Happy Holidays York Region

York Region Council refused to trash their vehicles during the transit strike

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. I know it's been especially tough for some I'm sure, including striking transit drivers and their families as well as transit users and theirs. Both are being affected by the lack of action to end this strike, and both are beginning to suffer the effects of having no or limited access to work.

In some cases the Y.R.T. drivers are part-timers, but even those working for supplemental income purposes are doing so often times to keep their houses afloat or simply maintain what they have but were once able to maintain without the extra income. That's what inflation does folks, and when the rising costs begin to outweigh the notsorising income levels then something has to give. Thus the Mexican stand-off which has become the York Region Transit strike.

The strike is taking a severe toll however on those that rely on it for work and every day life connections. A normally reserved young lady of 18 or so is heard screaming  at her lone parent who happens to also have a chronic illness, "You cash poor fuck!", when refusing to cover yet another taxi from their isolated community to her workplace and spoken in frustration about not being able to get to her job again. This recurring household tension is magnified in communities that may be otherwise isolated from most amenities, work or activity centres.

Imagine having your car suddenly not only taken away but your transit to work or food as well and on top you're isolated. Then your phone is disconnected because you've been unable to get to work and back with enough left over to pay it. What would you do? Would you stand for it? I doubt it. Yet they expect these riders to sit by and be used as pawns while their lives are put in turmoil, future school plans are scrapped with no income now able to be saved, kids unable get to high school or dropping out, homes lost and on...someone has to be held accountable for the lives it's destroying!! But who?

If you ask the Regional Council or its Chair, Bill Fisch, it has absolutely nothing to do with them. Nope, they are not in the mix they've arbitrarily decided. Now there's a funny word. Back to that later. At any rate, these fat cat councilors, a mixture of privileged mayors and Regional Councillors who are sworn to look out for all its residents and who are failing them badly, make no mistake, and who also very quickly turned down my proposed resolution to council a few weeks back to leave their cars at home during the strike.

Council's silence speaks volumes and mirrors their record in council of pandering to paying off debts and balancing books on the back of money earmarked or designated for social programs - such as the G.T.A. pooling dollars which they "redesignated" for their own purposes instead of using it for what it was successfully fought for to be returned to York Region from Toronto because we purportedly needed it for our own programs by dozens of honest citizens groups who believed they'd do the right thing. Well they didn't. They've given a pittance to where it was supposed to go while smuggly putting together a balanced budget largely on the back of it in 2011.

Here's an example of how out of touch this York Region council is with reality. Here we have transit riders, presumably many of whom are low income earners, increasingly who may now be facing eviction from their homes because of lost income, yet the rules of the anti-homelessness program that is distributed by the Church of the Salvation Army (lest we forget they are a religion) on behalf of the Region eliminate them from qualifying. That's right the anti-homelessness programs are not open to low income earners and these rules are set out by the Region of York, or so I was told by the local S.A. head Brian Bishop a year or so ago when I asked him to justify why they excluded the lowest income earners from qualifying. I told him they should refuse to distribute the funds under those conditions then. I had been there at the time at the invite of Mr Bishop to follow up on a complaint we'd received from someone who felt their family was treated disrespectfully through their qualification process.

I'll bet many people don't realize that 80% of all the Salvation Army funding for all their programs comes from government sources. Don't take my word for it, I read it on their website. They are like the perfect cross between corporation and charity (they are a church) that gets to walk through unchallenged, and with an American CEO who makes over 3.3 million dollars a year, a well paid servant of the Lord methinks..so be wary of the wonderfullness of charities as solutions for our social ails for they all have issues, and accountability for such is best served through government distribution, not charities that claim to offer dignity through feeding the poor.Give us a break, there is absolutely nothing dignified about how people have to open up their lives to complete strangers in order to simply to access food or extra groceries or toys at Christmas..enough of the government handouts to charities and give it right to the people..because right now they need taxis  to get food and to work and doctors and hospitals and pick up medications - not toys - thousands of which will now sit in warehouses.

Vote for PACCs one minute video contest finalist above One Paycheck Away Here! 

With the transit strike on and snow falling, residents like Dan and Ashley who have to get by in wheel-chairs will feel the pinch too, living in a town with no grocery delivery and taxis that refuse to even if you can afford them, and having to rely on a system that asks them to book a week in advance that he and his girlfriend are unable to take together often, having different kinds of wheelchairs...and on and on..slowly they lose the will to go out..and then the zest for life wains...and did they ask for this life? Perhaps our social programs money could have been spent here so our disabled could lead normal lives. They even have to rely on hoping charities like Neighbourhood Network can fit them in to shovel their driveways. What about those who they can't get to? These councillors, unions, companies all owe a chance at life to these people and it's more than a freakin blip those I've met as the media would have you believe, but it's been a ship sinker.

This strike could have gone to arbitration which is a fancy way of saying someone who'll negotiate a compromise which is then binding, but Dictator, ah, I mean Chairman Fisch and his cohort band of merry councilmen and women) and mayors are holding steadfast and likely secretly drooling at all the extra money they think they'll have to spend at the end of this. My seeing this on the council's last meeting agenda about how to spend it, was a reminder that they are saving millions a month on the backs of the poor during this, and no wonder they are trying to distance themselves.

Sorry dudes and dudettes, you made the original deal, you fix it. If you want I'd be happy to step in and negotiate as I'm trained in group facilitation and experienced at bringing parties of differing views and opinions together with a positive result - such as our P.A.C.C. hosted and york Region approved social audit "Behind the Masks.. testimonials from those marginalized by income"of which it seems few, if any of the recommendations, have yet to be acted on.

