1310 News: Ottawa ACORN calls for rental cap

Ottawa members rally for Healthy Homes at Dalton McGuinty's office. August 29 2012.A group of around 30 Ottawa residents rallied in front of Premier Dalton McGuinty's Kilborn Avenue office Wednesday afternoon, calling for fair rent.

They were part of Ottawa ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, an advocacy group that fights for those who struggle to make ends meet.

Ottawa ACORN was calling on the provincial government to prevent landlords from increasing rent by more than 3.1 per cent on units after a tenant has moved out.

Tina was living in an apartment that needed upgrades and utility work done.

"Before we moved out, I saw an ad online for our aparment," she said. "He had raised the rent from the $850 that we were paying, to $1,200 for this apartment. Not one thing was fixed before the new tenants moved in."

Ontario ACORN Members Rally for Affordable Housing

Tina Aug 29 2012 Vacancy control 2

Today, ACORN members in Toronto and Ottawa took action for affordable and liveable housing in Ontario.

Over 50 ACORN members rallied to hold Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government accountable for the promises they made to prohibit rent increases when landlords fail to  maintain their buildings, and to provide stronger protections for renters. So far McGuinty has failed to keep those promises, and ACORN members are holding him to account!

As part of a province-wide day of action on our Healthy Homes campaign, Ottawa members outside Dalton McGuinty’s office and Toronto members outside Kathleen Wynne (Housing Minister)’s office demanded to be engaged on capping rent increases on vacant apartments and making housing liveable and affordable in Ontario – as McGuinty promised. 

For more information and to get involved in the Healthy Homes campaign, contact your local ACORN office today!

Update: Shortly after the Toronto action, Kathleen Wynne called Toronto ACORN to schedule a meeting with our leaders. Looks like we got her attention!

Day of Action: Cap the Vacancy Rates!

daltons office mar 30 2012Members in Ottawa are fighting to cap rent increases on vacant apartments to 3.1%, which is the current maximum rate for occupied units. ACORN members want Premier Dalton McGuinty to live up to his election commitments to stand up for tenants and make rent affordable. Ottawa has over 10,000 families on the wait list - the third largest in the province - for affordable housing.

Member Lana Bogart, who is paying market rent, says: “Dalton McGuinty made a promise to tenants to do something about inflationary rent increases, and we're still waiting for him to keep that promise. I've been in my apartment for almost six years, and our landlord has put us on a month-to-month lease, and he no longer does repairs in a timely fashion. It feels like they're trying to get us to move out so they can raise the rent to current market rates.” 

Members will meet Wednesday, August 29, 12pm outside 1795 Kilborn (Dalton McGunity's constituency office). Join us to fight for affordable housing now! Wear your ballcap to CAP the vacancy rates! Transportation assistance available but RSVP necessary, call 613 746 5999 or email

Victory for BC ACORN's Disability Rights Group

futureshop logoBC ACORN's Disability Rights Group, led by Rick Erb, Tom Page, Noel Ouellette, and Canada Drouin recently took action to make their local Future Shop accesible. 

After the management of their local Future Shop ignored a letter about their entrance being difficult for many customers to navigate, ACORN members came out with petitions to build public support for their demand that the entrance be made accessible. 


ASCORCAN LogoOn September 1st, Ottawa ACORN will be at ASCORCAN's annual Pupusa Festival at Brewer Park. 

ACORN members will be spreading the word about their campaign for Remittance Justice. 

Millions of Canadians send money to family members overseas and are often charged as much as 20% of money sent in various fees. 

Right now it's critical that people across Ontario contact their MPP and ask for support for Bill 98 - a piece of legislation that would cap remittance fees and regulate the remittance industry. 

Contact Ottawa ACORN's office if you can help get the word out that day, or if you'd like to join in the celebration! 

Building for a National Day of Action on Housing

Ottawa ACORN planning meeting for August 29 Day of Action. On August 29th, ACORN members across Canada will be taking action for affordable and livable housing. 

Right now, members are hard at work building those actions. Get in touch with the ACORN office closest to you if you can help.

In Ottawa and Toronto ACORN members met this week to talk about turn-out and details for the day of. 

Communites across Canada are facing a crisis - they're in desperate need of more affordable and livable housing.

In BC, ACORN members recently met with the assistant deputy minister for housing after a long campaign to pressure his government to take the needs of tenants more seriously. Read more about that here

In Ottawa, ACORN members recently started a city-wide Healthy Homes campaign. Read more about that here

August will be busy as ACORN members from coast to coast continue meeting, and planning, and organizing.

