WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, January 23

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

The WiTOPoli Guide to the #TOBudget

The City budget process can seem overwhelming and intimidating – it’s full of jargon and residents have a small window for having a direct say in the process. So, here’s our guide to make it as easy as possible for you to get your voice heard, and to make the budget work for you. This guide was prepared by WiTOpoli members and municipal politics experts Claire McWatt (follow her on Twitter!) and Neville Park (follow her on Twitter! or check out her website! or even better, crowd-fund her work to make politics more accessible!).

I dunno from budgets – where do I start?

First things first, check out this amazing  WiTOPoli Budget Primer document. It’s got a handy glossary to help you navigate the sea of budget-speak, and breaks down data from the 2014 budget (as taken from the City Manager’s 2014 budget presentation and the 2014 budget outline).

In it, you’ll find information like this, presented in an accessible, easy-to-understand way.

Two Types of Budgets

Okay, I’m ready! Where is it?

The budget will be launched online at www.toronto.ca/budget2015. The City Manager’s presentation will serve as a good overview read, but make sure to keep the glossary page handy! Beware of short forms like “SOGR” (which means State of Good Repair). The Acronym and Abbreviation page is a good resource to help you with this.

What should I know about the City Manager’s presentation?

It’s important to remember that this is a very political presentation, and it should be read critically. The City Manager seeks to ‘sell’ the Budget as it is, and as a result, there is a lot of ‘good news’, and positive content. The same can be said for the Budget Outline (at-a-glance). The goal is to make readers feel their money is being effectively spent, and their tax rate is competitive. Consider in detail points like a constantly falling crime rate, while the Police Budget remains the top expenditure.

I’m ready to go deeper – now what?

If you feel confident, read the background file. There are backgrounders and detailed budget breakdowns for every department, from Community Development and Recreation, to Public Works and Infrastructure. This is where you may find something that has slipped by the attention of the media. Find a department you are most interested in, and focus from there.

How can I let Council know if I see something I don’t like?

Remember, the budget is NOT FINAL. Changes can be made by the Budget Committee, the Executive Committee, and by City Council. You can have a say, too – make a public deputation (pssst, we have a guide for that here), send a written one in for consideration, email your councillor, start a petition … (pro-tip: just make sure in your petitions you collect postal codes, so pressure can be put on individual councillors, as they can see their constituents specifically care for this issue). You can also attend one of these public meetings to make your voice heard…

Budget Town Halls by Councillors

Wards 11 and 12 – Francis Nunziata and Frank Di Giorgio

February 9th, 7PM, York Civic Centre

 

Wards 13 and 14 – Sarah Doucette and Gord Perks

January 29th, 7PM, Bishop Morocco

 

Ward 18 – Ana Bailao

Feb 21st, 1-3PM, Bloor-Gladstone Library

 

Ward 19 – Mike Layton

January 21st, 6:30PM, Trinity Community Centre

 

Ward 31 – Janet Davis

February 9th, 7PM, Council Chambers, East York Civic Centre

 

Ward 33 – Shelley Carroll

February 18th, 6:30PM, Fairview Library

Ward 20 – Joe Cressy

February 23rd,  7:00PM, City Hall, Committee Room 2

Ward 22 – Josh Matlow
March 3rd, 7PM, North Toronto Memorial Community Centre

Ward 27 – Kristyn Wong-Tam
January 31st, 1:00-3:00PM + Participatory Budgeting Workshop from 3:00-4:00PM, 519 Community Centre

This is a working list, compiled as a result of emailing all Councillor’s accounts, and offering them the opportunity to respond. Please feel free to contact us with details about your budget town hall at womentopolitics at gmail dot com.

Social Planning Toronto is also hosting a series of Budget Forums that you can read about here.

The schedule for the full process is:

Budget Schedule

Above all, remember that Budget belongs to Council and, by extension, you. It’s yours to discover! Holler at us in the comments if you want help!

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, January 16, 2015

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • With a disciplinary tribunal currently underway regarding police actions during the G20, a judge ruled this week that Police Chief Bill Blair cannot be compelled to testify. The tribunal is reviewing charges against Supt. Mark Fenton for unlawful arrest and discreditable conduct for ordering mass protestor arrests.
  • After a week in which 4 homeless people died, the city has acquired 20 hotel rooms to be used as extra shelter space if usual shelters reach over 90% capacity.
  • A CBC report revealed that a Mimico condo developer failed to deliver on donations promised to the community, prompting John Tory to question the level of oversight for contributions made under Section 37. When new construction is approved, developers can make donations under Section 37 and it is often left up to the local councillor to decide where the money goes, but there is very little accountability in place to track these donations.
  • The TDSB has one month to respond to a critical report released this week detailing its need to review its governance practices.
  • This week, one of the two young men who plead guilty in the Retaeh Parsons case was only sentenced to one year probation. The other young man was previously sentenced in November with a conditional discharge. Both cannot be named because they were minors at the time crime was committed.
  • After reviewing the misogynist Facebook posts by Dalhousie Dentistry students, Halifax police will not pursue criminal charges.
  • On Monday, a report was released by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, outlining Canada’s obligation to address the socio-economic factors which perpetuate violence against indigenous women. The report emphasizes the importance of working with indigenous women leaders to address these problems, and also supports the call for a national inquiry into the murdered and missing indigenous women.
  • Torontonian Laura Reid is pushing to build a database where users can anonymously self-report their sexual assault experiences. Reid also started the website Whenyoureready.org , an online community where survivors can anonymously share their stories.
  • Health Canada has pushed back its decision on whether to approve an abortion drug called mifepristone. The drug has been used in 57 countries for decades and could provide women with easier access to abortions in remote parts of Canada, or provinces like P.E.I. where no surgical facilities exist.