Well I can tell you one thing..come election time each and everyone will be held accountable, so maybe this was the shake up we needed to show this council for what it truly is which is certainly not one that is doing all it can for its most vulnerable residents - true signs of any sick civilization used to privilege. Yup the beginning of the end for them methinks..and definitely the smug Dr Dolittle himself Chairman Fisch.

Curious to note The York Region Food Network, the one true ally in the fight against social injustice in York Region, even though their connection is food related, has been apparently evicted from the Inn From The Cold Building by the Inn From the Cold people..Hmmm..WONDER WHO PULLED THAT STRING! At any rate I hope this doesn't now jeopardize the fresh foodbox programs and the regular Thursday food and supplies distribution the PACC has been running for several years now...we'll see..looks like someone wants to be headmaster!

P.A.C.C. in cooperation with some community groups including from Bray and Mulock community associations along with P.A.C.C. distributed Y.R. Food Network's food boxes, and an anonymous toys/clothes donor, were successfully able to provide toys, food, fresh food, toiletries diapers, supplies etc for several communities for distribution and neighbourhood xmas parties which was very appreciated - especially by those mothers without vehicles to transport the supplies and who may of had to spend much more than usual of their xmas budgets in just getting around over the past months.

Y. R. Food Network's Yvonne Kelly & Director Joan Stonehoecker speak at Int Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The friends of the hungry have been squeezed out of  510 Penrose, the wannabe York Region "hub" for poverty issues. They were the only advocate for the 'poor" in that building, to the rest they are 'clients", "cases"and 'patrons"..too bad.

Special thanks to P.A.C.C.ers Linda and Kristine who were both instrumental in making sure people accessed the Christmas and holiday goodies and that a good time was had by all!

Tom out!

Minister Hoskins Informed York Region Strike Inconvenient Only

P.A.C.C. generated report pictured above about the York Region Transit strike on C.B.C.

Occupy Newmarket at Yonge and Eagle St Sat Dec 10

Whew! Where to begin? Maybe with the guy on the street riding his bike, who explained to me that he couldn't get to work (Toronto/Bradford) or now afford presents for his kids for xmas and asked what is he to do? Some are thinking "we have toy drives" I bet. That's because we've been slowly brainwashed into believing that's an accepted solution. Charity is not the best way. Maybe he wants to be able to pick out his own presents that his kids actually asked for, and with his dignity fully intact, or you know, perhaps experience the joy of getting something for someone you picked out especially for them! Want to rob people of that feeling? Well, that's what charitable solutions do. Or how about the Mom I met who's kids and self haven't seen her husband for over 2 weeks because they have to stay at friends' homes in order to get the kids to school, as they live in Richmondhill and school 15 miles away in Aurora? And what about those arts school kids who the school board refuses to bus, even though they live in some cases 10's of miles away? What of them in all this?

The local mainstream media would have you believe that transit riders blame the drivers, with one penning "having searched the blogs it seems most are against the drivers", as Y.R.M.G. Writer, I believe David Fleischer put it, or something to that affect. Really? Because we've been blogging about it for months now, and we blame the Y.R. Council mostly as they made the deal that got us into this mess, then sit back on their hands? Remember us? P.A.C.C.? The voice for low income residents in York Region? The ones who attracted and Hosted (RE: Coordinated), Co-convened and Co-authored York Region's only ever social audit this past year called 'Behind The Masks testimonials from those marginalized by income" that the York Regional Council adopted recommendations from, and that the Ontario wide I.S.A.R.C. Social audit referenced extensively in its own report, Persistent Poverty, voices from the margins, citing the quality of the York Region collected data? That P.A.C.C.! He obviously didn't follow our blogs or videos or any P.A.C.C. video reports...Get with the program buddy! We don't care who ends it just do! Do it now! This council knew it to be a problem all the way back to 2008 when they also had a shorter transit strike and did nothing since. Am I the only one finding it ironic that the council meeting agenda included how to spend all the savings being made from the strike - on the backs of the lowest income earners who are getting shafted!
P.A.C.C. Chair Tom Pearson got an ovation from a packed Regional Council chambers including union members on Thursday after asking for a resolution that Council leave their cars at home for the duration of the strike as a means to speed up the process. It was declined.
They are doing a good (snow) job though because I had an opportunity to speak with the newest guy in charge of the poverty reduction plan today at the Ontario government's Poverty Reduction Strategy's Third Progress Report in Toronto. The usual yes-people were there like The Daily Bread Foodbank's Gail Nyberg and other hanger's on and of course new in-house converts the 25in5club, of which I was once a believer in myself. Too bad they chose selling out over truth.

Speaking of which, truth is the management of YRT / Viva has been terrible from the get go, with a big U.S. style city transit guy bringing in a goonsquadlike security force to a system that seemingly never needed one before - and this only after implementing the youth and homeless trapping 'honour system" that allows people to walk on without interaction with the drivers, thus eliminating the common greeting a driver & rider might have, like people in in towns do, which is what make up York Region, towns, and in them town-folk. Remember them? The robotlike Viva line is certainly not tailored for the rider experience and connects to a YRT system seemingly designed to takes someone up to 21/2 hours to travel a distance that takes 10 - 15 minutes by vehicle because they can't simply schedule connecting buses which is outrageous, and no wonder it doesn't grow, if not for the Yonge St. every 15 minutes, rush hour, VIVA cash cow.
The same day I met the new Minister in charge of the poverty reduction strategy I got his xmas card!

