• STOP Corporations from Buying Up Single Family Homes
    There is a disturbing trend of hedge funds and corporations buying up large numbers of single family dwellings in the US, even whole subdivisions, to be used as rental units. Now, a developer is planning to invest 1 billion dollars to buy single family homes in Canada for investment purposes. As you know, owning your own home is not only every families dream, it is also the best route to accumulating wealth for retirement. If this trend continues, we will be a nation of renters with no equity in the end and reliant on the government for our well being in retirement years. This is a huge wealth transfer and will prevent families from having a stable future. Excerpt from Globe and Mail - June 13, 2021 A Toronto condo developer is buying hundreds of detached houses in Ontario, with the plan of renting them and profiting on the housing crisis ripping across the country. Core Development Group Ltd. is building a large-scale single-family home rental operation, an unproven business model in Canada, where the market is fragmented and individual investors lease a small number of their own properties for income. Institutional house rentals have become highly lucrative in the United States, with private-equity firms, pension funds and big companies throwing billions of dollars into the asset class. In Canada, deep-pocketed investors, as well as real estate investment trusts, have already acquired hundreds of apartment buildings to tap into the strong rental demand but have not moved into rental houses. Core founder Corey Hawtin and executive vice-president Faran Latafat questioned why there wasn’t a similar business in Canada, which has had a rental vacancy rate below 3 per cent since the turn of the century. “We were trying to answer the question: Why is nobody doing this in Canada? We could not come up with an objective answer to that. In Canada, it works as well or better than the U.S.,” said Ms. Latafat, Core’s president of single-family development. Core’s main business is condo development, and it has 14 projects in the Toronto region. Last fall, Mr. Hawtin raised $250-million from investors to buy approximately 400 properties, add basement apartments and turn the houses into two rental units. Core is targeting eight midsized cities in Ontario, and this year started buying properties in Kingston, St. Catharines, London, Barrie, Hamilton, Peterborough and Cambridge. It will soon start buying in Guelph. Its medium-term goal is to have a $1-billion portfolio of 4,000 rental units in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Atlantic Canada by 2026. Mr. Hawtin said Core’s rental units will provide affordable housing for families and residents who do not want to live in small apartments. If Core succeeds, it could spur major investors to follow suit. Ms. Latafat and Mr. Hawtin believe a major house rental business will flourish in Canada because of decades of low rental vacancy rates, desire for more space and high immigration. They also point out most of the country’s population is concentrated around a few job centres. As well, the pandemic’s real estate boom has priced even more residents out of the housing market with rentals as the only option. National home prices are 20 per cent above prepandemic levels, with values 30 to 50 per cent higher in parts of Ontario, B.C., Quebec and the Maritimes. The typical price of a detached house in Guelph and nearby Kitchener-Waterloo is now more than $800,000, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. That is about $200,000 more than a year ago. Economist David Rosenberg said an affordable rental house could become more attractive to a potential home buyer because house prices are so high. “The ratio of home prices to rental rates is so extreme that new entrants to residential real estate will gravitate to the rental market,” said Mr. Rosenberg, who leads Rosenberg Research & Associates, adding that if more potential buyers are forced to rent, that could eventually reduce competition in the residential real estate market and slow home price increases. Ms. Latafat said Core chose the eight Ontario cities because they all have strong local economies, are close to larger job centres, have growing populations and low housing vacancy rates. In Barrie and Guelph, the rental vacancy rate is closer to 2 per cent, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. data. Meanwhile, in the first year of the pandemic, rental rates have increased in the high single digits in Barrie, Guelph, London and St. Catharines, according to CMHC. “They have tight vacancies, like zero vacancies,” said Mr. Hawtin. “Immigration is growing, population is growing and buying a house or a condo has become less and less attainable. That is really compounding the rental demand in all of our marketplaces,” he said. So far this year, Core has spent $50-million on 75 properties, the executives said. Their two-bedroom basement apartments go for about $1,600 a month and a three-bedroom above-ground unit at about $2,100 a month. Those prices are higher than the average rental rate of $1,407 for a two-bedroom apartment in Ontario, according to CMHC data. Though Core’s rentals are newly renovated units in houses with gardens. Institutionalized family home rentals got their start south of the border, after the U.S. housing bubble burst in 2007 and companies bought thousands of houses at fire-sale prices. Companies and their investors now own swaths of U.S. neighbourhoods and make money on the rent, similar to apartment building owners. Toronto-based Tricon Residential, one of the largest operators of single family home rentals in the U.S., said Core’s decision to split the properties into two rental units makes sense given the price of houses in Canada. Full article - https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-condo-developer-to-buy-1-billion-worth-of-single-family-houses-in/
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  • Cancel Tokyo Olympics
    To bring all these people together while we are still in the grips of fighting the corona virus is irresponsible. The world is still not ahead in the fight to control this virus and would likely lead to a high transmission rate that would be especially unfair to the people of Tokyo. We can accommodate athletes and competition in a revised format in the future.