Work for Ottawa ACORN

Title: Community Organizer
Location: Ottawa

What Do ACORN Canada Organizers Do?

ACORN Canada Organizers build organizations in low-income communities. How? House by house, family by family, organizers hear from community residents what they want changed in their neighborhood, city, province, and country. Organizers work with community residents to hold meetings, do research on key issues, and develop campaign strategies to get these issues addressed. The ACORN Canada organizer's job is to work for the membership of ACORN Canada, helping them build the power they need to win the things their communities and families need.

How do we get our members' issues addressed?

Through direct actions, negotiations, working with the media, and, however else we can win progressive change for working families!

ACORN Canada organizers do many things; there's never a dull moment

All ACORN Canada organizers:
• Recruit members
• Identify hot issues
• Develop leaders
• Organize meetings, rallies, press conferences, marches etc.
• Fund raise

What does it take to be an ACORN Canada Organizer?
• Passion and dedication to social justice
• Excellent communication skills
• Strong work ethic and willingness to learn
• Ability to work independently and in a team

There are full and part time job opportunities available.

Please send resumes to with “Ottawa Organizer Position” in the subject line.

Toronto ACORN Update

ACORN Canada members in Toronto are coming together this summer for livable housing, remittance justice, and gardening.

They’re working now to let their neighbors know about ongoing campaigns for more affordable and livable housing. On August 29th they’ll come together for a national day of action on livable housing – call the office now if you can help build towards that.

The community garden co-founded by ACORN members near East York’s Dawes Rd. is thriving this year. Send us an email if you can help look after it.

Ottawa ACORN Healthy Homes Rally

Ottawa ACORN members from across the city came together on July 11th to send a message to their city councilors – Ottawa needs Healthy Homes now.

They came with pictures of their homes – they wanted to know if the city councilors who refuse to take action for Healthy Homes would confront the consequences of that: by living in apartments that aren’t safe or clean.

New members Blaine Cameron and Ronny Mosuro spoke on behalf of ACORN about some of the things that tenants are forced to live with: dirty carpets, cockroaches, bed bugs, broken elevators, disrespect and harassment from landlords.

For updates on the Ottawa Healthy Homes campaign, and for video of the July 11th action, check out Ottawa ACORN on Facebook.

Cape Breton Update

The Healthy Homes campaign in Cape Breton is turning frustrated tenants into new ACORN members.

They’re splitting their time between letting tenants across the region know about the election that’s coming up this fall, and surveying all the candidates in that election to find out where they stand on issues of affordable and livable housing.

Remittance Campaign Update

After months of work by Ontario ACORN members, Bill 98, Consumer Protection Amendment Act (Money Transfers) was tabled by MPP Jagmeet Singh on May 31.  ACORN Canada members across the province are working now to let their neighbors know, and to make sure that MPPs from all parties know that Ontario needs remittance justice now.

On June 29th ACORN members met with the Ministry of Consumers Affairs policy staff; stay tuned to find out where the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Margaret Best, stands on the issue.

EMC News: ACORN calls for action on healthier homes, Anti-poverty group wants tougher regulations on landlords

Ottawa ACORN members rally for Healthy Homes. When Ronny Mosuro moved into her Cedarwood Drive apartment last October, she had a list of promises from her landlord to clean up the unit and rid it of bed bugs and cockroaches. Nearly a year later, the frustrated mother was nearly in tears as she addressed a crowd of protesters outside of Ben Franklin Place on July 11.

Ottawa ACORN, an anti-poverty advocacy group, met outside of the former Nepean city hall to show pictures of rental units in disrepair to councillors meeting for the last time before the summer break.

Mosuro said she moved into an apartment in the east end to save money, but was horrified to learn she would have to deal with insect infestations.

"My kids had never even heard of cockroaches or bed bugs," she said, pointing to an enlarged photo of her son's arm, pockmarked with bed bug bites. 

Jack Bogart, who served as the emcee for the protest, called what tenants living in sub par conditions were dealing with a "psychological assault."

"Living with these kinds of problems deteriorates the health of society's most vulnerable," he said. "It is often the working poor paying market rent living in these conditions. It attacks your sense of self worth."  

Seize the Opportunity to Regulate Remittances

The response to our campaign for remittance justice - calling for a cap on overseas remittances rates to 5% - has been inspiring.