At any rate, I took the occasion to mention the transit strike to the Honourable Minister of Children and Youth Services, Dr. Eric Hoskins, who has been appointed charge now of the poverty reduction strategy for the Ontario government and that it was destroying some families literally, affecting kids who needed access to schools and jobs for not only xmas presents but for education costs as well. He responded that he was grateful to hear the passion in my voice because the Minister had been under the impression that the transit strike has been nothing more than an inconvenience to some! He also asked when it was that I'd made the deposition regarding the Y.R. transit strike to council and I told him of course last week. Really? An inconvenience? Reminds me of a movie title - The Inconvenient Truth - I made sure he knew it was more than that, but couldn't dwell on the point too long because A) he's not really the guy to target to make waves for that issue and B) We were there (5 strong) to represent the Put Food in The Budget campaign and I wanted to stay on track. I later found out the Minister's background is a medical one, he's a newcomer to politics and he has run charities in the past...so I guess you know which way our social programs are leaning - towards charities taking them on which should be a government responsibility. I hope I'm wrong on this one.

In fact a whole section in the pamphlet for the poverty reduction strategy called " Breaking The Cycle - the Third Progress Report - in which they boast to have lifted some 34,000 children out of "deep poverty" in 2009 etc - is about new "partnerships" but leaves out the stuff like the cost of living increases outstripping rate raises and single people still being hung out to dry by the system, and the fact that assistance rates have never returned to pre-Harris 22.5% cuts social assistance rates since the Ontario Liberal's stepped in.. still!

P.F.I.B.'s Mike Balkwill, one of whom we all strategized with about what to do at this soiree in terms of approaching the subject matter inside, had an excellent exchange with Minister Hoskins asking him to "Do The Math", a questionnaire budget type of exercise designed to educate politicians to real costs to people, to which I believe he got a form of commitment and went on to ask for support for the $100 Healthy Food Supplement - the exchange all of which I captured on camera! Unfortunately it's digital tape so you'll have to wait until I can transfer / post it! Ha..But it's textbook stuff ....Advocacy 101!

Watch our PACC Channel video and upcoming report on the growing trend of low income earners having their lives controlled by government interference including our seniors and residents with disabilities!

Now should I win the Canadian Labour Congress One Minute video contest with my entry ONE PAYCHECK AWAY which is one of only 5 FINALISTS from across Canada..because you keep voting for it up until January 20 2012
then I can buy new equipment and post the goods immediately with clarity! Vote for it every day up until Jan 20 and win a chance to win a trip!!! Okay I made that up..but we need the equipment as we get no government funds!!Ha! Hey it's one way to fund raise!

Tom out!

Giant Christmas Card For Dalton Mcguinty Courtesy of the P.A.C.C. backed Put Food In The Budget Campaign

Occupy Transit Stops

Sign at "Occupy Newmarket"
 Please view PACC Channel's 60 second video above One Paycheck Away and vote for it in the Canadian Labour congress Contest via the link!

Hey, if you think about it, occupying a bus shelter or a 'wack" of them is not such a bad idea. I'm not sure it resonated with the Occupy Newmarket group at the recent 3rd official meeting which was held at Newmarket's Fairy Lake Park and then again unofficially at the C.U.P.E. offices the following Sunday for an event billed, "Why Occupy?", an event that's intent  I suppose, was to encourage people to join in answering that very question through a Q and A session. From my understanding - I don't know because I didn't attend - the Sunday unofficial meeting included a few people from "Occupy Toronto" who had come up to share visions I suppose, and help discuss a direction that this movement can all take together in one form or another. Even the "Occupy Aurora" group has joined the fray. Perhaps the world will unite on this, who Knows? At any rate, to my knowledge the bus shelter occupy idea has not been put forward for action (yet), but it was a heck of an idea (mine of course ha!) especially since they're not being used with this transit strike on.

Occupy Newmarket occupies a bus shelter Sat Dec 10 2011

  Like why not set up an occupy for example I thought, in the bus shelter in front of York Region head-quarters, as it would symbolically encompass many of the issues the occupy movements seem to be about such as youth who are losing out on getting to school or even to part time jobs for Christmas season, since they've now missed out on being able to obtain one now and even if they were lucky enough to have a job will likely be sacrificing half their night's wages in cab fares . It doesn't help that the town of Newmarket allowed for a fare hike for cabs last year (during a recession no less), which the lower income earners mostly use as is... and let's not even bother mentioning the countless people who have lost jobs, work, or even homes now because of this strike. Those trying to access the hospital or Doctors in non- emergency visits or for loved ones have also been affected and left to fend for themselves and, unfortunately, not everyone can afford $50 two way rides from taxis which is another outrage. But hell, with the price of parking there, I don't know which is worse. The growing gap between rich and poor would also be part of the symbolic mix, and as well the lower wage and middle class workers who mostly use their transit service with many now feeling the crunch like never before. The lack of action shows blatant disregard and discrimination against lower income earners if you ask me. The entire York Regional Council,  especially Chairman Bill Fisch is to blame, as the union offered to go back to work if they sent it to arbitration, yet still York Regional Council does nothing and refuses to use this, or any route towards ending it, before more people are devastated by it like the "kid" who came to my door for a box of food for his mom last night because they have no car and no food and she could not get to work on time consistently so lost her job. The kid works too - for a minimum wage seasonal contract job - to which I'm not sure how he's managing transportation but the look on his face as he had to "stoop" to asking for food for his mom was enough to remind me why I stay on this "mission", that seemingly has become an ingrained part of my life.
Occupy Investment in Kids not War at Occupy Newmarket Day 1
People were not allowed to have owner-ship in more than one corporation when they were first started in the 1700's
 There is no doubt we need to survive in this world and to do that people must be able to do business, whether through barter or funds or what have you, but the expectation now seems to be to have people carry a debt load.What ever happened to one income families being able to own a home or low income earners being able to live in a place that left them enough to afford a place to live, with enough left over to actually live!? My father came to this country as a skilled person, as he was trained in making dentures, and he wasn't allowed to do that here ( hey some things never change!) but he was still able to buy a home in time, from sweeping floors in a factory.

