Ontario Coalition for Social Justice news and events around the GTA

May 2, 2008

This is the time of year when we all have innumerable things to do and meetings to attend before summer time. The exciting thing about poverty reduction is that so many people and groups are organizing, expressing their concerns, and pushing governments to actually do something to reduce poverty:



A Forum to Reduce Poverty in Ontario

Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

at USWA Hall, 25 Cecil St, Toronto

[south of College St., and 2 blocks west of subway stop at College &


Agenda highlights (more info to follow):

• Shine a light on poverty in the province

• Recommend ways to reduce poverty and increase social justice

• Learn about the Provincial Government’s plans for poverty

reduction — with Cheri DiNovo, MPP (Parkdale-High Park) and we have also

invited the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction to send a


• Mobilize for public input into the process

Open at no cost to all activists interested in social justice — labour,

student, aboriginal, women, ethno-racial, and other equity-seeking groups


Deb Matthews, MPP (London North Centre), as Chair of Ontario’s Cabinet

Committee on Poverty Reduction, is clearly the committee’s public voice in

explaining its intentions about consulting people to develop

recommendations within this year to reduce poverty in the province. The

Minister spoke to very well attended meetings last week which were

organized by the 25 in 5 network and also by ISARC.

It was frustrating for community groups that the Cabinet Committee did not

take advantage of those highly publicized events to announce its

consultation schedule. However, we are assured that the schedule will be

announced soon.



One current dispute between aboriginals in Ontario and authorities in

Government concerns aboriginal land rights and their assumption that

consulting them is an elementary right before a mining company, for

example, uses lands that they claim belong to them.

In northwestern Ontario, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inniuwig (KI) aboriginals,

and around Sharbot Lake west of Ottawa, the Ardoch Algonquin aboriginals,

are opposing the drilling for minerals on their lands. Yet despite their

peaceful claims, leaders of the bands in each region have been sentenced

to six months in jail because of their public claims. Apparently, both

the Premier and the Ontario Attorney General (AG) have offered the

aboriginal leaders money to fight these disputes legally, but Mr. McGuinty

and Mr. Bryant each claim that they cannot interfere with a court process,

and so cannot order the aboriginal leaders’ release.


The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) are initiating campaign schools to focus

on retaining jobs as part of the union’s campaign to help its members, but

as part of its strong belief that jobs, especially good jobs that offer

benefits to workers too, is one of the best ways to eradicate poverty. As

well, the CAW is encouraging municipalities to adopt a policy to buy

Canadian products for all public purchases as a further means of

protecting jobs in the province.

A series of schools began this past weekend for workers in St.

Catharine’s, Niagara Falls, Welland, Thorold, and Pelham in the Niagara

region, and schools will also be held in Kitchener-Waterloo on May 3, in

Windsor on May 10, and in Oshawa on May 24.


The organizing by OPSEU staff among 12,500 part-time workers at community

colleges to join the union has been recognized at last by John Milloy, MPP

(Kitchener Centre), Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, &

Universities. The Minister said yesterday that the government plans to

introduce legislation this spring permitting the workers to gain

bargaining rights.


##The 25 in 5 forum on poverty reduction on April 14 attracted almost 500

activists who urged the Ontario Government to take serious action now on

reducing poverty. The network’s principles and actions are available at

Toronto’s social planning council website at

##The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) attracted a

further 100 activists from faith communities to urge the Government to

accomplish the same goal.

ISARC will be consulting local faith groups with whom they work to

organize meetings where people will be able to discuss how faith groups

can contribute to urging government action. Its tour is to be planned for

London, Hamilton, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay.

Minister Deb Matthews spoke at each of these forums, and stayed long

enough at each one to hear from a number of diverse activists, including

persons living in poverty, persons receiving each of Ontario Works and

Ontario Disability Support Program income.

##The Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) has been consulting with a

number of communities about co-operative action on urging government

action and will continue to do so in a location to be announced for

talking with Canadian Association of Community Living on April 24, in

Cambridge on April 25, in Cornwall on April 28, and in Ottawa on May 7.

Details, times, and contact information for these meetings can be found at

a new website initiated by the SPNO called Poverty Watch Ontario and


##The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has renewed a permit granting a

unit of Nestle Canada Inc the right to continue extracting up to 3,600,000

litres of groundwater each day near Guelph to then sell as spring water.