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  • Create a National Bus Service Now
    Greyhound is pulling its services out of Canada, leaving many rural and low-income communities stranded. [1] It’s a massive loss to all of us who rely on Greyhound to get to work, visit our families, and access critical services. Private companies are clamouring to fill the gap Greyhound left behind — but they’re fully prepared to abandon remote and Indigenous communities in favour of more lucrative routes. [2] This move could mean social and economic isolation for thousands. And for many Indigenous women, the difference between a bus ride and a hitchhike could be life and death. [3] With entire communities deserted for the bottom line, it’s never been more clear that we need a publicly funded, national bus service that is safe, reliable, and affordable. The federal government is in crisis talks to replace Greyhound — and companies like Megabus are fighting hard to get in on the new market. [4] Time is short — but a massive injection of public pressure could be enough to force a publicly-funded national bus service into the federal conversation. Will you add your name to stand up for accessible, affordable, and green transportation for all? [1] https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/greyhound-canada-1.6025276 [2] https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/greyhound-bus-column-don-pittis-1.6026564 [3] https://globalnews.ca/news/7860104/greyhound-closure-disaster-communities/ [4] https://globalnews.ca/news/7863365/megabus-ottawa-toronto-kingston-greyhound-canada/
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  • Appuyons le projet de loi C-10
    Nous sommes des artistes, auteurs, créateurs et professionnels provenant de toutes les associations du milieu de la culture. La liberté d’expression se trouve au cœur même de nos démarches artistiques. C’est une valeur sacrée et intouchable à nos yeux, et nul ne saurait remettre en cause cet état de fait. Le gouvernement canadien, ayant à cœur de faire rayonner la culture originale canadienne, impose à tous les diffuseurs d’intégrer au sein de leur programmation des contenus musicaux, télévisuels et cinématographiques produits ici, notamment en français. Malheureusement, cette obligation ne s’applique pas aux géants du numérique tels que Netflix, Spotify, YouTube et autres multinationales étrangères. Celles-ci font pourtant des affaires en or sur notre territoire, sans aucune obligation de réinjecter, ne serait-ce qu’une fraction des sommes générées, en soutien à nos créateurs canadiens et francophones. Cette injustice tue graduellement nos entreprises culturelles, affecte nos emplois, et c’est l’ensemble de notre identité culturelle qui s’en trouve inévitablement menacée. Nous croyons qu’il est urgent d’imposer aux géants du Web les mêmes règles qui prévalent à l’endroit de tous les diffuseurs dans le but de favoriser la création originale d’ici et la vitalité du milieu culturel et artistique. C’est pourquoi nous appuyons le projet de loi C-10, actuellement en discussion à Ottawa. Nous demandons aux parlementaires de tout mettre en œuvre pour établir l’équité dès maintenant et assurer le bon cheminement du projet de loi. Il y va de la survie de notre avenir culturel. Pour plus d’information, consultez cette lettre ouverte signée par les présidentes et présidents de l’UDA, la FNCC-CSN, l’APASQ, l’AQAD, l’ARRQ, la GMMQ, l’UNEQ, la SARTEC et TRACE : https://www.lapresse.ca/debats/opinions/2021-05-06/projet-de-loi-sur-la-radiodiffusion/une-reforme-essentielle-pour-le-milieu-culturel.php
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  • Make Dollar Store goods for sale for all
    Many low-income people use Dollar stores and budget stores that have been left off a list of "essential" goods during COVID in favor of rich area stores. This is discriminatory and will make more people get sick and die - especially in areas hard hit by COVID 19.
