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(en) Canada, Toronto, DAVID MILLER'S 'OPEN DOOR' SLAMS SHUT Cops Remove CUPE/OCAP* Members from Mayor's Office

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 3 Apr 2004 17:37:47 +0200 (CEST)

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On March 30, the 'progressive' Mayor of Toronto, David Miller, showed
that his kinder, gentler facade only goes so far. A delegation of people
from CUPE 4308 and OCAP came to his office to demand that moves
to remove the drop in service for homeless people at 60 Richmond
Street be reversed. They were met with a response that revealed just
how little has really changed at City Hall. For over a year, this drop-in
has been slated for closure but the City has been forced to back off in
the face of the anger of drop in users, OCAP and CUPE 4308.

Senior staff in the Mayor's Office and a hastily summoned bureaucrat
from their hostels department sought to assure the delegation that other
existing facilities would be funded to ensure service levels were
maintained. As is well known, these locations are seriously underfunded
and overcrowded. This negligible extra funding will be unable to replace
the loss of services at 60 Richmond.

A meaningless meeting, set for the following week, was offered to
discuss the 'general issues' but a demand that the closing of the service
be delayed until such a meeting could take place was rejected.

Faced with this stonewalling, the delegation held its ground and refused
to leave the premises. In the late afternoon, an ultimatum was presented
that the Mayor's Office would now close and we would either leave
voluntarily or the police would be asked to remove us. Refusing to
accept such treatment or to accept the impending removal of a vital
service, the delegation held firm. Over a dozen people were charged
with tresspass and banned by City Hall security from returning to the

Three conclusions must be drawn from this episode. Firstly, the new
Mayor is just as linked to the policy of socially cleansing the homeless
out of the downtown core as was his hated forerunner. At a meeting
with OCAP, he firmly voiced his support for the City shelter bylaw, that
allows for only a small number of shelter beds per city ward. For
communities like the downtown east, this means losing what
inadequate shelter servies now exist. The Mayor's support for drop in
closure and a switch to round the clock hostel facilities is part of a plan
to keep the homeless invisible and, ultimately, to drive them to the
fringes of the City as was done in New York.

Secondly, the hopes of some that Miller is going to bring in a Golden
Age of Social Justice for Toronto are sadly misplaced. A few measured
concessions to silence opposition may be implemented but the
pro-developer/anti-poor and homeless agenda that has driven the
politics of City Hall under previous mayors is not about to be reversed
by the present ruling clique.

Thirdly, it's time to face up to the reality that the only real change we
are going to win from City Hall will come about when communities
under attack stand up and fight back. This Mayor talks a line about
dealing with the issues but he closes services for the homeless and calls
the cops on those who oppose him. He and the interests who stand
behind him need to be confronted. Support, endorse and help us
organize to win the following ten demands from the City Government:


Welfare Policies to Keep People Housed

1. Toronto City Council must set an example by refusing to clawback
the child tax credit from Ontario Works participants.

2. Stop handing over information to the Police for 'welfare fraud'
prosecutions and establish a 2% maximum recovery rate in
overpayment situations.

Housing as a Right not an Empty Promise

3. Ensure that enough social, supportive and accessible housing is built
to eliminate the waiting list.

4. Freeze all condo development in neighbourhoods where low income
housing stock is threatened with displacement.

5. Launch a campaign to retrofit empty buildings, starting with
municipally owned 'surplus housing', and ensure the impending rental
unit inspection and repair by-law before City Council is implemented
effectively and immediately.

6. Inject money into shelters immediately, including shelters for abused
women and children. End all seasonal closing of shelter space. Bring the
spaces up to decent, livable standards.

The Needs of Communities vs Law and Order

7. Freeze the Police budget, eliminate Community Action Policing and
put the freed up resources into meeting the real needs of communities.

8. A strict 'Don't Ask' policy for all City workers towards people without
status and no police resources to go into immigration enforcement in
our communities.

9. Repeal all municipal by-laws that are used for 'social cleansing' of
neighbourhoods and the persecution of homeless people, such as 'camp
in park without a permit'.

Community Needs and Access

10. Abolish user fees and restore cuts in services in all municipal
community centres and settlement agencies.
* [Ed. Note: OCAP is an antiauthoritarian direct
action social class struggl initiative.]

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