 Today you cannot even be sure of long term employment it seems since many and much have been replaced by contract work, part time and temp jobs which don't have to abide by the same rules as full-time workers and you are essentially left to your own devises between jobs and they do not have to give you full time hours. Gone are the days of knowing you'd be working one job for one company for a long time. 

 Recently a guy I was able to get a "job" for, someone down on their luck and on the verge of the streets, and I got him a position which lasted 8 months at which point my colleague's company lost the contract. That worker was then left on his own and didn't qualify for employment insurance..he subsequently hit rock bottom (again) before a few months later the contract was returned as the newer lower bidding company had failed to deliver...and back he went...but for how long this time? And how much can someone making $13 an hour save in case it happens again in this climate with inflation climbing at 3% yearly and wages essentially frozen but for incremental increases begrudgingly given by "our elected government"? Is this what we asked for or expect? Is this fair? I think this is what irks the base of the "Occupy Movements" too, because many, many people are just sick and tired of the status quo bullshit they / we're fed...I mean it's become "the norm" to know certain "promises" will be broken once elected - it's accepted as "normal"? Well I don't find it "normal", as well as the more and more I hear about how things are run and how they're all about image and photo-op / branding with messages that are more like an ad campaign of a corporation model, it really, really irks me.

 A Corporation is made up of a group of people lead by a board who have one common main goal which is to make as much profit as possible for its shareholders - by law!- over all other concerns - including environment or community  concerns.  In actuality, corporations are faceless, soulless entities that have the legal standing of a person. Not everyone is aware of that, but it's true ever since a group of smart lawyers had them declared so back in the 1800's. Why it's never been challenged is beyond me. Smart lawyers were also instrumental in using laws such as Bill c140 - enacted to protect blacks from being dispossessed of their land - for corporation use. The 1st year of this law, that was tabled to help blacks, out of 287 claims only 17 were from Blacks, the rest by corporations! Somehow these corporations that were first started as a gift for the people to assist in times of war for bridges, and ship building, & that no one was allowed to have ownership in another corporation of have somehow morphed into what we have today.

 So no, a corporation is not a fun clown like Mcdonald's image or an nice old man like Wendy's or a Rice Crispy "Snack Crackle Pop" guy...No, that's all for convincing you to trust their product...so it's whole premise is based on selling you on a false image. Where did everything get so twisted?

 We need to back away from a corporate government model that I know. Instead of more private partnerships we need less...I want to be living in the Town of Newmarket again - not the Corporation of the Town of Newmarket...Foodbanks get 80% of their donations from corporations who are embraced by people like our minister in charge of the Ontario poverty reduction efforts, who had a photo op with the president of Cambpell's Soups last summer, as they celebrated a 'donation" to the hunger fight' - via soup sales that gave a kick back of cans of soup to food banks in return and makes the corporation look wonderful in doing so, and I guess the minster too..or so she thought, as they seemed to have back-tracked from that a bit..likely a recent Harvard Study which showed those eating canned soup vs fresh had 1,121 times more levels of harmful diabetes and heart disease causing Bisphenol A. Try more money people, it works much better.
Food for thought!

more "Occupy" messages
Strike won't affect this stop much running until only 7:30 pm ..good luck enjoying the new downtown evening riders!

Later, Tom

PACC Report "Occupy Newmarket" Day

This PACC report is a wake up call to the federal, provincial and regional governments to end the York Region Transit Strike.

York Region Transit Strike

As a result of an ongoing six week strike by the York Region Transit bus drivers, I started supporting Occupy Newmarket. Sounds crazy but halting public transportation affects alot of low-income people and those that can do something about it don't seems to care. Who do these people think they are? High school kids can't get to school, people depending on public transportation cannot go to work, elders running out of food ... It's ridiculous that neither the York Region Council nor the striking bus drivers will even entertain the thought of going to the bargaining table. SIX WEEKS!! That's enough now. Fred Joly

Occupy Newmarket Facebook Profile Picture

York Region Christmas Dinners Vouchers

I know about the Christmas voucher that the Salvation Army gives out but does anyone know of others. I was hoping to attend a couple of the Christmas dinners that are hosted at York Region churches, community dinners what not. It would be nice if we could compile a list here of places for low-income people to go during the holidays.  Do the food banks give out extra food for seasonal supplies?  Maybe a place to get a few small gifts like toiletries etc. Fred Joly

Videos Occupy Newmarket

Please see the PACC News / Report - short news-like clips includes transit strike, "Occupy Newmarket", humourous corporate info!

Day 1 - http://youtu.be/vVeTWGY4vfQ

Day 2 - http://youtu.be/mj_3wIp6SAw


PS Despite the transit strike some are still asking to meet regarding xmas drives/food /youth road hockey event etc so we'll look to do so soon..when is good for people!?
Occupy Newmarket on Facebook

Occupy Newmarket Transit Strike Meeting

Saturday November 19th 2011 at Fairy Lake.

Video produced by TP. It's absolutely hilarious. He plays about 20 different recognized characters in a 60 Minutes style presentation. Some tough opinions but funny nevertheless.

Occupy Newmarket Video

Strike... what strike?!

As the York Region Transit strike moves into a 3rd week, those workers and kids needing to get to their destination workplaces and schools, have been nothing more than an afterthought it seems...no outcry from our main-stream media for transit workers to end their strike...no indications from the regional government  to end it or declare it an essential service - like Toronto did....What's wrong? Aren't our transit users as important or their survival as essential as the city folk!?..Or is it just that we in rich York Region are composed of mostly car users as opposed to local transit users, and therefore we don't have to care enough?....It should be an even more vital a service in suburbia as far as I'm concerned, especially for those communities isolated from schools, amenities, food or any non Y.R.T. transit station. Ironically only Conservative M.P.P. Frank Klees seems to be saying anything about it politically. Everyone else keeps playing the don't look at me game.

