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Toronto Month in Review - November Part I

Recapping news from the Toronto area

by Toronto Media Co-op members

Banner dropped from Bank of Montreal during march on the financial district.  Photo: David Sone
Banner dropped from Bank of Montreal during march on the financial district. Photo: David Sone

It was recently revealed that the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) had minutes to a 2008 board meeting retro-actively rewritten. The Toronto Star said “the changes could have been to blur the trail of Conservative government meddling in board affairs and to change parts that were controversial.”

A private developer, Jonathan Kearns, has proposed a plan to demolish Seaton House, the city's biggest homeless shelter. He would like to redevelop the land as "a mix of affordable and market housing, rentals and commercial space," reported the Globe and Mail. He hopes to partner with the city on the redevelopment. No decision is imminent but the local councillor and city staff are supportive of the project. Kearns is also involved in the redevelopments of Regent Park and CAMH. NOW Magazine says "The city has asked for appraisals of all emergency shelters for possible Seaton-like renos."

The City of Toronto will be voting on a possible Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) fare increase on Nov. 17, according to the Toronto Star.  The TTC faces a $100-million shortfall due to inflation and can only make up the lack of funds through fare increases, service cuts or increases in government funding. Adam Giambrone, chair of the TTC, says he will not cut services.

The provincial advocate for children and youth is investigating excessive use of force by staff at a new $93-million youth superjail in Brampton. His initial review found deprivation of food and programming and questionable body cavity searches, reported the Star

About 200 high school students from Northern Secondary School demonstrated outside their school in late October, protesting the arrest of a student earlier in the month and the presence of police patrols inside their school, the November issue of Basics reported. The students demanded public consultation around the initiative to have police patrol their school. Fifty schools are now patrolled by armed Toronto Police officers. 

The executive of CUPE 3903, the union representing teaching assistants at York University, has asked CUPE National to take the union under administrative control. The Excalibur cited financial issues as well as internal conflict within the local as reasons for the takeover. 

Sessional teachers at the University of Toronto reached a tentative deal with the school on Nov. 8, a day before their strike deadline. The Canadian Press says CUPE Local 3902 had been in negotiations with the university since July and filed for conciliation in August after being unable to find common ground on the issue of job security. 

Members of CUPE 3906, the union representing teaching and research assistants at McMaster University, in Hamilton, were on strike for one week before voting to accept the offer made to them by the University, the Excalibur reported. According to Linchpin the bargaining team and the executive of the local unanimously rejected the deal, which includes pay concessions, but members voted 58% in favour of accepting it.   

Toronto will host the Pan Am Games in 2015. The initial budget for the games is $2.4 billion.  

Citizenship and immigration Canada (CIC) proposed a series of immigration-related changes in late October and early November that will affect how foreign workers can operate in this country. The Toronto Star reported that temporary foreign workers will be limited to working in Canada for four years, after which they would not be allowed back for six years. The Ottawa Citizen has reported that refugee numbers for 2010 have been slashed by 60 per cent. In response, organizations across Canada are calling for actions in November. 

The city's municipal election will be held in the fall of 2010. According to The Toronto Sun, the Toronto Board of Trade has "kicked off its Vote Toronto 2010 campaign in an attempt to not only 'steer' election debate, but also to engage the public and guide candidates' policy platforms." 

Fifty Somali moms held an angry protest at the Toronto District School Board demanding their children be able to attend a local school in a largely middle class part of Rexdale, instead of being bused to a school in Jamestown, a neighborhood they consider dangerous and too far from home. After half an hour the trustees agreed to hear the protesters' concerns, reported the Toronto Star.

At least seven hospitals allowed members of their boards of directors to jump the cue to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine. A private health-care clinic is also accused of giving preferential treatment to priority clients who first had to pay $2,300 to become patients, according to the Toronto Star. The province said that once it has a grip on the pandemic it will investigate why the City of Toronto’s medical officer of health gave 3,000 doses of the vaccine to the private clinic, Medcan, reported the CBC. The Star also reported that police commanders including Chief Bill Blair jumped the cue and received the vaccine. The vaccine is in short supply and has been restricted to members of the public at a high risk of contracting the virus.

Mayor David Miller has called out three city-funded arenas for not giving girls and women playing hockey equal access to the their rinks. The Globe and Mail said he spoke out after the city was faced with a lawsuit from the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association.

A Caledonia couple is suing the Ontario government and the police for failing to protect their property during native protests on a disputed development site in the town, Canadian Press reports. The couple, whose property touches the disputed land, says they have been subject to threats and abuse which police have knowingly ignored.

Between 200 and 300 protesters marched in Toronto's financial district on Nov. 5, blocking traffic, disrupting businesses and dropping banners from two different banks, reported Linchpin and the Toronto Media Co-op. Protesters called for an increase to social assistance rates and the minimum wage, reform of the employment insurance system and better access to justice for non-status and First Nations communities. 

Toronto Month in Review is a project of the Toronto Media Co-op, a recently started initiative to write about under-reported issues in Toronto. You can visit our site at toronto.mediacoop.ca. To find out more information, or to get involved you can email toronto@mediacoop.ca 


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