580 CFRA: Ottawa ACORN Members Rally Outside McGuinty's Constituency Office

Members of the activist group ACORN [Canada] rallied against a freeze of ODSP and Ontario Works payments outside of Premier Dalton McGuinty's constituency office in Ottawa South on Friday.

The freeze was announced in Tuesday's provincial budget.

Michelle Walrond believes the document hurts people who are already struggling.

"We are not important to Dalton McGuinty," Walrond tells CFRA. "Basically, he's told us the modern day equivalent of 'Let them eat cake.' He's telling us, 'Tighten your belt,' assuming that everybody can afford a belt."

Warland adds she was further disappointed by the jobs cuts included in the federal budget, which she says benefits businesses and leaves out ordinary citizens.

Original article available at:

Ottawa Citizen: Protesters target McGuinty office to fight social assistance freeze

ACORN Canada member challenges premier to live on $1,040 a month.

The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer was the statement repeated through the microphone Friday as grassroots organization ACORN protested the latest budget outside Dalton McGuinty's office.

There were about 50 people in attendance to speak out against the social assistance freeze and the child tax benefit cuts that were announced Tuesday in the provincial budget.

Though McGuinty was in Ottawa on Friday to speak about the budget, he was not at his constituency office during the protest. Office staff locked the door and closed the window blinds during the protest.

Kathleen Fortin is a member of the board for ACORN and has been part of the organization for four years. "I'm here to speak for those who can't speak for themselves," said Fortin. 

Press Release: ACORN Canada launches Centre for Tenant Organizing, new hub for tenant activism in Toronto.

ACORN Canada, a national membership organization of low and moderate income families, is announcing today the launch of new online hub of activism and organizing for Toronto tenants. 

The Centre for Tenant Organizing aims to be an online clearinghouse for tenant engagement – connecting tenants to organizing materials, campaign support & City services.  The launch is in response to demand from tenants across Toronto for resources to help them to unite their neighbours in campaigns and projects to win improved housing standards. 

The site was launched with a Vital Ideas grant from the Toronto Community Foundation. 

The site is available at:

Press Release: Ontario ACORN leaders react to the harsh cuts announced in Premier McGuinty 2012 austerity budget.

Ontario ACORN members who have been fighting for an improve social safety net in Ontario were shocked and appalled at today budget.  The announcement that Premier McGuinty will freeze social assistance, scale back the child tax benefit while making threats against workers pensions is unconscionable.  

Michelle Walrond, an ACORN Canada member from Ottawa had this to say:

“It’s appalling.  I receive ODSP support of $772 a month and my rent has already risen to $832 plus hydro.  I teach ESL to supplement it, but how am I supposed to keep up?”

Ottawa Citizen: McGuinty freezes welfare

Government also reduces planned hike to child benefits as it tackles deficit.

The provincial government is scaling back a planned hike in child benefits and freezing social assistance, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Sunday, as Ontario grapples with a solution to its $16-billion deficit.

Rather than rising by $200 per year in July 2013, the child benefit will rise by $100. It will increase by the same amount one year later.

Provincial social assistance programs - which include Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program - will be frozen.

"We believe these are the right choices," McGuinty told reporters in Toronto.

The announcement comes just days before the government's seminal March 27th budget containing McGuinty's response to a growing financial crisis in the province. 

Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) Support Community Leadership

Today, we are pleased to thank the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) for their recent contribution to our leadership development program.  

ACORN Canada’s community leadership development program combines direct outreach, one on one engagement, and formal leadership schools to train our members as active community leaders.

It’s through our leadership development that we’ve been able to grow to 20+ neighbourhood chapters across 7 cities in the last 7 years.  The graduates of these leadership training programs take active leadership roles in our campaigns for social and economic justice, including: affordable and livable housing; capping rates on remittances and payday loans; and winning living wages for working families.  

We couldn’t continue without the help of friends and allies like the CEP.

Time for action on slumlords

Below is a statement from Sue Collard, ACORN Canada leader & plaintiff in landmark case that has led to $115,000 fine against Surrey Slumlord Gurdyal Singh Sahota.

Friends, yesterday in a precedent setting decision, my landlord - one of the most notorious slumlords in BC - was fined $115,000 for failing to comply with orders of the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to properly maintain and repair my building.

This is the first time the RTB has ever exercised its power to lay a fine against any landlord.

This victory was only possible because of the support and hard work of ACORN Canada members across the Lower Mainland, the heroic efforts of Scott Bernstein from PIVOT Legal Society, and the incredible hard work and dedication of advocate Kirsty MacKenzie from First United Church. 

Surrey Now: First to be fined, landlord must pay $115k

A Surrey landlord has been fined $115,000 under the Residential Tenancy Act for failing to repair rental property at Whalley's 31-unit Kwantlen Park Manor apartment building, despite repeated orders from the Residential Tenancy Branch to do so.

