WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, April 3

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.

  • At this week’s city council meeting, council accepted Rob Ford’s apology for his racist remarks but opted not to have the councillor attend anti-racist training. Council also rejected a motion to combine accountability offices, and will seek a third party assessment to review the four accountability offices.
  • The Toronto Police Services Board met yesterday to discuss the practice of “carding”, though the board ultimately voted to defer any decisions of the new rules until its next meeting on April 16th. For more background on the issue, check out these recent pieces from VICE and NOW.
  • Cheri Dinovo’s bill to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth passed its second reading at Queen’s Park this Thursday, garnering support from all 3 provincial parties.
  • The Ontario minister of community safety and correctional services is urging the federal government to reject the recent amendments to Bill C-279, as “it’s essentially legalizing discrimination” for transgender Canadians
  • The Ontario Attorney General concluded its review of Canada’s new prostitution laws, declaring them to be constitutional. Premier Wynne had previously express “grave concerns” as to the laws constitutionality, and coalition of organizations are urging the province not to enforce the new law, for fear that it will continue to put sex workers in danger.
  • Toronto was among several Canadians cities which hosted protests this Thursday to urge a retrial in the Cindy Gladue case. Alberta prosecutors announced they will appeal the non-guilty verdict.
  • As of April 1st, approximately 70,000 temporary foreign workers lost their legal status in Canada, following the new “4 and 4” rule which forces labourers to leave the country after 4 years and wait another 4 years to re-apply for a work permit.
  • Although women are overrepresented in public service, they are noticeably underrepresented among the sector’s top earners.
  • Last weekend, the Broadbent Institute hosted the Progress Summit in Ottawa, including a keynote from feminist gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian. Toronto school trustee Ausma Malik also attended and discussed her views on being a millennial in politics with Maclean’s.

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, March 27

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, September 19

WiTOPoli Weekly: Friday, August 29

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.

  • Etobicoke Centre councillor Glora Lindsay Luby announced she will not be seeking re-election, surprising council in a farewell speech on Thursday. Luby was frequently at odds with Mayor Rob Ford, who called her a “waste of skin” in 2005, and was one of the early voices calling for Mayor Ford’s resignation after his crack-cocaine scandal.
  • Canada’s premiers and aboriginal leaders are calling on the federal government to have key ministers meet with them for a roundtable discussion on the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper ruled out a national public inquiry last week. Michèle Audette, the president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, welcomed calls for the roundtable as a first step in “a new chapter.”
  • After new data was released by a coalition of community activists and social agencies revealing that child poverty in Toronto has reached “epidemic” levels with 29 per cent of children — almost 149,000 — living in low-income families, three mayoral candidates spoke out on plans to combat child poverty, at a forum organized by local advocacy groups.
  • After the integrity commissioner found that Toronto City Councillor Maria Augimeri violated the code of conduct by calling political rival Gus Cusimano a “criminale,” Mayor Rob Ford expressed outrage that Torontonians would be footing the $5,000 bill to cover the cost of processing the complaint.
  • Playboy Magazine published a flow-chart that asks the question: when it is appropriate to catcall a woman in public? (Their answer: when she has consented the catcalling beforehand, or when she is literally a cat.)

Ask Your Candidate: Labour

By: Cherise Seucharan

Issues related to labour, such as wages and employment, are generally governed at the provincial level, but city councillors can still have significant impact on labour conditions. Recently, the Ford administration has claimed the drop in Toronto’s unemployment rate as one of their major achievements, and while this may have been true for the first three years of Rob Ford’s term, statistics show that unemployment has actually been on the rise since May 2014, coupled with increased in the number of precarious workers. Sandy Houston, President of the Metcalf Foundation, which recently released a report on Toronto’s workforce, says that, “The increasing numbers of people working and poor in the Toronto Region paints a troubling picture. When people can’t fully participate in society, it costs us all.”

Women are especially affected by labour policies. The gender wage gap in Ontario is currently 28%, which means female workers earn 72 cents to every male worker’s dollar. Women are also more likely to be employed in the service sector, which is more vulnerable to cuts, and are more likely to be supporting families on their income. Ask your candidate about how they plan to address these issues.

2009 City of Toronto inside and outside workers strike Mel Lastman Square. By CeciliaPang (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A2009TorontoStrikeNY.jpg

2009 City of Toronto inside and outside workers strike Mel Lastman Square. By CeciliaPang (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons.

Do you plan on making improvements to the City’s Fair Wage policies? Will you introduce policies to support the growing number of precarious workers, and address the gender pay gap?

Toronto’s Fair Wage Policy, established in 1893, guarantees that people employed by contractors for the city are paid market wage rates and benefits for their respective fields. The policy needs to be continually updated to account for inflation and other factors, but in 2013 the policy had its first update in 10 years. Despite the fact that wages now take into account the new minimum wage rates and market levels, many of the wage rates still fall below, $16.60, the rate recommended by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as a living wage in Toronto. Ask your candidate if they will push for continuous updates to the Fair Wage Policy, and for wages that take into account the high cost of living in Toronto.

The Fair Wage Policy also represents the type of initiatives that can work with provincial and federal labour policies to improve worker conditions, especially for minority groups. As noted above, women in Ontario still earn less than men overall. Additionally, racialized workers earn 77.5 cents per dollar, while immigrant women earn even less, and are more likely to be working for minimum wage. Ask if your candidate would support expanding these policies to include provisions that help close the gender pay gap and support immigrant and racialized workers.

Would you privatize more city services?

While there are pros and cons to the privatization of city services, deciding to privatize any service would have a major impact on the labour force. With the numbers of precarious workers steadily rising across the GTA, unionized services address this issue by providing steady employment and a living wage for thousands of Torontonians. Under privatization, city workers have less power to negotiate and less protections overall, which have already come under fire during the past few years.

Ask if your candidate aims to privatize city services, and if so, are they willing to prioritize the right of workers in the process.

Does you support funding for Toronto’s libraries and public services?

Cuts to the infamous “gravy train” of funding to libraries and public services often translate to reductions in the staff that keep those programs running. The result is that public service workers have to take on a greater workload with the same resources. Often, full-time positions are downsized to part-time, non-salary jobs. In 2012, cuts to libraries reached a tipping point when Toronto Public Library workers held an 11-day strike in reaction to the increasing funding cuts, which greatly affected the employment of part-time workers (who were primarily women). The strike highlights the need for greater worker protection at these services which benefit many people across the city.

Ask if your candidate supports maintaining or increasing funding to Toronto’s public services.

Ultimately, the candidates we elect to City council are responsible for creating the labour climate that many of the city’s unionized workers will live in for the next four years, from outside workers to parks and recreation staff, from police officers to garbage collectors to library workers. Electing a council that will be fair and just when dealing with labour issues should be a priority for Toronto voters.

 

WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, July 4th

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.

  • At City Hall this week, the Executive Committee reviewed a report on Fare Equity for low-income TTC riders. The issue will receive further attention at next week’s council meeting.
  • Torontoist‘s Desmond Cole urges us to reflect on how Rob Ford’s bigotry impacts the targets of his slurs.
  • Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch wants corporations to voluntary set targets to increase female representation on boards. The suggestion prompted criticism from the the Liberals and NDP who claim the Conservatives have fallen behind in terms of gender parity at Crown corporations and other federal agencies.
  • Toronto has become the first and only municipality to join WBE Canada which connects women-owned businesses with potential corporate partners.
  • Toronto woman Mary Millard donated her $6 million fortune to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, The Toronto Zoo and the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. Other important notes: she loved Jane Austen and would “have been proud to call herself a feminist”.