we work out the kinks.  If you find a dead link, something you think we should change or just want to offer feed back, drop us an email acorncanada (at)

Ontario Budget Response

Yesterday the Government of Ontario released their budget for the coming fiscal year.

The budget contains a number of tax changes, spending programs and direct payments to Ontarians, but ACORN would like to highlight investment in one particular area; Affordable Housing.

In the lead up to the federal budget ACORN, along with our allies, ran an energetic campaign urging the federal government to use their stimulus spending to build and repair Canada’s affordable housing stock.

While the federal government opted to provide rebates to consumers who re-pave their driveway or build a new deck at their cottage, it appears Queen’s Park got the message.

The budget is calling for the renovation of 50,000 existing social housing units and the construction of 45,000 new affordable housing units.

Two further points around this issue are also encouraging; first, the money provided has a two year life span, helping create a sense of urgency around affordable housing that had been lacking in recent years.  As well, Finance Minister Duncan told the CBC that in some cases municipalities may not be required to provide matching funds to access the money.

Ontario Payday Loan Rate Cap Gets Cabinet Approval

When ACORN began organizing around payday lending 5 years ago there were no rules, no licenses, and no rate caps; it was the wild west of lending.

On Friday the Government of Ontario announced that the cabinet has approved the new rate cap and that the provisions of The Payday Loan Act will be coming into effect over the coming months.

ACORN considers the key provisions of the legislation – banning rollover loans, licensing of lenders, 48 hour cooling off period – to be important victories, and an acknowledgement of the predatory practices that had become synonymous with the industry.