Gurdyal Singh Sahota and his company, Waterford Developments, has until May 15 to pay the fine.

It's the first-ever administrative penalty to be levied under the act.

Besides a flat fine of $5,000, the landlord was also fined $500 each day for each of the 220 days he failed to comply with the branch's order to repair tenant Sue Collard's leaky ceiling and do other repairs to the building.

Collard used to be a manager at Kwantlen Park Manor, where she has lived for the past seven years in a second-storey suite. She's also the chairwoman of Surrey City Centre's chapter of ACORN, a group that fights for tenants' rights. 

"Sue's case started when she was pushing her landlord to make repairs, he got fed up with it and tried to evict her," said lawyer Scott Bernstein, of Pivot Legal Society.

Bernstein called the fine a "landmark decision" and a "good step forward." 

The Province: Vancouver city councillor wants slumlords to face criminal charges as well as fines

New provincial fines for delinquent landlords are great, says Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, but for best results charge them criminally.

Jang was pleased with a $115,000 fine imposed Tuesday on notorious landlord Gurdyal Singh Sahota, a slumlord millionaire who has been the target over the years of a number of Vancouver city crackdowns.

Sahota, who owns tens of millions of dollars worth of properties, was singled out for the first administrative penalty handed out by the provincial Residential Tenancy Branch.

“From our perspective, it’s about time,” said Jang. “I’m glad to see that the Residential Tenancy Branch is stepping forward. But we used to just impose a fine – that didn’t work.”

Jang said the city has found it’s most persuasive to get a court order enforcing the city’s standards of maintenance bylaw.

“If they fail to comply, it’s essentially contempt of court,” said Jang. “It’s a criminal offence – it’s not just a fine. 

The Province: Surrey landlord slapped with $115,000 penalty

Rotting walls, a collapsed ceiling and decayed deck railings at a Surrey residential building have earned a notorious B.C. land-lord the first administrative penalty under the Residential Tenancy Act.

Gurdyal Singh Sahota and his company, Waterford Developments, have been handed a $115,000 penalty for deliberately failing to abide by a May 2011 agreement to address a chronically unattended leaking roof that affected up to six units at Kwantlen Park Manor in North Surrey.

The penalty includes a maximum one-time fine of $5,000, plus $500 for each of the 220 days of non-compliance since a June 2011 deadline.

Sue Collard, a one-time building manager at Kwantlen Park, still lives in the dilapidated three-storey building and said Tuesday's penalty "was warranted." 

CTV: Landlord Sahota fined $115K for failing to fix roof

A high-profile B.C. landlord has been handed a $115,000 penalty for refusing to fix the leaky roof on a Surrey apartment complex, despite numerous orders to do so.

According to the provincial government, the punishment handed to Gurdyal Singh Sahota and his company Waterford Developments is the first ever administrative penalty given out by the Residential Tenancy Branch.

Tenants at Kwantlen Park Manor in North Surrey have complained about moisture and mould in their suites for years and the RTB has issued several orders for Sahota to fix the roof, but to no avail.

Sahota's fine for failing to do so includes a $5,000 one-time penalty plus $500 for each of the 220 days that the roof was left unrepaired since the latest order. The RTB has had the legal right to fine irresponsible landlords a maximum of $5,000 per day since 2008.

Official complaints about the building came from resident Sue Collard, who told that the penalty is a testament to the hard work of housing advocates in Surrey.

National Reception in Toronto a Smashing Success

ACORN Canada’s National Reception in Toronto celebrated another year of campaign victories from across the country.

 The event coincided with International Women's Day, presenting us with an opportunity to give special acknowledgement to the achievements of our women leaders in addition to recent progress and success.  

The reception received support from over 120 friends, allies and Toronto ACORN members across the city and highlighted several active campaigns including improved rapid transit, affordable housing, and remittance justice.  

This year's reception was a tremendous success and a great reflection of our growing organization and leadership.  Many thanks for the supportors of the event including (but not limited to!) USW, CAW, PSAC, SEIU local 2, CUPE 4400, ATU, and the Toronto and York Regional Labour Council.

New Westminster News Leader: ACORN Canada holds New Westminster protest of money sending fees

A small group took to the windy, cold streets of Downtown New Westminster during the noon hour Tuesday to protest fees charged by Western Union and financial institutions for sending money overseas.

ACORN Canada spokeswoman Nancy Anemba led about eight people in a rally in front of the Scotiabank at Columbia and Begbie streets. They want the bank to put pressure on Western Union to reduce remittance fees charged to those wiring money back home to five per cent. Acorn says most of its clients have low-income jobs and send on average only $150 at a time. That often means the fees accumulate to 18 per cent or more for the sender.

Like many other immigrants and refugees in New Westminster, Anemba said she has been sending money to family in Nairobi, Kenya ever since arriving in Canada a little over five years ago. Most of the money she wired went to her daughter until she joined Anemba here five months ago. Now it goes to her parents. Western Union provides the money-sending service through banks, payday loan outlets and convenience stores. 

