Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The occupation at the Metro Hall welfare office in Toronto has ended, but the struggle for the 'Special Diet' continues. Here's the story from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
Powerful Action Today at Metro Hall:Call In Tonight to CP 24:
Note to OCAP Supporters: OCAP will be appearing tonight on CP 24's Le Drew Live at 9 pm to talk about the action that took place today at Metro Hall. Please call-into defend the Special Diet and a demand a raise in social assistance rates!
9pm on CP 24
Call: 416-872-2724
Also, footage from earlier today:
Report from Today's Action...please forward widely!
Powerful Demonstration at Metro Hall: More Than 150 People Occupy Municipal Welfare Offices
December 8th, 2009 - Today, starting at 11:30am, members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and more than 150, to at times 250 people, who are struggling to survive on Ontario Works and ODSP occupied the 12th floor and main lobby of Toronto's Metro Hall -the head of Welfare bureaucracy in Toronto.
Despite intimidation, the group refused to leave and instead demanded the right to have their Special Diet forms properly processed. The group was loud and determined - chanting "We won't be quiet 'till we get the special diet!". Social Services responded by vaguely telling the group that they are waiting on 'clarification' from the Province on policy around the Special Diet. They then issued an ultimatum and sent in a large team of police, including ETF, who were preparing to mass arrest and physically remove people from the building. After almost 4 hours, the group was forced to exit the building. But this fight is not over - the group from today has vowed to return with an even larger number of supporters.
The City of Toronto is responsible for administering social assistance, and people in this city are currently being denied their right to receive the Special Diet Benefit. Current Provincial policy states that any medical provider can fill out special diet forms. However, the City of Toronto has decided arbitrarily to refuse to process Special Diet forms from Dr. Roland Wong. In doing this they are refusing to follow Provincial policy and are denying access to essential money for hundreds of families on social assistance in this city.
This comes at a time when more people than ever are being forced to live on welfare in Ontario because of massive job loss and a floundering financial system. People on Social Assistance are forced to live on income levels that do not allow them pay their rent and feed their families properly. Welfare offices do all they can to deny even the small benefits people are supposed to get. We suspect that threats to the Special Diet at this time are a scary sign of cuts to come to social services in the name of 'fiscal responsibility'.
The recent Auditor General's report has served to feed the climate in which such cuts can be made. This supposedly 'arms length public watch dog' has timed his tired old allegations of widespread 'welfare abuse' to help the McGunity Government attack people on social assistance and, in particular target the Special Diet. This program has enabled people to reclaim a part of what Harris took from them and what McGuinty has withheld - and it must be defended at all costs.
It is clear that we are are in a crucial time as we face potential cuts. If we are not prepared to fight back, we can be sure that our situation is about to get a whole lot worse. We need to build even stronger resistance - we need new members to work with us to fight for what we all need. Please come to a meeting and get involved. Help build the fight back.
**Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St.
Toronto, ON M5A 1R6

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