HPAP Joins Changing Workplaces Review Consultation

The government is reviewing Ontario’s labour laws for the first time in over a decade.

The Changing Workplaces Review involves public consultations on how the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and Employment Standards Act, 2000 could be amended to best protect workers.

report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives demonstrates that there is a growing reliance on low wage, precarious employment in Ontario. The report suggests that the province should raise the minimum wage, require employers to schedule more predictable work hours, set a higher standard for paid leave, and make it easier for low wage workers to unionize.

Health Providers Against Poverty members will be joining the Worker’s Action Centre and other allies at these consultations in cities across the province.

Read the Workers’ Action Centre report, Still Working on the Edge: Building Decent Jobs from the Ground Up, for an analysis of the current issues with the ESA and a full set of recommendations for change.

Andrew Pinto Changing Workplaces Review June 24 2015

Dr. Andrew Pinto, Family Physician and Public Health Researcher, speaking on behalf of HPAP at the Changing Workplaces Review consultation in Mississauga in June.

Press Release: Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy

June 23, 2015

Health Providers Concerned That Toronto’s Twenty-Year Poverty Reduction Strategy Fails To Help Those In Immediate Need

TORONTO – Health Providers Against Poverty (HPAP) applauds the City of Toronto’s release of an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, however we remain apprehensive that this report will lead to real, measurable changes for our patients. While the Strategy identifies several immediate needs, it outlines a vague twenty-year vision. As front-line providers, we see daily the detrimental impact that poverty and income inequality has on our patients’ health and we strongly encourage the addition of bold timelines with measurable targets to the final Strategy.

We commend Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell for prioritizing inequality as one of the biggest threats to Torontonians. We concur with her statement that “systemic change will require embedding poverty reduction into the (entire) culture of the city’s DNA.” The 48-page Strategy, built with input from those impacted by poverty, identifies important values and directions. The report calls for an “inclusive strategy” and acknowledges that “policy choices have made Toronto the most unequal city in Canada”.

The Report cites Toronto’s 2014 success in the construction of 140 affordable rental-housing units, with 655 affordable homes built to date. But, as the report admits, 90,000 households are on the social housing waitlist and over 16,000 people used shelters last year. While Toronto was indeed a pioneer in adopting Housing First, to date only a few hundred individuals have received housing through this project. HPAP encourages the City to provide immediate concrete financial support to those who need affordable housing.

“I have encountered several individuals, this month alone, who are having to choose between buying food, paying for medications, and accessing other basic needs, because they are having to spend the majority of their income on substandard housing,” said Katie Dorman, a physician in Toronto. “Their health is deteriorating while they languish on a ten-year waiting list for subsidized housing in a city as prosperous as Toronto.”

The current degree of income inequality in Toronto represents a crisis that is harming the wellbeing of many members of our communities. HPAP supports the vision set forth in the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, but calls for inclusion of the following in the Final Strategy:

1. Timelines for each priority set out in the report with specific implementation plans and measurable targets for immediate, short- and long-term goals.

2. A cost analysis for each priority and a plan to ensure ongoing funding.

3. A review process to ensure progress monitoring and accountability where targets are not met.

Last night, the Councillors of the City of Toronto and East York proved that in a 3-hour session they could change the face of their part of the city by limiting residential street speed limits. It was incredible to see the city band together to tackle this safety issue. We aspire to all city councillors replicating that fervor and execution on the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Press Release: 2015 Ontario Budget

Apr 24, 2015

2015 Ontario Budget Fails People Living In Poverty

Toronto–Despite the Ontario government’s commitment towards its renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy, the 2015 Ontario Budget contains little that benefits people living in poverty.

“It’s encouraging that the government is not cutting back on prior investments in affordable housing, but we need much more to help the 1.7 million Ontarians living in poverty and the thousands of Ontarians without adequate housing” said Dr. Samantha Green, a family physician who works in Toronto’s downtown.

“I am happy to see the Government continue to explore the concept of Community Hubs, shared spaces for social services, education, and health services.  And I welcome the expanded Youth Action Plan for helping at-risk youth attain employment,” said Andrea Perry, an Occupational Therapist.  “I also commend the Government’s plan to index the Ontario Child Benefit to inflation and would like to see all social assistance indexed to inflation in this way.”

But the Budget does not include any target, timelines, or funding for the second Poverty Reduction Strategy.  There are no new investments towards ending homelessness, one of the Government’s key Poverty Reduction pillars.

The 2015 Budget also includes a hidden cut—an increase of just 1% in social assistance rates beginning in the fall of 2015, well below the rate of inflation.  “We know that poverty makes people sick, and current social assistance rates will only lead to further illness,” said Dr. Gary Bloch.

Contact:  hpagainstpoverty@gmail.com