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Older Women’s Network (Ontario) Inc. 115 The Esplanade Toronto, ON. M5E 1Y7 Telephone: 416-214-1518 E-mail: Website: Contact is a publication of the Older Women’s Network (OWN), an incorporated non-profit organization with a feminist outlook. It focuses, in particular, on issues affecting older women. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of OWN. Contact is published four times a year on the st 1 of Mar., June, Sept., Dec. Firm deadlines for contributions is the first of Feb., May, Aug., Nov. Please be sure your event takes place after the publication date. Material submitted is subject to editing for clarity or length. E-mail submissions to: shirleylewis6@ or phone her at 416-601-9398. Contact Editorial Group: Vivian Banton, Sylvia Hall, Eleanor Batchelder, Shirley Lewis, and Betty McKechnie The annual membership fee of OWN is $35 (low income $25) for individuals and $65 for organizations. The membership year is Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Members of OWN receive Contact free.

OWN Provincial Council 2010 - 2011 Chair: Mary Hynes Vice Chair: Eleanor Batchelder Past Chair: Erin Harris Secretary: Shirley Lewis Directors: Janice Tait, Rona Macdonald, Margaret Hawthorn, Audrey Danaher Please contact any Council Member through the Provincial Office at 416-214-1518

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These additional contributions will, after one year, result in an extra payment called the Post Retirement Benefit (PRB). For some women these will be welcome improvements – women who wish to continue working and expect to have the income to continue contributions. In the Budget, extra help for “Vulnerable Seniors” means another $600 for a single person collecting the Guaranteed Income Supplement ($50 per month). Given these new directives, OWN members will be glad to know that Service Canada is starting a program called Enhanced Pension Support Services (EPSS) with specially trained operatives to deal with complex pension questions. This kicks in when a staff person is unable to answer a pension query and there is then a referral to the special service. A welcome change for family caregivers and others with irregular participation in the labour force is the addition of another 8 years to the low-income years that can be dropped from CPP calculations; this is in addition to the 7 years for child-rearing. The New Horizons grant program for seniors, which gives up to $25,000 for a onetime, one-year project, has been somewhat modified. If anyone has a project which might fit their criteria, come into the OWN office and look at the regulations or check them out on the Service Canada Web site ( Margaret Hawthorn is the OWN Representative on the Seniors’ Advisory Committee

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The NDP elected the most women MPs - 40 of them are among the 102 MPs who make up the new Official Opposition party. Twenty-seven of the women MPs are from Quebec. One out of the four Bloc Quebecois MPs elected is a woman, while the Liberals have six women in their reduced caucus of 34 MPs. The Conservative majority government has 28 women in its 167-member caucus. In total, women will sit in 25 per cent of the 308 seats in the House of Commons. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May made history by winning her party’s first ever seat in the House of Commons and she will be the only female federal leader on Parliament Hill. The cabinet in Harper’s first majority government features 10 women among the 39 members, one less woman than in the previous term when the ministry consisted of 38 positions. For more detailed information, visit http:// THANKS OWN is grateful to the following donors for their support: • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario • Loretto Ladies’ Colleges and Schools • Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation ~ Active Retired Members (ARM) • Ontario Trillium Foundation ~ an agency of the Government of Ontario

Feminist Book Discussion Groups OWN CO-OP BOOK GROUP 115 The Esplanade Second Tuesday of the month, 2 - 4 pm Titles not yet selected Sep. 13 Oct. 11 Nov. 8 Dec. 13 Coordinator: Leslie Lawlor 416-363-9219 ; NORTH YORK CENTRAL LIBRARY 5120 Yonge St. First Wednesday of the month, 1:30 – 3:30 pm Sep. 7, Tunnel Vision, by Sara Paretsky, 1994 Oct. 5, The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill, 2007 Nov. 2, Changing My Mind, autobiography by Margaret Trudeau, 2010 Dec. 7, Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories, memoir by Azar Nafisi, 2008 Coordinator: Eleanor Batchelder 647-235-0843; NORTHERN DISTRICT LIBRARY 40 Orchard View (near Yonge & Eglinton) Third Wednesday of the month. 2 - 4 pm Sep. 21, Not for Profit: Why democracy needs the humanities, by Martha Nussbaum Oct. 19, Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan Nov. 16, Women of the Raj, by Margaret MacMillan Dec. 14, The Two-Headed Calf, by Sandra Birdsell Coordinator: Adrienne Taylor 416-481-2356;