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  • Offer vaccines to all frontline workers
    So they can protect themselves from the third wave of COVID19.
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  • National Citizens' Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice
    The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that swift emergency action and systemic change in the long-term public interest is both necessary and possible. The United Nations has reported that the destruction of nature is the root cause of present and future global pandemics, and the Government of Canada acknowledges that the climate and ecological emergency will contribute to worsening public health crises, including the further spread of infectious diseases. Climate change is rapidly outpacing scientific predictions, and the world is fast approaching tipping points that threaten abrupt and irreversible heating and biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss and species extinction threaten human food systems. The climate crisis is predicted to lead to catastrophic economic losses and worsening political instability, affecting the most marginalized communities first and foremost. The people of Canada should be able to directly participate in the environmental, economic, social and political decisions which affect their lives and those of future generations. Citizens’ assemblies are representative, democratic instruments well-suited to overcoming political deadlock and addressing complex problems. Citizens’ assemblies produce evidence-based public judgment, and are not equivalent to other forms of public consultation, such as town halls or referendums, which rely solely on the collection of public opinion. Other G7 countries, such as France and the United Kingdom, have created national citizens’ assemblies on climate policy. So has the state of Washington. Since there exists a pre-qualified vendor of record with the Government of Canada, with expertise in the design and delivery of citizens’ assemblies (MASS LBP, masslbp.com), there is no reason for Canada not to do the same.
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  • Save Learn@Home Across Ontario!
    Dear Mr. Lecce, For families, the first and foremost benefit of the Learn@Home program was protection from the COVID-19 virus. But as this year progressed it became apparent that children enrolled in virtual learning have experienced myriad unexpected additional benefits BEYOND health and safety: - Decreased anxiety as a result of ZERO bullying, exclusion, cliques, etc. - Increased 1:1 time with educators - Greater efficiency in work completion, and therefore increased satisfaction - Increased outdoor time - Decreased sense of competition with classmates - Decreased illness from common cold/flu - Increased connectedness between parents and teachers - Enhanced academic performance in literally every area: math, literacy, science (students finally “getting” concepts that previously eluded them) - Quieter learning environment has decreased excess stimulation and increased concentration power - Uninterrupted learning time - Meeting more like-minded friends than in bricks-and-mortar - Increased confidence and overall happiness, a “lightness” of spirit - Flexibility of scheduling - Less stress, greater fulfillment, increased self-confidence Children who have dealt with severe bullying at bricks-and-mortar school have finally been able to relax, blossom, and exude joy in a new environment. For parents and kids alike, this is the GIFT of a lifetime. We are also aware, having spoken to L@H Principals, that there is ample data to illustrate that the remote environment has improved academic performance. Children previously plagued by behavioural challenges, or with complex IEP needs, are now thriving. As you can imagine, L@H parents facing the termination of this schooling option are appalled and deeply saddened on behalf of our children. During an otherwise traumatic time, L@H has provided our children with unwavering stability, ample social opportunities, improved academic performance, and enhanced self-confidence. With larger, more urban school boards continuing the program, rural students are being placed at a distinct disadvantage in having this learning option stripped from them. We urge you to do what's right and ENSURE EQUAL ACCESS to this program across the province. L@H has benefits that extend beyond health and safety and should therefore be upheld past the pandemic's end. Please help us support the students for whom this program has “cracked the code” of what a perfect learning environment looks like for them. Sincerely, Ontario Parents
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  • #PivotTheGradClock: Funding Extension Guarantee for All Graduate Students in Queen's