Cape Breton Post: Association Taking Aim at Slum Landlords

SYDNEY — An association determined to rid the Cape Breton Regional Municipality of slum landlords held its first meeting Wednesday to organize and elect an executive.

A dozen people met at St. Andrew’s United Church Hall on Bentinck Street to show support for the Cape Breton Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

It’s the first branch of the group organized east of Ottawa, said organizing committee member Evan Coole.

He said the group is intent on placing pressure on the CBRM to enforce the municipality’s minimum standards bylaw, which establishes standards governing the condition of occupancy and maintenance of residential properties and provides safeguards to protect health and safety.

“The problem is (the bylaw) isn’t being enforced. It’s CBRM’s bylaw and it’s up to the CBRM to figure out how to enforce it,” Coole said.

“What we’re here to do is to let (CBRM) know we’re not going to stop having meetings like this, and we’re not going to stop building a community organization that will make them do their jobs and enforce the laws that they passed.”

Group protests rental conditions at St. Clarens Avenue Apartments

Tenants of a Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue area tower say they're suffering with rental conditions they are unable to live in.

A dozen residents of 730 St. Clarens Avenue Apartments rallied outside their building this week to bring attention to the issue. They claim they're dealing with poor maintenance, safety hazards and an insect infestation, including cockroaches and bedbugs.

Ana Dinar and her sister Mary Francisco began renting an apartment there in 2008 and said the longer they lived in the building, the more maintenance issues arose. Their shower ran continuously for months, they said.

"There's mold and mildew growing because of the constant running water," said Dinar at Wednesday's rally.

Fellow tenant Ahmed Rahman, who has lived at 730 St. Clarens for six years, said he waited for months to get his toilet repaired.

"Yes, it got fixed, but it took three months," said Rahman, who along with fellow tenants held signs that read, 'Honk for Better Housing.'

Heather Kilgour, the building's office manager, said she couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about.

"I don't know what people were trying to prove," she said. "We take care of our tenants. We do repairs. We fix what needs to be done."

Toronto ACORN Stands Up for Fair Transit

On February 8th, Toronto ACORN members rallied at City Hall to support a motion put forward by TTC Chair Karen Stintz to create above and below ground rapid transit in neighborhoods across the city.  The motion was put forward as an alternative to Mayor Rob Ford's unfunded subways-only transit plan which would take decades to implement, leaving residents of Toronto's suburbs without decent, efficient rapid transit for years to come.  

Council voted against the mayor in a stunning 25-18 victory for the Stintz motion.  This victory came as the result of intense and persistent organizing by Toronto ACORN and community & labour organizations across the city, proving that with good organizing, we can make real changes at City Hall.

Ottawa EMC: 'Stop social assistance poverty,' Ottawa ACORN urges province

"I didn't always live off everybody. I had a job, and I had a life," Joynt said. "Now I exist. But it's really tough just existing."

Joynt was part of a group of [Ottawa] ACORN members that rallied in Westboro on Feb. 2, asking the provincial government to improve social assistance benefits.

She wore her used coat she bought 10 years ago and her 15-year-old used winter boots, sat in her scooter and talked about her day-to-day life living on social assistance.

"Someday, I'd like to be able to get a new coat and new boots, but who knows when and if that will ever happen," she said. "I'm tired of being cold and I'm tired of going to the food bank and coming home with very little food."

Some of the issues raised at the rally were asking the provincial government to increase social assistance rates, improving medical coverage and supporting the housing benefit.

CBC: Sydney tenants in slum rentals urged to speak out

A group that represents low-income residents in Cape Breton says dozens of people in the Sydney area are living in slum rentals.

Evan Coole, a member of ACORN [Canada] or the Cape Breton Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, [Canada] has been going door-to-door looking for tenants with complaints.

"It's a fairly big problem," said Coole.

"One out of every three doors we knock on, someone has something that is of grave concern for health, safety, security — and that makes their apartment unlivable."

Coole said most tenants are too afraid to speak out for fear of being evicted, which is one of the reasons ACORN [Canada] members decided to go door-to-door.

"Getting people in their home, they're more comfortable and feel more safe talking about what they're going through," he said.

"Mould, mice, rats, severe water damage, just conditions that are absolutely unfit to live in and people should not be paying to live in."

Statement of Condolences Following Horrific Traffic Accident in Ontario

This Monday a horrific traffic accident outside the town of Hampstead, Ontario killed 11 migrant workers from Peru in one of the deadliest accidents in Canadian history.  

On behalf of the 45,000 members of ACORN Canada, our thoughts go out to the families of those affected by this tragedy.  This incident hits especially close to home for the members of our sister organization ACORN Peru, many of whom have relatives or loved ones who have travelled outside the country to find work.