Toronto ACORN

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NOW Magazine: Unfair Welfare; Libs’ social assistance review sows confusion on the anti-poverty front lines

 People in poverty already have poor nutritional habits because they can’t afford to eat properly.When it comes to social assistance policy in Ontario, it’s sometimes hard to know the difference between helping and hurting.

That’s the problem many activists are having in the wake of the release late last month of the long-awaited report Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance In Ontario.

In the weeks since then, many on poverty’s front lines have been busy sorting through the hundred-odd proposals in the 200-page report, trying to separate out the supportable items amid widespread concern that equality issues could get buried in the Liberal leadership transition.

Not all those attuned to the issues have the same take on the document, though the general feeling is that in the current social assistance mess, any change is better than none.

According to the Income Security Advocacy Centre’s policy analyst Jennifer Laidley, who generally welcomes the report, groups have already had initial meetings with Minister John Milloy and opposition parties to push what they see as the more acceptable parts of the agenda forward.

Survey of Remittance Users in Ontario: July – October 2012

remittance campaign graph nov 12 2012Summary 

  • 154 of the 229 survey participants indicated how much they were charged. The participants were also asked how often they sent money abroad.
  • When the fees were calculated as a percentage of the amount sent, the data clearly showed that people who send less money are charged a much higher rate than people who send a larger amount of money. On average people who send $100 or less are charged 13.26% compared to people who send over $500 who are charged on average 1.84%.
  • Of the 186 survey participants who reported how much they sent per transaction:
    • 60 reported they sent $100 or less (32%)
    • 106 reported that they sent $200 or less (57%)
  • Of the 229 survey participants who responded to the question “Is the exchange rate fee included in the fees?”
    • 55 indicated that they did not know (24%)
    • 36 said the exchange rate fee was not included in the original fee (16%)
    • 111 said the fees were all lumped together (48%)
    • 27 did not answer the question (12%)
  • Of the 229 participants, 189 sent remittances at least once a year (83%)
  • Of the 189
    • 22 sent 1 time
    • 20 sent 2 times
    • 28 sent 3-5 times
    • 27 sent 6 times
    • 80 sent 12 times
    • 10 sent 24 times
  • The participants were sending money to 37 different countries.

New Endorsements for Ontario Remittance Justice Campaign

ACORN members rallying for Remittance JusticeSupport for Remittance Justice is building every day across Ontario.

Every year Ontarians send hundreds of millions of dollars to loved ones overseas. The companies that process those payments often take 10-20% off the top. ACORN members have been working for two years to lower the fees so that money gets to the people who need it.

 

New people are joining ACORN as members, and as allies, to do what they can to get Bill 98 passed.

Introduced in May by MPP Jagmeet Singh and leading members of ACORN, Bill 98 would put a cap on the fees charged by Money Transfer Organizations (e.g. Western Union, MoneyGram); it would also make the industry transparent so customers know exactly how much they're paying to send money to family overseas. 

Housing Crisis in Ontario

ACORN members rally for Healthy Homes. Last Thursday, September 20th, leading members of ACORN Canada Kay Bisnath and Tina Morris met with Kathleen Wynne, Member of Provincial Parliament for Don Valley West and Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

On behalf of ACORN members across Ontario, Bisnath and Morris were asking for an immediate response to the crisis that tenants in Ontario are dealing with: stronger rent control – on all rental units, not just occupied ones - and action now from the provincial government to protect tenants from slum landlords who refuse to do basic and vital repairs.

Minister Wynne thinks there is no crisis.

We disagree.

NOW Magazine: Tenant activists take on Libs

ACORN members rally at the office of Kathleen Wynne. August 9, 2012.It’s all about the loopholes.

Back in June when the Liberals passed bill 19, an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act limiting annual rent increases to 2.4%, they were obviously hoping to chill out tenant activists.

Fat chance. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has just launched a campaign pointing to the bill’s chief flaws: not only is it inapplicable to buildings constructed after 1991, but it doesn’t apply to vacant units, meaning new renters can face increases of any old amount.

Last Wednesday, August 29, a small clutch of ACORN members in matching red t’s, protested in front of the office of Kathleen Wynne, minister of municipal affairs and housing on Eglinton E, the first of a number of events planned.

Celebrating 8 Years of Organizing

ACORN members in action. For over eight years now, ACORN Canada members have been building and organizing. They've run strong campaigns at the local, provinical, national and now international levels. There are nearly 50,000 of them in cities and towns all across the country. 

In neighborhood chapters across the country, members are doing things to celebrate ACORN Canada's eighth birthday. Here are two:

In Toronto, members will gather with friends and allies at Dufferin Grove Park on Saturday, August 11th for a picnic from 10 AM to 2 PM. They'll be accepting donations, sharing food, enjoying the park and playing games. 

In Ottawa's Brittania chapter, members are having a BBQ on Saturday, August 18th at Brittania beach. It'll be a lot of fun and the food will be pay-what-you-can. 

At both events, all are welcome! 

Contact the ACORN office closest to you with questions or if you can help with preperations for these celebrations!

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.

Member Profile: Rohan Jagroo

Rohan Jagroo joined Toronto ACORN’s Weston chapter in August, 2011 because his landlord wasn’t doing the repairs and cleaning that were needed in his high-rise apartment  building.

He’s been active since then - participating in and leading neighborhood meetings, visiting his Member of Provincial Parliament to lobby for changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, and speaking to the media on behalf of the organization.

In addition to his leadership and organizing on local campaigns for better housing, he’s become very involved in the campaign for remittance justice. In February of this year he and other members met with MPP Jagmeet Singh to plan for the introduction of a private member’s bill that would bring remittance justice to Ontario. It was tabled on May 31st.

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.

Inside Toronto: Toronto tenants, politicians to talk rent control

Toronto politicians and tenants will talk this Saturday, May 12, afternoon about whether Ontario's government should reinstate permanent rent controls and allow the city to license its landlords.

ACORN Canada (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada) has fought for a system of landlord licensing in Toronto which would force landlords to pay for repairs, but it cannot happen without changes in provincial law.

The advocacy group, which says the city's rents "continue to skyrocket" as buildings deteriorate, also wants to see the province return to rent controls which limit permitted rent increases on apartments whether or not those apartments are vacant.

Liberal and New Democrat MPPs and city councillors have been invited to a provincial housing forum on these issues at 1:30 p.m. at the Ontario Federation of Labour building on Gervais Drive, near the corner of Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East.

Original article available at: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/local/article/1353953--toronto-tenants-politicians-to-talk-rent-control

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