    In March 2020, over 2000 people called for the University to waive summer tuition in recognition of the immense impact COVID 19 was taking on SGPS members’ financial stability and wellbeing due to changes to educational delivery that affected us both as students and as labourers. This request was met with a stern “no.” Since then, graduate students have been working overtime to continue their studies and employment responsibilities at Queen’s. Many graduate students faced significant delays in receiving ethics approval and access to archives and had to adapt their research proposals due to restricted possibilities for in-person research. They also had to go above and beyond with their commitments to RA/TAships with the switch to online delivery. While the School of Graduate Studies is working to approve a policy about extensions for completion time, funding extensions should not be made on a case-by-case basis. Pressure needs to continue to be placed on the decision-makers at Queens to come up with a cross-department plan to ensure funding for all students who need additional time to completion. We the undersigned endorse this campaign and demand a one year funding extension guarantee for all graduate students currently enrolled in Queen’s. This provision will come with the option to opt out upon completion of research. We call for faculty members, faculty associations, department stakeholders and all graduate students to sign this letter and show our strength behind this much required change. Important: Add your designation alongside your last name in the box below with no special characters. For example, Jane (first name) Doe Graduate Student (last name and designation).
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  • Demand shelter for Brad Lamb's evicted tenants
    CBC reports that 9 Toronto residents have been kicked out of their homes with just 24 hours notice, after learning that the units had been illegally built in unsafe conditions - which almost led to death by carbon monoxide poisoning for several tenants. The landlord, Brad Lamb, is reported to have installed ineffective monoxide detectors that would, according to firefighters, have failed to protect the residents. With those tenants out on the street in the midst of the pandemic through no fault of their own, it's up to Brad Lamb to fix the situation he created. Lamb runs Toronto's top condo and loft brokerage. A search of his website reveals hundreds of available properties. He has the means to offer shelter to the people whose lives he almost destroyed and who he has evicted overnight. Send Brad's company an email demanding that they make some of their open units available to the evicted tenants immediately and for at least three months to give them time to find a new place. CBC article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/west-end-apartment-residents-given-24-hours-to-vacate-1.5949249 (Comic art by @CarymaRules)
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  • Cancel taxpayer subsidies to all industries that emit Greenhouse gases
    Climate change is catastrophic, we have to work together to save our planet. There is no planet b. Every industry that does more harm than good, specifically the animal industry and fossil fuel industry, should not be subsidized by taxpayers.
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  • Support paid sick days for all U of T employees
    The University of Toronto likes to publicize its ranking as one of Canada’s top 100 employers. However, the truth is, in any given month, U of T, one of the richest (if not the richest) publicly funded education institutions in the country, hires more than 5,000 people on casual contracts – many working at or near full-time hours – with no guarantee of hours of work, no health benefits and no paid sick days. The University administration recently granted support staff three temporary, paid “Staff Wellness Days.” However, only a small percentage of those on casual contracts actually qualify for such paid leave. There exists at U of T and other post-secondary institutions an ingrained staff stratification where University management, with their inflated salaries and perks, argue that workers on casual contracts, many of whom are also students, somehow don’t deserve the health and income protections afforded by paid sick days. When sick and without paid sick days, these workers must make the difficult choice of going without income or else potentially infecting their fellow workers by going in to work. No person, especially during a global pandemic, should have to make such a choice. Right now, the union that represents many of these workers – United Steelworkers Local 1998 (Casual Unit) – is currently bargaining with U of T management, and one of the asks is paid sick days. Based on our initial meetings, we are expecting the University’s negotiators to reject this reasonable and necessary proposal. This is not what we should expect from a “model” employer. As one of the biggest employers in Toronto and amid a growing call for paid sick days for all, the U of T administration has an opportunity to show leadership on this issue and implement paid sick days for all employees at U of T. To that end, we encourage you – whether or not you are a part of the U of T community – to sign the petition.
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