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Toronto Budget Meeting Shutdown

Activists storm City Hall

by Tim Groves


A coalition of activist groups stormed Toronto's city hall and shut down budget meetings in a protest against cuts being made under Mayor Rob Ford's administration. After shutting down the meeting activists tried follow councillors into their offices. Two arrests were made.

The demonstrators estimated their numbers at 75 people, while mainstream media outlets quoted the number at about 50 people. 

For an update see OCAP's press release from after the rally.

The demonstrators were protesting a series of cuts that are being made including: 

 

* Cutting 41 Bus Routes causing hardship to those who rely on public transit

* Imposing user fees for those using programs at community centers.

* Taking away about 100 beds in homeless shelters per night at a time when
overcrowding in these places is at critical levels.

* Forcing refugees in need of shelter into motel rooms where they will have
no food or access to services.

* Allowing the bloated police budget to grow even more when vital community
needs face cutbacks.

 

“The actions of the Ford administration thus far give a clear indication
that he intends to spend the next four years cutting vital services to the
poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich. It will be a transfer of wealth
from poor and working communities like we haven't seen since the days of
Mike Harris. ” said Liisa Schofield a member of the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty (OCAP).

Although OCAP was trending on Twitter, they were not the only group that organized the protest at city hall. Some of the other groups that helped organize the protest were No One Is Illegal Toronto, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, Community Solidarity Network, Aids Action NOW and Toronto Drug Users Union.

The following text is an excerpt of a press release put out by the Community Solidarity Network about the event:

 

Community organizations are outraged by proposed cuts in the 2011 budget
to homeless shelters, public transit, community centers, and a host of
other services that poor people depend upon for their basic needs. “Rob
Ford ran for Mayor based on the myth that he stands for the interests of
ordinary working people and that he would get rid of the City Hall 'Gravy
Train'.  The first budget of his administration gives us a good sense of
how he defines 'gravy',” says John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty.

With a record 76, 549 people on the affordable housing waiting list in
Toronto, Ford intends to slash spending on shelter beds for the homeless.
The Budget Committee is looking to cut 40 000 shelter beds. “That’s
approximately 100 shelter beds per night!” adds Clarke.

6 000 of these shelter beds will be replaced by motel rooms for refugee
claimants, who according to Ford's Budget Committee, 'need less support'.
The result will be even more isolation and lack of access to much needed
support systems. These cuts are also being announced shortly on the heels
of a $53 million federal funding cut to Immigration settlement agencies
across Canada - $45 million in Ontario alone. "Measures such as these make
the anti-poor and anti-immigrant agenda of Mayor Ford very clear," adds
Yogi Acharya, member of No One Is Illegal Toronto

City councilors recently voted to freeze their budget, not taking a pay
increase. "This is just an attempt to placate the public in order to
facilitate further cuts from those who need it most, and to keep the
funding flowing to those who already receive a disproportionate share,
such as city councilors and the police", says Victoria Barnett, of the
Community Solidarity Network.

Jessica Denyer, from the Community Justice Coalition adds "The police are
getting preferential treatment over the people of Toronto. The police
budget needs to be cut and money put into the programs and services that
actually create strong communities. This could involve cutting policing
programs like TAVIS that profile marginalized communities, contributing to
their over representation in Canada's prison system."

Some of the other proposals in Ford's budget include cuts to 41 bus
routes, which will cause undue hardship to those who rely on public
transit, and an imposition of user fees for those using recreation
programs at community centers.

 

>>>

Tim Groves twitters at timymit

 


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