• St Michael’s ~ Inner City Health Program Fall 2011

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3. Preferably, ask a single question. It should never be more than two parts. Topics and questions to consider asking: 1. HOME CARE – How will you implement a home care program so family members are properly looked after at home, both in cases when a relative is in the home taking care of them and not out working and when homemakers and others need to be hired to provide care? 2. HOUSING – What specifically will you do in conjunction with federal and municipal governments to create and fund housing projects so residents of modest or limited incomes can live in adequate housing and still pay for necessities like groceries? 3. RE-TRAINING – Because of family responsibilities many women work at one or more part-time jobs. When companies “downsize” and fire them, provincially sponsored Second Career re-training is not available to them. What will you do to create adequate training and education for women who work only part-time? 4. Previous governments have downloaded many costs to the city (municipality) including transit, court, welfare, social housing. Now child-care funding is disappearing. How do you propose to repair this inequality? Feedback This is your newsletter and we welcome your feedback. Letters to the Editor and articles are welcomed for consideration by the Editorial Committee. Submit to : Contact at OWN 115 The Esplanade Toronto, ON M5E 1M6 4 (OWN) Contact Fall 2011

Chair Report By Mary Hynes

During the last two weeks of July standing committees of Toronto City Council held hearings about the proposed cuts to city services. Residents and organizations were allowed to make deputations (speeches) of 3 or 5 minutes to express their concerns. On July 20 I spoke to the Community Development and Recreation Committee as a representative of OWN. Below is the transcript of my presentation. I am here representing the Older Women’s Network, which, as the only advocacy organization for midlife and older women in Ontario, is a voice for more than half a million women in Toronto. We are women in longterm care homes, women who live in Rosedale, women who run businesses and women who sleep on a couch in a relative’s apartment. We take our grandkids to the cottage in Muskoka and we struggle to find carfare to take them to the park. Some of us are raising our grandkids on our Old Age Security Pension or looking after parents, husbands or in-laws suffering from Alzheimer’s. We are the volunteers so many organizations depend on and we are the midlife women trying to find re-training after losing good paying, well taxed jobs. In short, we are Toronto. We want an Age-Friendly City – a city that values all its residents through all life stages. Some of the things that contribute to a socially, environmentally and physically healthy city are not under discussion today, so I will not talk about such issues as transit or public health. But I will talk about the need for

Chair Report (cont’d) vibrant communities and neighbourhoods. Let’s start with the youngest members of our communities – babies, toddlers and preschoolers. I have worked in daycares and I know first-hand how important a good early start can be. So many of my younger friends and neighbours depend on subsidized child care so they can work to pay for the basics. I can remember when my own disabled son was little and I struggled to find after-school care. The years he eventually spent in afterschool programs at my local community centre were a godsend and contributed to his social development. We need more, not fewer, daycare spaces. School-aged children and youth. Sure, some communities have excellent privately run community sport and recreation programs. And sure, communities where parents have been active and know how to work the system may have excellent facilities that don’t really need to be improved (at least not right now). But there are many communities with limited facilities. In the North York area where I currently live, it is more than 3 kilometers away by car to the nearest community centre. There are fields nearby, but they are already leased to a private school and so are off-limits. We need more, not less, public access to recreation opportunities. If recreation facilities become privatized with some kind of subsidies for the “poor,” how many working families will no longer be able to access art classes, fitness classes, swimming, pleasure skating? How many people will be not well-off enough to pay

