WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, March 18

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.

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WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, February 26

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: Friday, January 15

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.

  • City Hall held public deputations this week on #TOBudget2016, allowing residents to give their thoughts on how funds should be allocated. Our civically-engaged hearts were aflutter when two sixth-grade girls took the floor to discuss the TTC and Toronto’s tax system.
  • Canada’s first transitional house for LGBTQ youth had its official launch on Thursday, seeking to address the starting rates of LGBTQ homelessness as identified in previous city studies.
  • Toronto woman Ayan Farah is suing the government. The RCMP claims she has connections to a local gang, but have failed to demonstrate what those connections actually are, while the accusation alone has caused her to lose her job.
  • Ontario’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner is calling the province to publicize race-based stats for children in care. Renu Mandhane hopes the data will help the OHRC address why certain populations, such as black and aboriginal children, are overrepresented among children’s aid societies’ clients.
  • York U student Navi Dhanota won her human rights complaint against the school, ensuring that students will not have to disclose their mental health diagnoses in order to get academic accommodation. The OHRC plans to reach out to their institutions to prompt similar policy changes across the board.

 

 

WiTOpoli Weekly: Saturday, October 10

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: Friday, October 10

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.
  • In response to tragic shootings that claimed the lives of three young men this week, six council candidates co-released a statement on how move forward from these events and prevent future violence.
  • A parent has officially complained to the TDSB regarding transphobic comments made by Trustee Sam Sotiropoulus back in August. The letter has garnered 90 additional signatures in support thus far.
  • On Monday, Canada’s new sex work bill passed in the House of Commons by a 156-124 vote. While Justice Minister Peter MacKay believes the bill represents a “paradigm shift” in Canada’s approach to regulating sex work, activist Terri-Jean Bedford believes the law will be found unconstitutional and isurging all opponents to express this to their premiers.
  • The Toronto Foundation released its 13th annual Vital Signs Report shedding light on various facts and figures that could inform city policies. For example, the report found an increasing gap between the city’s rich and poor, as well an increasing gender pay gap.
  • Abortion service providers in Maine have been welcoming an increasing number of clients from New Brunswick since the Morgentaler clinic in Fredricton was closed in July. The clinic was the only private abortion clinic in all of the Maritimes. New Brunswick activists are planning to put pressure on premier-designate Brian Gallant to address the region’s limited access to reproductive services.
  • Check out the Ethnic Aisle’s brand new Election Issue, including an interview with Toronto’s first black female mayoral candidate, Carolann Wright-Parks.

Ask Your Candidate: Public Health

By: Lauryn Kronick

Access to physicians, community healthcare services and programs is essential for Torontonians to maintain a healthy body and mind and to be able to get the care they need. Women, especially those from low-income communities, expectant mothers, single parents, and senior citizens, often don’t have adequate access to the health services they need. Here are some questions you can ask your ward’s candidates about the city’s public health concerns.

  1.    What are ward candidates’ ideas for Toronto Public Health to increase and improve their services and programs for marginalized communities? Last year,Toronto Public Health identified that racialized community members were more likely to experience poorer health outcomes and ‘high priority’ areas show the signs of inequalities of health. This increases the risks of further health complications and disease especially with the common scenarios of over-crowded walk-in clinics that have long wait times. Proximity to transit which connects people to community health centres, accessible programs with flexible hours and more family physicians who have openings for new patients are all issues which continue to affect marginalized communities and should be a priority on ward candidates’ agendas.
  2.    Ask your candidate on how they plan on addressing public health access for street-involved folks and harm reduction services, which are constantly on the chopping block for cuts each year.  It’s no secret that shelters in Toronto are over-crowded, resources are stretched thin and there is a need for a shelter specifically for LGBTQ youth. The 2014 city budget drew concerns that shelter occupancy rates are still at 90%, and city council hasn’t followed through on the promise to bring this number down. For street-involved women and women who need access to harm reduction services, there is room for improvement in moving forward to ensuring that the city’s more vulnerable women in these situations are getting the services and care they need. Are candidates in favour of cutting harm reduction services that are offered through community health centres and AIDS Service Organizations? What are their views on extending resources for street-involved populations beyond the downtown core and addressing homelessness numbers in areas that may be overlooked?
  3. How do your candidates prioritize the health of children and youth? Are they in favour of continuing to support programs that focus on keeping kids active and healthy? Initiatives that focus on healthy and active living,specifically for children, are a great way of encouraging youth to take care of their health in the early stages of life. Student nutrition programs in schools have received sufficient funding over the past few years; does this remain a priority for the candidates in your ward? Youth mental health is one area that’s been largely talked about in the public sphere recently—does your candidate support programs and initiatives that provide support for children and youth experiencing mental health issues?

While Toronto Public Health and The City of Toronto do offer a wide range of services and programs, many of them specifically for women, public health is one of the areas that experiences budgets cuts each year. Each time a program gets its funding reduced, we may not know how much this actually harms the members of the community it affects. Talk to your ward candidate and see where their priorities lie on the public health spectrum and see if they truly have their community’s best interests covered.

 

Ask Your Candidate: City Programs and Grants

By: Lauren Simmons

The City of Toronto funds hundreds of programs for residents and distributes a number of grants to support organizations. Some of these programs are particularly important in making our city as livable as possible for women and other equity-seeking groups, and it’s important to know where the candidates in your ward stand.

1. What are your ward’s candidates’ positions on the City of Toronto Welcome Policy? This policy provides a subsidy to help low-income families access recreation programs like swimming lessons and day camps, and is crucial to increasing access to city programs for all Toronto’s residents. In the past, the Welcome Policy has come under fire at City Hall – as recently as January, when debating the 2014 budget, Mayor Ford floated the possibility of charging an application fee for families who use the Welcome Policy. Ask your potential city councillor where they stand on the Welcome Policy – will they defend it, and at what cost?

2. Where does your candidate want to see the City’s grant money go? The City of Toronto supports organizations that do social, economic and cultural work through various forms of community funding. It is helpful for voters to know which of these grants a candidate supports, and to what extent they want to allocate city funds to these interests. Find out what your candidate’s priorities are when it comes to allocating grants – do they support arts and cultural organizations? Services for newcomers? Community organizations? LGBTQ programs? Environmental groups? Assess your candidates’ grant funding priorities and see if they align with yours.

3. Does the city currently have the funds for the programs your candidate supports/proposes, and if not, where does he/she believe the should money come from? It’s easy for candidates to say that they want to see more money go to improving the tree canopy, or supporting libraries, or LGBTQ youth, but where would they take that money from? Seeing which programs your potential councillors de-prioritize can be just as telling as seeing what they put at the top of the heap, so take time to ask them where you think our money doesn’t need to go.

The various programs and grants covered by the City of Toronto budget are as complicated and faceted as the residents of the city itself, and no one candidate will be able to declare support for all of them equally. By taking time to assess which programs matter to you, to your communities, and to the equity-seeking groups you belong to and support, you can be better informed when discussing these programs with your potential representatives.