I don't know what they could possibly be striking about anyway as YRT is quite possibly the worst service I've ever experienced and I've taken it often and ridden transit systems right across Ontario. Frequently with connecting routes on the YRT that run every hour and drop you to wait another 45 minutes to an hour for a connector often without a shelter..I've had it take me 3 hours to travel a 10-15 minutes car ride distance... or after getting in town from work taking up to an hour and a half to get home. Ridiculous...and the newest Y.R.T. drivers are often rude and seem more interested in picking up green lights than passengers ....one driver stops daily while already running 10 minutes late to use the bathroom at Tim Horton's on Yonge St because it's apparently better than the one at the Go terminal she tells me..nice perk, er I mean perc., ha...and that route already runs only once per hour...on strike!?...Ha!

The VIVA drivers of course have no conversations with you whatsoever eliminating friendly hellos with their "honour system" designed to criminalize and sentence our poor, young, and homeless to lives with bad credit ratings for daring get warm in the winter, and which it's personnel has been boosted in recent times by an apparent influx of transit security police, not previously needed, who last summer delayed me an hour for simply insisting on full time on my transfer...sure I got an apology...but tell that to the meat, ice-cream, and milk that spoiled...where's my payback? I was treated like a criminal for insisting on my full fare value for which there was no argument in the end...just a driver having a bad day wanting to take it out on someone was my best guess...until I played my P.A.C.C. card. They've since changed the transfer system to a digital timed one now which eliminates the manual option and the little discretion a nice driver may have had in the past to give a few more minutes on a system you never every minute for! It's become a sad, face-less transit system with an even sadder direction in which it seems to be going ...the only reason the service has increased in number of riders in 2010-11 is because they now offer 15 minute interval runs up Yonge St to Finch Station which is convenient, but connecting a bus(es) home in a timely manner once back in your town is another thing entirely....This service does not warrant a raise and needs a new manager to run it as the guy they brought from the U.S. and his crony security cops style of service is not the Canadian way. This is not Boston city. He also has no concept of priorities it seems.

Over the summer they quietly changed some routes again....meaning chopped them..like the route 53's 6:20 a.m. run which connected remote Bathurst St. dwellers in Newmarket to work and schools and amenities. What were those people supposed to do that relied on that? Did you not know the route covered an area rife with low income earners? This route is changed constantly as well it seems so how do they expect to grow ridership?...One man I spoke to last year was late for the 1st time in 12 years after another one of the silly route 53 changes which, when changed, made him miss his usual connecting bus....and this without any strike!! And did they need to cancel completely their transportation to Walmart Sundays too for those working there? And shorten the last bus time so students from the mall can't catch it home after work whereas before there was one more that ran? Those workers can't afford the 30 buck cab fares on the wages paid ... even with a union! That is, short of labour laws that ensure they make a living wage so they could afford a car to drive...and to top it off Y.R.T. already charges more than the T.T.C. which offers much better and frequent service with talk of another fare raise in early 2012.Please! Improve your service and you'll improve your ridership and in turn more revenue. Just gouging the poor riders for more doesn't cut it. Terrible service. Terrible planning.

York Region..Shame on Oct 17

Lack of politicians present prompted this man to speak out
Robin Wardlaw losing candidate for Aurora Newmarket provincial election

Tom Pearson of PACC generates story in media  TV and newsprint of homelessness resulting in unprecedented response.

Oct 17 2011 Fairy Lake Park..she got some hot soup, free entertainment and company!

Hip Hop Group Krhyme Syndicate
Oct 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a day you would think the "do-gooders" and agencies representing clients with low income issues etc would want to be a part of?! This inspirational day was started in 1987 in France, in front of 100,000 people from all continents and all social and economical backgrounds who had gathered at the United Nations Troscadero building to give a voice to those without one so often. Oct 17 was recognized by the United Nations in 1992 and has been adopted around the world as THE day to set aside to give serious thought to our strategies on reducing and eliminating poverty around the world and offering a voice to it. It's a shame York Region is not pulling her weight.

For the past 5 years PACC has had to organize an event to ensure it's continued marking of this important day but with few local agencies in attendance this year, and even fewer information booths, one has to wonder. The one "ally" if you will which seemed to really recognize it's important significance, The York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, is now defunct leaving the York Region Food Network, with its loose affiliation to low income issues through food as PACC's only "partner" in actually making changes for the better of the people in income crisis.

Perhaps it's not important to some organizations (or churches) to participate but it is certainly to your "clients", so we suggest you help them out and earn the grant money you're likely receiving by putting in a few hours at the internationally marked event next year when it's moved to more accommodating location at the north side of Fairy Lake in the newly dubbed "Riverwalk Commons". They are people to us, not clients or cases....and perhaps the Mayor will make it out next year...nice to see Deputy Mayor John Taylor again who showed and spoke without being prepped and attending on his own merit it seemed to me, but where were the rest of the politicians as one observer asked me. It actually inspired him to speak on our microphone which he hadn't planned, wondering aloud about the absence of the mayor among others and politicians in general.
Composer Singer Fred Joly

Youthful Signage..See video regarding kids needing buses to school and how the transit strike affect these kids.http://youtu.be/7FlNrLIInlk

Fred plays from heart and sings from experience

New ideas emerged that day..and new groups sprouting..

Collaborate This!.......Oct 17 Coming To a Community Near You!

Author, Senior, and long time outspoken local resident Ivan Propovchuk returns to speak for 2011 event.
 Newmarket MP Lois Brown will not be attending the Oct 17 as she will be in Ottawa. She last attended in 2009. Inquiries to have a federal representative offer an update on Canada's obligations to the UN agreement to end child poverty went unanswered.