We’ve been endorsed by the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen and a number of other papers and had an overwhelming response from our members & supporters.

Our opponents - the banks and transfer companies like Western Union - are gearing up to oppose regulation and fight to protect their profits.

We don’t have the deep pockets and lobbyists of the banks and transfer companies, but we do have people power that they can never match.

We’ve already started holding local grassroots actions and we’re getting results -but we urgently need supporters like you to chip in and support more grassroots actions to keep the pressure on. Donate Now >> 

Not convinced?  This is what the Toronto Star Editorial Board had to say about a private members bill to regulate remittances:

Pressure is Building for Remittance Justice

Across Ontario support is building for Bill 98 - a piece of legislation that ACORN members and ally MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramlea Gore Malton) have brought forward to cap the fees on remittance fees and bring transparency to the industry.

Jagmeet Singh asked Margaret Best, the Minister of Consumer Affairs in Dalton McGuinty's cabinet, if remittance users can count on support from her government. Watch here: 

Share News has added their voice to the debate, urging all parties to support this badly needed legislation:

A good number of the people using remittance services are low-wage earners supporting families back home, so high fees are a hardship both for those sending money from here and for those receiving less there.

Jamaica Gleaner: Bill To Cap Remittance Charges Gains Support

New Westminister ACORN members rally for remittance justice.A recent private member’s bill introduced in the Ontario Legislature to put a stop to what critics call corporate “gouging” on migrant workers and immigrants, who count on remittance services to wire money to their loved ones overseas, is gaining ground among Caribbean nationals in Toronto.

The bill, drafted by Jagmeet Singh, the New Democrat MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton, would cap the rates in Ontario to no more than 5 per cent of the money transferred.

The proposal would also require financial institutions such as MoneyGram and Western Union to disclose any hidden fees in transactions. Singh said that this is an important issue for a large number of people in Ontario who are not being charged a fair rate.

He said it makes it difficult for them to send money to their loved ones. Support the bill Acton McKenley sends money to family in Jamaica three times per month and said it cost him $10 per transaction.

Brampton Local: NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh to introduce Foreign Money Transfer bill

brampton local jagmeet singh june 20 2012Bramlea- Gore Malton NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh, with the support of Ontario ACORN, will introduce a Private Member Bill to regulate Foreign Money Transfer fees today.

The Province of Ontario has jurisdiction over money transfer organizations like Western Union and MoneyGram.

ACORN members are happy to announce that the bill includes a 5% cap on fees and will include disclosure and enforcement. Even the World Bank and the G8 are prompting a plan called “5×5″; their goal is to reduce the price of transferring money via remittances down to 5% and to do so in 5 years (by the target date of 2014).

“For too long, immigrants and migrant workers have experienced financial injustice because of the fees charged by Money Transfer Organizations. We are very encouraged to see a ray of hope in the legislation to be introduced by Jagmeet Singh that could lower the fees in Ontario for sending money overseas,” says Kay Bisnath, President of ACORN Canada.

Share News Editorial: Gov’t should support money transfer bill

If you send $100 to Guyana, Jamaica or Trinidad using a remittance service, on average 10 per cent will go in fees to the money transfer company you use. Once the money reaches your loved ones, the daily exchange rate as decided on by a remittance service again lowers the amount the person you send it to actually receives.

A good number of the people using remittance services are low-wage earners supporting families back home, so high fees are a hardship both for those sending money from here and for those receiving less there.

The people who encounter these charges when using these remittance services see this as gouging. For this reason, New Democrat MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea-Gore-Malton) has introduced a private member’s bill in the Ontario legislature to put limits on the fees charged by remittance companies such as Western Union, which has the biggest share of this particular service at 17 per cent, and Moneygram.

iPolitics Insight: Regulating remittance fees makes sense for Ontario

Last week, Ontario NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea-Gore-Malton) introduced a private member’s bill that proposes to regulate the fees that financial institutions levy on remittances, transfers of money from individuals in Ontario to people around the world.  

Among other requirements, the bill calls for a five per cent cap on these fees, which currently can reach much higher levels, depending on the destination of the funds.

Why should all parties support this bill?

Lowering the cost of sending remittances will enhance the wellbeing of Ontario’s multicultural communities, will improve Ontario’s impact on international economic development, and crucially, will make Ontario a more attractive destination for immigrants.

