It's Expensive to be Poor: How Canadian Banks are Failing Low-Income Communities

In 2015 the six largest banks in Canada – TD, BMO, RBC, Scotia, CIBC and National Bank – generated $35 billion in profits, up from $29 billion in 2013. This perception of achievement, however, is misleading. Canadian banks are failing Canada’s low and moderate income residents. The banks’ focus on profits have led to service cuts, branch closures, and high fees, primarily impacting Canada’s low and moderate income earners.

Regulation of Payday Lending in Canada

ACORN Canada engaged me to determine an appropriate fee structure for payday lenders that would reduce the current very high rates while still allowing at least some of the companies to continue to operate. This fee structure should replace the current rule of 60% maximum interest contained in the Criminal Code, thus allowing mainstream financial institutions to compete in the short-term lending field legally.

Protecting Canadians’ Interest: Reining in the Payday Lending Industry

The payday lending industry is unique in Canada. In most of the country, this billion- dollar business is completely unregulated. And it makes money by openly breaking the law against criminal interest rates. While the Criminal Code clearly states that annual effective interest rates must not exceed 60%, payday lenders typically charge between 300% - 900% and, not infrequently, more than 1,000%. And yet, in spite of this flagrant violation of the law and the harm done to those who regularly borrow from Money Mart and its less well-known competitors,
virtually nothing is being done to crack down on this rapidly growing industry. It’s estimated that there are more than 1,200 payday lending “stores” across Canada. Some have more reprehensible lending and collection practices than others. But all of them share the same core business practice of breaking the law every single day.

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ACORN Canada’s submission to the Increasing Housing Supply in Ontario Consultation

As an organization of low and moderate income people, the issue of housing affordability is a priority concern for our members. Specifically, our members are concerned about the desperate need for deeply affordable rental housing that is affordable in the long term. Almost half of Ontario renters live in unaffordable housing. Yet since 1990, less than 9 per cent of new developments in the province have been rental housing. Urgent action is required to address this housing crisis, we call upon the provincial government to take leadership to create real affordable housing options.

Hamilton Tenants Demand A Better City from City Hall

Hamilton is in an affordable and livable housing crisis. This is a trend seen across most major Canadian cities, that will worsen with no government action. The City of Hamilton has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. If the city continues on its current path of protecting developers and landlords over working class communities, more and more tenants will lose affordable housing or be forced to remain in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

A State of Disrepair: Hamilton ACORN Tenant Survey

In the early days of Hamilton ACORN, our low-to-moderate income membership identified substandard living conditions as the number one issue they want addressed. Conditions in buildings were unhealthy and deteriorating, while at the
same time their rents would rise.
 
Over the course of the following year Hamilton ACORN started a petition drive to highlight the issue, held a successful Hamilton Tenant Rally in the summer of 2017, and has since held multiple actions against landlords.
 
Our leaders have pushed and secured meetings with the heads of Hamilton’s largest landlords. While we were able to walk away from these meetings with some tenant victories, it became clear to our members that a larger authority must be helping tenants to hold landlords accountable.
 

Submission to CMHC's National Consultation on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Housing

By introducing a National Housing Strategy (NHS) and making a commitment to a rights-based approach to housing, the Federal Government is taking a significant step towards tackling Canada’s housing crisis. ACORN members welcome this national plan. Yet, we acknowledge that there is a long way to go to overcome the systemic issues that have led to so many homeless and under-housed Canadians.

Affordable for Who? : Redefining Affordable Housing in Toronto

Staggering rental costs in Toronto make it difficult for low-income individuals and families to find housing that is adequate, suitable and affordable. Since 2011, the average market rent of a one-bedroom apartment has risen by almost one third. Low and moderate income people are being forced out of the city, or left with nowhere to go. ACORN feels strongly that municipal programs offering “affordable” housing miss the mark, as the definition of affordability used by the City does not meet the needs of Toronto tenants. 

"We need people to be able to afford to live in this city" : The Urgent Need for New Affordable Housing in Toronto

With the municipal election looming, Mayor Tory has suddenly realized that Toronto is in the midst of a housing crisis. Rents are skyrocketing while vacancy rates are plummeting. Many of our most vulnerable community members live in substandard and precarious housing, struggling to make ends meet in a city that is pricing them out. 

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