I figured with Oct 17 around the corner, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I should blog something - if not to remind people about the significance and importance of this day which was started some years ago by a French Priest,  Joseph Wresinski, who came from poverty and who unveiled a commemorative sculpture at the Trocadera Human Rights Plaza on October 17, 1987, in front of 100,000 people from every social background and continent. Known as the World Day to End Extreme Poverty, the day was recognized by the United Nations as the International Day for The Eradication of Poverty in 1992.

PACC actually kicked off it's existence on that date in 2004 and subsequently has held an event every year since in York Region to try and instill a sense of obligation that we as a community have to change things. The hope was also to attract organizations on the same page in hoping better for people, and perhaps assisting to that end. A great opportunity also was the thinking for some of that collaboration we hear so much about as a buzz word. Oct 17 is marked by simultaneous events worldwide, resulting most recently in setting world records in successive years for those standing at once against poverty with over 20 million standing and pledging at once!Yet in York Region we have struggled to get organizations or even churches to attend, assist, participate (or donate) to ensure their voices or those in their programs or care or guidance are given the opportunity to be heard and a shot at dignity.

Election Banter and Oct 17 Int Day for Erad of Poverty

 This Poverty Free Ontario sign along with numerous others somehow disappeared in the past weeks.
 NDP candidate Robin Wardlaw (above) inserted himself in poverty reduction efforts while still a reverend by getting involved in the Put Food In The Budget campaign months before even deciding to enter the political arena. I believe his absolute disbelief at the lack of effort or care our politicians seem to have with those in poverty was a major deciding factor in his decision to run.

I was told the other day by a colleague, yelled at in fact, that I should always vote for the party when voting not the person. He was incredulous, almost frothing at the mouth in fact, that I could even entertain such a thought. Really?

I tried in vain to explain that I believed there were those that run because they care, and those that run because they care about power and ego and their party before the concerns that the locals have even come into play. I explained that I believe some people are more inclined to actually represent the people's will to their respective parties than others, and some seemed bound to or unwilling to listen to anything that went against their (party's) ideology or "plan".

For example several years ago, while a relatively newish naive PACC Chair, I met with Conservative MPP Frank Klees (and others) in a series of meetings called " A Square-table on Poverty" where we brought a succession of people who were living on low income and who all had unique circumstances that brought them there. The idea for the square-table was to bring various levels of government together to see if we could hammer out some solutions, but no matter what we did or brought to the table it seemed, nothing concrete ever got done. Of course it was around the time that then MP Belinda Stronach had famously walked across the floor to the Liberal Party, still we had her officially on board as well, although she sent only sent representatives in her place after the initial meeting. Regional Councillor John Taylor and various others including Georgina's Mayor Rob Grossi, Councillors from Aurora council, Newmarket and East Gwillumbury also attended and it was driven by live testimonials from those living in poverty. Residents involved included everyone from single moms surviving cancer, to wheel chair bound recipients, to those with mental health issues etc who came in to share their personal stories often tragic or embarrassing - something lost in the whole process - with the hope and trust that this grouping would accomplish something towards change. How naive was I? All MPP Klees would say as a solution was "Just give them a job" which in itself showed his lack of understanding of the issue as well as his lack of compassion I felt. I tried to explain that even those that can work are not guaranteed out of poverty at the current minimum wage and with all the contracting and temporary jobs replacing "real" jobs. I met a steely gaze.A recent review of the 905 area candidates by a Toronto Sun scribe who claims to know York Region said, "Frank Klees is ridiculously good at his job". If his job is being a slick politician that avoids doing anything from election to election by constantly putting down the opponents and speaking eloquently then he'd be right, but I always thought being a good MPP meant representing the constituency well - and unless you have autism or a stash of money I don't see it.

During the square-table, MPP Klees offered up that the owner of a favourite restaurant he attended liked our (wheelchair bound PACCer Dan's) idea to start a bottle collections and recycling company which we'd then use to enable guys like Dan with limited motor functions to work, as he would have "received" the bottles after collection. The restaurant had apparently agreed to come on board as a client to help get it started but it never happened. Now I can't blame the MPP completely on this particular failure though, as Stronach's attending representative also had a hand in it by not coming through with a promise made to set up the initial meeting with the restaurant even after repeated prompting by myself. At that point, when it became apparent that this "square-table" was not functioning as a solutions based body but just making it look like we were accomplishing something all the while collecting media brownie points for participating, we ended it.

It was apparent almost from the outset that MPP Frank Klees was not going to play ball with anything resembling solutions when it came to poverty. Recently we met again in 2011 when we invited him to "Do The Math", an action oriented exercise designed to inform and engage politicians about how some people are barely able to afford food and after he agreed people got little he offered up food stamps - a U.S. style of feeding the poor - as a solution. When told this creates have and have-not food centres, stigmatizes, and is undignified he said, " Tom, you and I could go back and forth all day and we're not going to agree". Enough said, he knows better than the thousands living day to day, some slowly falling or sinking (and adding cost to) into our mental health care system. Thanks for the compassion and understanding Frank. The media write-up about the "Do The Math" exercise - like what they did with the square-table on poverty - painted Klees as a willing participant for change, which from my experience was a farce. Even just recently, prior to the election candidates roll-out, Klees was quoted as saying "Poverty will certainly be an election issue". He and his party have not mentioned it since, nor announced any plan. I personally believe that YRMG poverty writer is a closet Conservative.

Now some are likely thinking that PACC is supposed to be non-partisan - which we are - but frankly (no pun intended) when a "leader" won't listen to the residents he's supposed to lead at all, without room for flexibility because his party (or he) are against it, then something is broken in our system. I believe they should be representing the people first and the party-line second. Besides these are just my observations and conclusions - you can all draw your own.