the fees but not eligible for assistance or too embarrassed to beg for financial help, after having been paying the taxes that built and maintained the recreation facilities? How many seniors already have difficulty finding and using appropriate recreation facilities? Some areas, like the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood, have no senior centres. Others are hard to get to. Accessing the centres in the east end of North York where I live requires coordinating bus transfers. We need more recreation facilities for seniors. You can choose to save money today by limiting recreation services provided by the city for its residents. But we and our children and grandchildren will pay the price. We can have a city to be proud of – a Paris, Copenhagen or New York. Or we can choose a city that resembles the worst of a city, like Detroit. If some of our children don’t get a good start, if some of our children have no safe place to develop life skills, if seniors cannot remain active – we will all pay a price in the long run. We will have more people unable to work because they lack child care. We will have seniors whose mental and physical health decline more rapidly. We will, in effect, reduce our tax base. If you don’t care about preserving and improving the societal health of Toronto, think of what you are doing to us as tax payers. Why would people choose to live in a city where equity has disappeared, where it’s every man (or woman) for themselves? It certainly wouldn’t be the city I would choose to live in and pay taxes for. Fall 2011

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She is an indigenous activist, legal scholar and academic who writes and speaks about women’s rights in the context of aboriginal By Shirley Lewis self-government. In December 2010 McIvor said “Because neither Canadian courts nor • Canada blocks inclusion of chrysotile Parliament have yet granted an adequate and asbestos in UN trade treaty. Although cancer-causing asbestos is virtually effective remedy for the sex discrimination which has been a hallmark of the Indian Act banned in Canada, and millions of dollars for more than a hundred years, I will take have been spent removing asbestos from my case to the United Nations Human Rights homes where it was installed in the 1970s, Canada was alone in opposing the U.N. treaty Committee.” McIvor, and her son Jacob Grismer, challenge that would force exporters to warn recipient countries of any health hazards. This is what the sex-based criteria the Canadian Medical Association passed in for determining who can be registered as an 2010 “The Canadian Medical Association Aboriginal person (an calls upon the federal government to: a) support the international designation of “Indian”). McIvor said chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical; “I contested this discrimination under the Charter. It took twenty years in Canadian b) eliminate the use and exportation of courts, and I achieved only partial success. asbestos; and Now I will seek full justice for aboriginal c) support the proper management of women under international human rights asbestos that has been used, including law. Canada needs to be held to account for remediation.” its intransigence in refusing to completely The World Health Organization has labelled all types of asbestos, including chrysotile, as eliminate sex discrimination from the Indian Act and for decades of delay.” EEEK! carcinogenic. But Canada continues to export asbestos, and hasn’t even the decency • Ontario Health Coalition Fights Hospital to warn users of its dangers or even coSecrecy Law operate with United Nations partners who Did you know that a clause was inserted into at least wanted to issue a warning of its dangers. Talk about tarnishing our reputation the Ontario Government’s Budget Bill in April 2011 that allows hospital CEO’s to deny – EEK! requests for information? It’s been dubbed The Hospital Secrecy Law, although its real • Native Canadian Woman Takes name is Schedule 15 of Bill 173. Basically, Discrimination Case to the United Nations it allows hospital executives to make some In April 2011 Sharon McIvor presented documents secret by simply stamping a petition to the United Nations Human “confidential” on them – or, retroactively Rights Committee. McIvor (LL.B. ‘86) is a suggesting that the records were intended to member of the Lower Nicola Indian Band. 6 (OWN) Contact Fall 2011

