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:

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.

Fix EI Petition

Employment Insurance is a key piece of Canada's social safety net, and an important economic stabilizer.  In past recessions it has prevented deeper, longer recession and reduced the shock of job losses on working families and their communities.

As this economic downturn continues, we have an EI system that is weaker than in previous recessions.  Only 42% of unemployed workers receive EI at any given time – Because fewer workers qualify and benefit weeks are reduced.

Now is the time to expand EI to protect workers, their families and vulnerable communities.

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Free Tax Prep

ACORN Canada is launching a major drive next month to reduce poverty and build community wealth in low income neighbourhoods across Toronto, Ottawa and Metro Vancouver.

This project is focused around using free tax preparation to ensure that low and moderate income Canadians receive all the benefits that exist in the tax system as well as connect them to other unrealized benefits and services.

This has the outcome of reducing poverty, improving participation in available services and has an economic multiplier effect that creates jobs and stimulates local economies.

Last year this project prepared taxes for over 1000 people in Toronto in Metro Vancouver connecting low income families to over $2,000,000.00 in tax returns.

Ontario Payday Loan Next Steps

Feb 6, 2009 - Today the Board established by the Province of Ontario to make a recommendation on the cap for payday loan rates released their report. It calls for payday loan costs to be capped at $21 for every $100 borrowed.

While we hoped for a stronger rate cap, we urge the McGuinty administration to act quickly to make this recommendation law.  We are calling on Minister of Small Business and Consumer Protections (MPP Harindar Takhar) to immediately bring the issue to cabinet and to advocate for its quick approval.


This may not be the rate cap ACORN members wanted, but it's still a major victory.  When ACORN began organizing around payday lending, there were no rules, no licenses, and no rate caps; it was the wild west of lending.

Today most Provinces have brought in regulation to curb the most predatory of the practices in the industry, and slowly their bringing in rate caps to prevent excessive fee's and interest.

It's about time.

ACORN Canada Celebrates Opening of 4th Office

ACORN Canada is pleased to announce the launch of our 4th office in Hamilton Ontario.

With manufacturing towns like Hamilton being hit the hardest by the economic meltdown, the need to organize the impacted communities  to work together to overcome shared issues is more important now then ever.

Today, we’re asking you to spend a couple minutes and use our online organizing tools and encourage any friends or family you know in Hamilton to sign-on as supporter of Hamilton ACORN.

You can get a hold of the new office by calling 905-818-0478.

Budget for Housing: Build the Economy

The Federal Government is announcing a budget and stimulus package on January 27th.

The time to act is now.

ACORN is calling for the budget / stimulus package to include $1.8 Billion for two housing initiatives. First, a national affordable housing strategy to build new affordable housing, and secondly a national fund to provide resources to Provinces and Municipalities to repair their existing social housing stock (as called for in the CCPA AFB, 2009).

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Click Here to Send an Email to Harper, Flaherty and Ignatieff

This will accomplish three key goals: Creating new living wage jobs to stimulate the economy, improving the quality of the existing social housing infrastructure and building much needed new affordable housing.

Currently, as many as 1.5 million Canadians are experiencing core housing need, meaning that they are under-housed or face an unsustainable financial burden to maintain their current housing situation (CMHC).

Ontario Takes Modest First Steps Towards Poverty Reduction

Earlier Today, Ontario MPP Deb Mathews released the McGuinty administrations Poverty Reduction Plan.

The plan contains a series of encouraging steps as well as number of clear challenges.

First, the good news; The plan commits the province to reducing Child Poverty by 25% in 5 years and contains some new money for a number of poverty reduction programs including the Child Tax Benefit, the Rent Bank Fund and for the hiring of new employment standards officers to crack down of bad employers.

Now, the challenges; Scaled to the population of Ontario, Quebec made the equivalent of $1 billion of new annual investments in poverty reduction during the early years of their plan. Ontario has only committed to spending $300 million, some of which may have already been allocated. Further, the plan calls on much of the resources required to be meet the goal of 25 in 5 to be committed by the Federal Government, with no hint as to whether or not the Fed's would actually provide the resources.

ACORN Featured in the Toronto Sun

ACORN Member Shows Toronto Sun Slum-Like Conditions in his Apartment

BEN SPENCER, SUN MEDIA  July 4th, 2008

If it wasn't so serious, it would almost be funny.

Michael Fitz Gerald peered up at the gaping hole in the ceiling above a neighbour's shower and shook his head.

From this third-floor Scarborough hellhole, he had a clear view of the piping leading to his bathtub on the fourth floor.

That's what six weeks of leaking pipes will do to 40-year-old drywall. While he may be at wit's end over his landlord's inaction, Fitz Gerald hasn't lost his sense of humour. "I just hope my tub doesn't fall through into her shower some day," he said.


Ottawa ACORN to the Province: Don't Hang us out to Dry

ACORN members from across Ottawa will be holding a press event at City Hall displaying a clothesline of work orders that remain outstanding in Ottawa Community Housing.  ACORN members will be asking that the city come with them to the province to upload public housing costs.  ACORN members are tired of being “hung out to dry” given the state of disrepair in OCH.

Click to send a message to the Minister of Housing
Click to become a community supporter of this campaign

Erin Albright, an ACORN member, feels “we deserve housing that meets minimum standards, unfortunately, OCH and our city councilors tell us that it will take approximately $600 million dollars to bring our homes up to that standard.” ACORN members like Erin have

Toronto ACORN Liveable Housing Forum

November 5th, 2008 - Toronto ACORN will be holding a Livable Housing Forum on Saturday, November 8th at 1pm at the Main Square Community Center (245 Main St., just south of Danforth).  The event is a part of ACORN's campaign to License Landlords in Toronto in the most effective way possible.

Toronto's neighborhoods are riddled with sub-standard living conditions forcing tenants to put up with black mold, bed bugs, and a lack of repairs, cleaning and maintenance.  Toronto ACORN members have been holding rallies and actions at slum-buildings around the city for 3 years to pressure the city to hold landlords accountable to their tenants.

City Hall is going to decide soon whether we get a strong licensing system or a weak one.  Toronto ACORN members demand to be heard!  We are inviting every city councilor in Toronto to attend the event.