Cape Breton ACORN Fights for Fair Hydro Rates

ACORN Canada members in Cape Breton joined the Cape Breton District Labour Council, and allies in Halifax,  last week to rally for affordable electricity. Nova Scotians are facing a 6% increase in the cost of electricity at the same time as Emera hydro company executives are taking home bonuses and raises.

Members will continue to build their campaign to hold accountable private hydro company Emera, and to make electricity affordable.

Cape Breton ACORN’s Healthy Homes campaign will be their other focus this summer. There are new faces at every meeting, and a lot of excitement for more action, and for making tenant issues into election issues in this fall’s municipal election.

Ottawa ACORN Puts Food in the Budget

Ottawa ACORN members rallied on May 24 in front of Food Basics to Put Food in the Budget. The rising costs of food combined with stagnant social assistance rates are forcing more members to food banks and into poverty.

Leaders like Kathleen Fortin, who receives ODSP, want to see a fair shake for recipients of ODSP/OW and a reversal of the Mike Harris-era cuts. "The cost of food, especially allergy sensitive food, goes up, but my cheque doesn't," Fortin said.

URGENT: MPPs Need to Hear from Tenants

On Tuesday, ACORN members took a message to Queen’s Park.

The justice committee was meeting to discuss Bill 19, which would amend the Residential Tenancies Act. There are important changes needed to that act, but Bill 19 as it’s currently written won’t make any of them.

What’s needed? An end to vacancy decontrol. Right now, rent increases are only regulated for as long as an individual tenant lives in an apartment. When they move out the rent can be dramatically increased. This puts long term tenants in the crosshairs of unscrupulous landlords, and it leads to unsustainable increases in the cost of rental housing. ACORN is calling for real rent control in Ontario.

Cape Breton Post: Power rate request sparks protest

Edith Lawrence joined the Power to the People protest outside of the provincial building on Prince Street, Thursday. Greg McNeil - Cape Breton PostSYDNEY — People protesting Nova Scotia Power Inc.’s requested rate increases questioned why utility executives are receiving bonuses and raises at a time when many Nova Scotians struggle to pay their power bill.

Thursday’s rally outside the provincial building on Prince Street called for democratic, public ownership of the utility.

“This is an issue that has a lot of us fired up,” said Evan Coole, a member of Cape Breton Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

“It is hard enough to make a pay cheque last week-to-week with rent and regular expenses. Now one of the biggest regular expenses is going up yet again to line the pockets of Emera and Nova Scotia Power CEOs.”

The Cape Breton Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now worked with the Cape Breton District Labour Council to organize the Sydney rally, which coincided with rallies on the South Shore and in Halifax.

Chronicle Herald: Groups gather to protest power rate hikes, executive salaries

SYDNEY – Protesters in Sydney say high executive salaries, record high profits and steadily increasing power rates translate into Nova Scotia Power bleeding the people of the province.

As part of a province-wide protest against what's being called Emera and Nova Scotia Power's "natural" monopoly, protesters are calling for the Nova Scotia government to take back what "rightfully" belongs to the people.

Other groups held protests in Bridgewater and in Halifax today. The business has come under fire in recent weeks after disclosing million-dollar salaries for its top executives.

It was a small but vocal crowd that gathered in front of the provincial building in Sydney at noontime.

"Emera is investing outside the province and not investing enough in clean power generation here," said Suzanne MacNeil, president of the Cape Breton and District Labour Council.

The council and ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) organized the event in this part of the province, seeking to raise awareness about what they claim is the power corporation's grip on Nova Scotians.

EMC News: ACORN challenges province to put food in the budget

Kathleen Fortin, a member of the ACORN Ottawa executive shouts opposition to clawbacks during a protest to raise social assistance cheques in line with the cost of living at the Food Basics on Merivale Road on May 24.EMC news - Members of ACORN - a poverty advocacy group - challenged the Ontario premier to put food in the budget with a protest held in front of a Food Basics on Merivale Road on May 24.

Kathleen Fortin, a member of Ottawa ACORN's board, said the stagnant rates of social assistance don't work with the rising cost of food.

"It just doesn't add up," she said.

She says that she and her partner are both on disability and can barely make the rent each month. "My boyfriend has had cancer and can't work because of it. His diet is restricted and expensive," she said. "Is he supposed to stop eating properly because he no longer has enough funding to do so? No. We're just going to have to find the money we don't have."

ACORN says it has about 1,600 members in the Ottawa area and Fortin said they challenged Dalton McGuinty to try and pay for the monthly food and grocery bills while receiving a meager allowance on social assistance.