Who else is in the election race in my area of York Region?...Well there is also the Liberal Christina Bisanz whom I have heard little about. They have not contacted us (PACC) or me personally as a voter so I have not much to go on, except she was quoted in the local paper as having "hands-on experience with people in poverty" from her "volunteer" board position with Belinda's Place. That's very noble and the shelter thing is very "sexy" in the realm of volunteering, however one problem...that shelter isn't even built yet so what kind of "hands-on" experience is that? Bisanz also goes on to quote false / misleading information and statistics about homelessness in York Region to make her volunteer position seem even more noble. Now I don't know anything else really about this candidate, but when what I do know are exaggerations and misleading info I know enough - at least for me personally - to make a decision because I vote for the candidate. Integrity means something to me, and when I see politicians or in this case wannabe make statements with part truth and part falsehood and spun to make them look better, then they get automatically crossed from my list - regardless of party. They actually had a chance with me. Not now.

The Green Party Candidate I know absolutely nothing about..in fact I wasn't even sure a Green candidate was running here until a couple weeks back and to date have seen only 2 roadside signs for them so I'm not sure how serious they are in this.Regardless, if the guy called me up so I could get a feel for the kind of person / character he was then candidate Kristopher Kuysten would at least have a shot.

The last candidate in my electoral riding, Robin Wardlaw is an ex- church minister at Trinty United church who, when still a reverend, would attend socially conscious meetings designed to influence change and often engaged his church in understanding more and helping more those in need. Under his watch the local homeless were allowed showers daily and hosted a free lunch Tuesdays to feed some of our hungry. Wardlaw also was a catalyst in getting a homeless father and son some work painting at the church which led to the duo getting a work reference and more work. PACC ultimately got involved and found the father a full time job so I witnessed this first hand. (Then) Rev Wardlaw,  was able to identify that by enabling these two homeless guys he was assisting everyone and that it was not solely a "good deed" on compassionate grounds, but also one that enhanced society. Wardlaw has actual first hand experience of the hardships people go through that survive on low income (and all incomes) through his clergy work and understands that some need more to work with at the very least. It's obvious to him and should be to the rest as well. Wardlaw has experience with people, integrity, compassion and is smart - the only one of the 4 candidates with all these traits based on my experience and knowledge. I also know he would listen to what I (we) had to say, would actually try to work with (us) to reduce poverty and assist us to put people back to work or in better positions to be positive contributors to society. Party platforms I cannot recite to you, however I can ask you all to look into the eyes and souls of the candidates you choose.

Sometimes, I suppose, you can't know candidates personally, but you can get a sense of their person and what they believe in personally by asking some simple questions - such as " Do You Support A Poverty Free Ontario?" or " What do you intend to do to house - not shelter- our growing number of low incomers ?"
As it stand now none of the parties actually have a poverty reduction plan that we feel is a good comprehensive plan, however we do feel there are candidates and parties that can be influenced to look at others' ideas - such as the Poverty Free Ontario Plan.
Above Pic Native group NinOs Kom Tin from 2010 Oct 17 at Fairy Lake Park to Mark International Day for The Eradication of Poverty. see video link below! The 2011 event needs some funds to help pay for it. Please help if you can as we need to raise about $750 to cover the full costs. Info Booths welcome.

Election Observations and Related Banter

                 Above York Region's break down of spending. Below Queen of The Food Banks
The Poverty Free Ontario campaign kicked off across Ontario Sept 23 with a number of areas garnering media and MPP attention, a good start to a campaign tailor- made for this upcoming Oct 6 provincial election.That being said, the coverage in local papers was rather vague about what the actual launch / campaign is, leaving readers believing some wonderful poverty reduction headway has already been made here in York Region, which it has not.It also misrepresented my point as I agreed only that York Region needs to work more collaboratively and less in silos - not that a good job has been done as it reads.

In my travels over the summer, what I have found are numerous(mostly) men living on the streets, in forests, or on the fringes and on couches or rooms often immersed in dangerous environments around dangerous people, and with affordable vacancy availabilities so low it's pitting groups of young people and old alike against each other for anything affordable, wreaking havoc in  low income communities.In Edmonton of the 38 murders in 2011 an astounding 20 were people who had been in hostels or homeless! That is danger my friends...and we have the same atmosphere brewing here where these men deserve a safe affordable choice too. Isn't murder and assault abuse? These men have no abuse shelters to flee to..Being killed, assaulted or recruited on the street is their option for housing or shelter after their 6 weeks maximum shelter stays are up? And that's if they are lucky enough to get one of only 25 beds for single men in the entire York Region. Men make up 90% of our homeless yet soon less than 20% of all available shelter beds here. Having to defend from often deranged or dangerous types because of lack of choice, that's fair? Or check into a place where a fellow patron who may not like you is checking their weapon out when you're booted in the morning? An otherwise meek homeless person could be terrorized into doing crimes or joining gangs he or she would not normally under such conditions, or worse yet, killed. Statistically men are murdered and assaulted far more than any grouping including women and children. Men too need homes and safety nets to survive! But that's okay they're men... they can handle it...Right.

Yesterday I came across a guy who receives ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) as his financial support who must rent out a room in his 2 bedroom apartment to get by. This is typical because they don't give enough $ to afford your own apartment. When the "roomee" couldn't make rent (again), he had to scrounge to find it, and asked the guy to leave in order to get someone else who could pay. This was not the first time this scenario has played out for the single ODSPer. Generally the tenant hasn't paid because he can't and then will become homeless, which they HATE SHELTERS. At this point guys get desperate and did so here, returning with 5 men who forcibly made the owner wait outside whilst they destroyed his place and re-broke his already broken foot. His new "roomee" returned to the destruction just after they'd gone - dishes smashed, furniture wrecked, his bike(transportation) spokes all broken and tossed out the 2nd floor window. Upset, he grabbed a kitchen knife and went downstairs to warn these younger thugs not to come back. He was then charged.The 5 men were not arrested with the owner being too afraid to say anything.