This decision raises so many issues, like the token fees paid by a

transnational corporation to profit from water which may be needed by the

increasing population in the Guelph region, that it defies rational

belief! Local concerns can be read at the website of Wellington Water

##A much more positive decision for the health of students and staff at

schools in the Waterloo Region was taken by the District School Board

which has banned the sale of plastic bottles of water in its schools as of

next year.


##There are increasing numbers of unions and community groups which are

expressing their criticisms of the federal government’s proposed

amendments to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as

amounting to giving the Immigration Minister far too much power and

discretion about who and how many persons will be allowed to enter Canada.

The Canadian Arab Federation, the Chinese Canadian National Council, the

union UNITE HERE, and the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) are some

of the increasing numbers of critics.

One clear event that will attract many people is being organized by No One

Is Illegal for a rally on May 3, cited below in the events section.

##An excellent Federal Tax Court judgment was issued a few days ago in

B.C. whereby the judge criticized the widespread exploitation of migrant

agricultural workers as reminiscent of scenes from author John Steinbeck’s

The Grapes of Wrath. The determined work by the United Food & Commercial

Workers (UFCW) across the country, including in both Ontario and B.C., and

also the community activists from Justicia 4 Migrant Workers, will be able

to rely on this judgment for their advocacy for migrant workers from now



Parliament’s HUMA Committee (Human Resources and Social Development) has

begun its study on a poverty plan for Canada. The committee plans 3 or 4

meetings to discuss an overview of poverty in Canada; 2 to 4 meetings to

compare poverty in Canada with that in countries like the U.K. and

Ireland, from which Canada may learn ideas which could be used here; and 6

to 10 meetings to discuss how the federal government can contribute to a

poverty reduction strategy in Canada.

To ask to appear, or to learn about submitting a written brief, contact

HUMA Committee clerk Jacques Mazaide, Room 6-37, 131 Queen Street, House

of Commons, Ottawa, Ont K1A 0A6, Tel: (613) 996-1542, Fax: (613) 992-1962,

or E-mail: HUMA@parl.gc.ca

An active M.P. from Ontario on the committee is Tony Martin, M.P. (Sault

Ste. Marie) assisted by Rick Prashaw, Tony’s Legislative Assistant,

available at MartiTo0@parl.gc.ca Information about the hearings is

available on Tony’s website


The numerous supporters of a fairer voting system for Ontario, and for

other provinces, as well as for the federal level of government, are

rejuvenating the campaign in Ontario to stimulate public awareness of the

need for changing or reforming the voting system. Activists in Fair Vote

Ontario are interested in discussing their concerns in meetings and events

and are planning now to organize a major public forum next autumn to

highlight what is needed to be done to achieve change.

Information about these concerns, and also how to join others in your

neighbourhood to learn about and to support change, is available at


May 3

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council and its Equity Committee

is hosting the sixth Workers of Colour and Aboriginal Workers’ conference.

It starts at 9:00 a.m., costs $40 including lunch, and takes place at the

OFL building, 15 Gervais Dr. For information, contact Ana Fonseca at

afonseca@labourcouncil.ca or at (416) 441-3663 x221.

May 3

No One Is Illegal is organizing a rally at 12:00 p.m. at Christie

Pits Park, across from the Christie subway stop in Toronto, to protest

unfair deportations of immigrants and refugees to Canada.

May 10 The OCSJ spring assembly and AGM will take place from 10:00 a.m.

till 4:00 p.m. in Toronto at the Steelworkers’ Hall at 25 Cecil St., near

the Queen’s Park subway stop. For information, contact John Argue at

info@ocsj.ca or (416) 441-3714.

May 10

The London and District Labour Council is hosting a joint activist

forum from 10:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m., in the common room of the Tolpuddle

Housing Co-op at 380 Adelaide St. N. The forum title is “Turning

globalization around with grass-roots activists”, with a Latin American

focus because of concerns in London about what’s happening in Colombia, in

particular, and incidentally, the city’s increasing Spanish-speaking

population. Information about the forum is available from (519) 645-3108.

John Argue, Co-ordinator

Ontario Coalition for Social Justice

15 Gervais Dr., #305

Toronto, Ont., M3C 1Y8

(416) 441-3714