WiTOPoli Weekly: January 9, 2015

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

 

 

WiTOpoli Weekly: December 19, 2015

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • On December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, a national coalition called on Premiere Wynne and the Ontario Attorney General not to enforce the new federal prostitution law, out of concern about the law’s ability to keep sex workers safe. Wynne has asked the Attorney General to examine the constitutionality of the new law, but in the meantime, Wynne has said that the law must be enforced in keeping with the province’s obligations under the Criminal Code.
  • In an interview with Peter Mansbridge this week, Prime Minister Harper admitted that launching a national inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women “isn’t really high on [his] radar”. Harper went on to claim that “action” is better than more studies, despite the fact that Aboriginal leaders themselves have been calling for an inquiry for months. However, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said this week that she hopes she’ll be able to join a roundtable on violence against Aboriginal women which will happen in Ottawa in February.
  • A Facebook group created by Dalhousie University Dentistry students has since been removed from the site because of the violent misogynist discussions its members had about their female peers. The President of Dalhousie has since delayed the students’ exams and announced that the students will be entering into a restorative justice process.
  • The Toronto Police Service Board held a meeting a Monday to discuss a study on carding prepared by the Community Assessment of Police Practices. At the meeting, many experts criticized the practice and how it is disproportionately used to profile racialized Torontonians. The issue has been deferred to a subcommittee meeting in February.
  • The Nova Scotia Attorney General announced this week that anyone who violates the publication ban in the Rehtaeh Parsons case will not be prosecuted unless her name is used in a derogatory way.
  • A new study by the Broadbent Institute reveals that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor in Canada is much wider than Canadians believe.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, December 12

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

WiTOpoli Weekly: December 5, 2014

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • Tomorrow is the National Day for Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This year, December 6th marks the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam hosts a commemoration today from 12:00-1:00 pm in the Member’s Lounge at City Hall. We’ve also compiled a list of other memorials being held around the city as well as information on a postcard campaign from the Coalition for Gun Control, which was founded in the wake of the Montreal Massacre.
  • Justice Minister Peter MacKay was criticized for remarks he made earlier this week, claiming that the motivation for the Montreal Massacre was unknown. Both Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair were swift to point out that the shooting was clearly an act of gendered violence and needs to be recognized as such.
  • Twenty-five city councillors signed a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, urging her to challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s newly drafted prostitution laws (Bill C-36) at the Ontario Court of Appeals. The signatories expressed concern over the bill’s “danger to some of the most vulnerable women we represent”. The letter will be presented in council today marking the National Day for Remembrance.
  • Mayor John Tory was sworn in this week, unveiling his new Executive Committee and appointing Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong as Deputy Mayor. At the top of Tory’s agenda is his plan to relieve traffic congestion. Be sure to check out Neville Park’s Cheat Sheet on how to keep up with council meetings and upcoming dates to follow.
  • Kathryn Borel came forward this week, identifying herself as one of the original sources in the Toronto Star’s Jian Ghomeshi investigation. Borel reveals how her workplace harassment was repeatedly mishandled by the CBC and how it affected her career.
  • A grand jury declined to indict an NYC police officer this week after the death of an unarmed black man named Eric Garner, despite having video evidence of the officer choking Garner to death. Protesters have been gathering across the U.S., echoing many of sentiments that continue to be expressed in Ferguson following last week’s failed indictment in the Michael Brown case.
  • As a part of the launch of Project 97 this week, Toronto MPP Cheri DiNovo shared her own experience with sexual assault. The Project 97 site was launched by Rogers media in order order to promote “a year-long conversation about sexual assault, abuse and harassment”.
  • The Canadian Labour Congress released a study this week documenting the impact of intimate partner violence in the workplace. The stats reveal how violence affects employees’ work performance and their ability to maintain their job. Ontario is the only province where intimate partner violence is recognized as a workplace safety issue.
  • Maclean’s columnist Scott Gilmore questioned why more women weren’t pursuing political office when their voices are so badly needed. We encourage you to peruse these A+ responses from #cdnpoli voices such as Equal Voice, Lauren Dobson-Hughes, Jordan Owens, Jenn Jeffreys and Vass Bednar.