I'm not going to say that if we had enough SAFE, affordable housing and some affective programs to help these men, that these crimes wouldn't have happened - or actually yes I am - if we did, we likely wouldn't have had this scenario play out, which fell short this time of any casualties. Not so lucky for the 20 homeless connected murdered this year in Edmonton.

I was astounded to hear that some of our York Region shelters - including Sandgate Woman's Shelter, Inn From The Cold and the Youth Shelters (single men and SINGLE women up to age 26) as well - allow guests to check weapons in and out when they leave. Our shelters allow a person to bring a gun as long as they check it in and get it when they get out..Wha-a-a-at!!? I wonder if the proposed new women's shelter will allow this practice? ...and where will these homeless women come from? Mark my words, like the subsidized housing here in York Region where we Ship people(mostly families) in from outside York Region currently, they'll have to do the same for in-the-works Belinda's Place Shelter, because frankly we don't have enough women homeless in YR to fill it, despite all the sound bites of false information (STATS BASED ON # OF PHONE CALLS, NOT BODIES) our local papers and politicians keep spouting. Good luck housing them after their 6 weeks are up though, since we have no housing for them, same as the men - although I heard there are transitional homes proposed for some single women as well. There is none for men in York Region whatsoever.I may sound like a broken record at times but I will keep on writing the facts because I despise bullshit...and should I continue to see and hear false or misleading stats or info in our media or from our politicians I will continue to point it out even when obvious...Like we need more affordable housing for all singles, all ages, all sexes....Speaking of stats the same Era Banner reported last Sunday that there was an "unexpected" drop in YR shelter use this year. Well here we go again, because it should have been expected with the opening of the new family shelter which should have (and obviously did) taken some of the load away from the women's various shelters resulting in less bodies per. 
There is absolutely no doubt that with the least amount of rentals stock to begin with IN CANADA (under 12%), that York Region is lacking (affordable) places for residents to live, and as the cost of living surpasses wage and income increases, the situation is being exasperated. Building affordable units should be built into the region's official plan but is not.. Why? Because they think it's easier (and cheaper) to build shelters that are only for temporary stays. Wrong.

Build affordable homes, not jails, to reduce crime, poverty, and homelessness.

I noticed when I first went out after signs were up that all the NDP signs in my area seemed knocked over or perhaps poorly placed but I had my doubts...next time out the Conservative signs seemed knocked over and after which I read something in the papers about this sign wrecking being a "crime"..and only mentioned Conservative signs..hmmm...then we had our own sign launch as well as POVERTY FREE ONTARIO signs and lawns signs went out...but I noticed the ones I placed at strategic locations are....Gone! Hmmm.. someone is afraid of poverty....I also found out that a certain party routinely break the sign placement laws by placing them too close to corners and bus shelters etc...I've noticed the blatant disregard every election...how come illegal sign placement is not a "crime"!?

This Video was made by..Disgruntled York Region Food Bank Volunteers who want to retire!

This Original Video Depicts problems low income kids face in York Region and Ontario

Tom out!

Close The Food Banks

YR Police have told Outreach workers not to give tents out to the homeless and slit holes in any they find in a new "policy" it would seem, trying to force people into unhealthy often dangerous environments against their wishes.
The Wild Flowers Cafe at 225 Main St S in Newmarket Ontario will house a combination Open Stage Fundraiser and Youth education award presentation Fri Sept 23 from 7PM - 9:30 PM. Musicians and singers/players welcome. Also featuring TP Entertainment presents..., Khryme Syndicate, Dulcimer Head, Fred Joly...more TBA. Proceeds to PACC.

With such a catchy heading I suppose you're expecting another well meaning but off-base rant from me about the evils of food banks and that we should close them...something the average person might not even fathom as a possibility..." How could we possibly exist without food-banks!?"... I can hear the incredulous cries now, but hey, this isn't even my idea...it came from a group of mostly, or almost seniors, who have been (wo)manning food banks as volunteers in York Region for the past 20 years, and are tired of watching people suffer the indignity of it for little food in the big scheme of things. People need much more than food banks can possibly provide, and healthier, and they know it, and face the frustration of that directly from people in dire need. So who knows better? Who better to have seen how demoralized and undignified the food bank system makes people feel than its volunteers? If they say it's wrong there must be a ring to it. So what does a group of frustrated food bank volunteers do about it? Why sing of course!

"50 Ways To Close The Food Banks"
was spearheaded by York Region Food Networker, Yvonne Kelly, who approached the food bank volunteers originally to meet, but later evolving into their desire to do a sort of protest song designed to send a message to politicians and the public, that food banks are not an answer. They, in fact, were started as a temporary measure in the 1970's and were expected to last a few weeks but have now become ingrained as part of the food security network. This perception of it helping is terribly misguided.

The biggest downfall to food banks, besides the fact that they are perceived to solve the problem by some and are not a dignified means to receive a basic need or that locations can be hard to access, is the fact that most do not include any fresh or healthy foods and provide rations for only 3 day a month. Why bother? Just give them more money in whichever capacity that needs to be and let them buy food they actually like... themselves! Egads! They don't need a food depot and we especially don't need to maintain them in order to keep volunteers or donors happy. There's plenty of room on the shelter band wagons for anyone interested in that.

At any rate somehow I got pulled into the heap and agreed to make a video recording of the group - aptly named Freedom 95...The Table-Knacker Choir! Hopefully I can release it soon.