WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, December 4

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.

  • Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau nominally rejected the Toronto island airport expansion in November. The Liberal government, Minister Garneau included, remains firmly against the expansion of the Toronto island airport.
  • A Toronto doctor is making the financial case for opening five supervised injection sites in Ontario – two in Ottawa and three in Toronto. Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi claims that these sites will save money and decrease the number of cases of HIV and hepatitis C. Ontario’s Health Minister Eric Hoskins says that requests for such sites must come from municipalities.
  • Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin confirms that Toronto is the only city in Ontario that is allowed to charge a land transfer tax and there is no planned legislation that would allow other cities and towns to bring in their own tax.
  • Many Syrian refugees who have been offered the opportunity to come to Canada are not prepared to move by the end of the year, but the government is still committed to their goal to resettle a total 25,000 refugees. It has been confirmed that, of the 3318 privately-sponsored refugees to settle in Ontario, 80 percent of them will reside in Toronto.
  • According to a Toronto Star Investigation, drivers seeking their A licence, which is required to drive a truck, have a better chance of passing the road test at rural DriveTest Centres. Following the publication of this information, Transportation Minister Steven DelDuca expressed his commitment to ensuring that all DriveTest Centres are held to the same testing standards.
  • The 2015 Ontario Association of Food Banks Report found that nearly 360,000 adults and children are using food banks across Ontario monthly. Precarious employment, low wages and lack of affordable housing are some of the identified factors that contribute to food insecurity.
  • The Quebec government is proposing a legislation that would require that all firearms in Quebec be registered. Bill 64, the Firearms Registration Act, would impose a fine ranging from $500 to $5000 for failing to register a gun.
  • Three Toronto taxi drivers began a hunger strike at city hall in protest against Uber, which will be covered under city by-laws.
  • As the criminal trial against Constable James Forcillo continues, Desmond Cole argues we need to disarm the police.
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WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, November 6

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.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed 31 new cabinet members, 15 of whom are women. This will be Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet (see the full list here). Plus, check out the TVO blog for some thoughts from WiTOpoli’s Alejandra Ortiz and others on gender parity in the cabinet.
  • Trudeau also announced that the long-form census will be reinstated, a key tool for researchers and city planners.
  • All 40 Toronto councillors endorsed TO Prosperity: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, marking a commitment to reducing poverty in 20 years. However, councillors largely disagree on how to fund the strategy.
  • Ontario elementary school teachers (ETFO) signed a tentative agreement with the province, avoiding a legal strike which would have included an extracurricular withdrawn. Secondary school teachers (OSSTF) employed by the Toronto District School Board, however, are engaging in a local legal strike action, as local issues remain unresolved, but extracurricular activities will not be affected by this job action.
  • Following a Toronto Board of Health report, Toronto councillors vote 34-3 in favour of a motion banning the use of hookah pipes in restaurants.
  • On November 5, Hydro One Ltd. hit the Toronto Stock Exchange with 15% up for sale. The sale of Hydro One shares is the first step in privatizing 60% of the electrical utility organization.
  • Auditor General will release a report by next spring reviewing the $3.75 million given by the Ontario government to three teachers unions for bargaining costs.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, November 14

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.

  • Canadians united on social media to protest the arrival of “pick-up artist”Julien Blanc and urge Canada’s immigration minister to block him from entering the country. Blanc, who sells “dating” seminars around the world for up to $2500 a class, teaches men how to violate women through physical and emotional abuse including choking, drugging their drinks, and “just grabbing” them. More than 2,300 Canadians have signed the petition, and the hashtag #KeepJulienBlancOutofCanada has been used by an additional 1,400 people. Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration responded to the social media campaign, saying that he is “looking at all options and will consider using every tool at our disposal to protect the rule of law on Canadian soil.”
  • Two very powerful Canadian women met for the first time on November 5 in Ottawa. Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose met with 15-year-old activist RachelParent, who has been challenging Ms. Ambrose to discuss the labelling of genetically modified food for over a year. Despite warm sentiments expressed by both women, Ms. Ambrose subsequently stated that she will not be moving towards mandatory labelling as there is currently no scientific evidence that proves GMOs are unhealthy for Canadians. Meanwhile, Ms. Parent held her own press conference on Parliament Hill with MP Murray Rankin, who has introduced a motion for mandatory GMO labelling.
  • Torontonians are gearing up for this year’s What Makes A Man 2014: The White Ribbon Conference. The conference is a two-day discussion focused on redefining masculinity and creating a healthier idea of manhood. The conference will feature special guest Terry Crews, an actor, former NFL player, author of ‘Manhood’, and proud feminist, as well as talks related to Success, Mental Health, Start-Up Culture, Boyhood to Manhood, and Violence Against Women. Jian Ghomeshi, Julien Blanc, and the recent allegations of sexual harassment on Parliament Hill have together sparked a much-needed national conversation on rape culture; the What Makes A Man conference aims to translate this conversation into positive, widespread, and grassroots change.
  • Trigger Warning: Toronto women have been urged to stay safe and be cautious after an attempted abduction in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood. On Sunday November 9th, a 27-year-old woman was walking in the College Street and Brock Avenue area when a man grabbed her from behind and held a metal hacksaw to her neck. Fortunately two men nearby heard her screams and came to her aid, but police have yet to identify the suspect.
  • Toronto Life has released its annual list of Toronto’s 50 Most InfluentialPeople. There are 15 women included in the list of 50, which is a dismal 30%. Here’s hoping to at least a 50% representation next year, ladies.

WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, August 8

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 Metro’s Matt Elliot has updated his colour-coded scorecard on Toronto city councillors’ voting records. Though the gist of the scorecard is to to illustrate which councillors vote more or less consistently with the mayor, it’s also a helpful overview of recent council issues.
  • Following a court hearing this week, two class-action lawsuits will move forward concerning the mistreatment of detainees during the Toronto G20.
  • A new pilot program aims to deliver health care services to Torontonians in multiple languages.
  • Brampton residents were appalled to find anti-immigration flyers in their mailboxes this week targeting the town’s Sikh community. The police are investigating but the flyers likely do not qualify as hate speech.
  • The Conservatives have been criticized for for appointing Dennis Savoie as the Canadian envoy to Vatican City, because of Savoie’s controversial comments about abortion, in which he compared abortion to the 9/11 tragedy. Despite the NDP’s request to withdraw the appointment, the Conservatives maintain that Savoie is entitled to his personal beliefs and promise not to open the abortion debate.

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.