be private. This extension of hospital secrecy significantly undermines the government’s own Public Sector Accountability Act. Hospitals, as publicly funded institutions, should have to show cause why they would keep information secret. By the time you read this, the law may already be passed, although objections have been raised by more than 15 groups, including the Ontario Trial Lawyers Assn., The Canadian Civil Liberties Assn., and the Ontario Health Coalition. EEEK! • Incorporate your Uterus! A Florida civil liberties group is inviting women to incorporate their uteruses to protect them against government intervention, according to an item in the Toronto Sun. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida launched in response to a Democratic state representative, Scott Randolph, who joked in a House session that his wife should have her uterus incorporated, because if women’s wombs were businesses, the Republicans wouldn’t try to regulate them. The Republican house leadership condemned Randolph’s language and banned politicians from using the word “uterus” on the floor. But the ACLU saw the humour and adopted the language for its own pro-choice campaign, explaining, “When a corporation has more protections than a woman, the best way to keep lawmakers out of your business is to be your own business.” There are currently 10 bills before the Florida legislature seeking to place limits on abortions in the state. EEK!

IN THE NEWS By Shirley Lewis

• Scarborough Elects First Tamil Woman Ever Rathika Sitsabaiesan won the Scarborough Rouge Hill Riding seat for the NDP party in the 2011 election, becoming the first Tamil to serve in the Canadian federal parliament and the first Tamil woman in the world to serve in federal politics outside of Asia. She is the first Tamil to serve in Canadian federal parliament. The 29- yearold political activist ran in a riding that was thought to be a “safe” Liberal seat. • Woman Receives the Order of Canada at Age 103 Judge Edra Sanders Ferguson was named in June to the Order of Canada at age 103. Responding to this honour, she writes, “I was very surprised to receive this prestigious honour as I did not know I had been nominated. I have now learned that it was a young woman who nominated me. I would guess that most nominations are made by the rich and powerful. I am so pleased that a young woman without power or influence would take such an initiative — and be successful.” Judge Ferguson now lives in Toronto, but hails from St. Thomas, Ontario. continued on page 9 Fall 2011

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Organizations to Admire: Toronto Disaster Relief Committee

Who could not admire the idealism and commitment of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC)? Headed by the indomitable Cathy Crowe, currently running for a seat in the Ontario Provincial elections, this group advocates on housing and homelessness issues and is active on numerous fronts. TDRC provides coordination services for the National Housing and Homelessness Network. It is a voice on the City of Toronto’s Advisory Committee for Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons. It works closely with former residents of Tent City, and supported residents in their effort to relocate into housing on non-polluted lands. It researches the issues and produces numerous reports. It tracks the numbers of those who die on our city streets. And members of the Disaster Relief Committee watch the homeless disaster worsen daily. They believe deeply that homelessness is a serious human rights violation – and as activists they have rallied on behalf of the homeless. They promote the 1% solution because they believe that the single most important thing needed to end homelessness in Canada is a fully-funded National Housing Program. They ask that all levels of government spend 1% of their overall budgets on housing. The One Percent Solution would result in $2 billion in new funding for social housing annually by the federal government, and $2 billion in new funding for social housing annually shared among the provincial and territorial governments. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR FOCUS GROUP OWN is participating in the Ontario Law Reform Commission’s development of new guidelines for what they call “Elder Law”, the effect of the law on older adults. They need a focus group of older women to take place Friday October 21 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at Toronto Reference Library to discuss legal needs and experiences with the law. Can you give an afternoon to this worthwhile project? Phone me at 416-767-8844 or Margaret Hawthorn

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continued from page 7 • French Women Find Their Voices French women’s support groups have registered an increase of up to 600 per cent in complaints about sexual harassment since Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for attempted rape in New York last month. The so-called “affaire DSK” has generated a backlash against the casual sexism which has long been accepted as a way of life in France. • Glass Ceiling Pierced The New York Times reported on June 2 that it has appointed its first female executive editor in its 160-year history, as Jill Abramson was promoted to replace Bill Keller effective September. An experienced journalist and managing editor, Ms. Abramson has been with the Times since 2003. Noon-hour Seminars on Issues of Aging The Institute for Life Course & Aging at the University of Toronto, with NICE, hosts the 2011-2012 Noon-Hour Seminar Series, eighteen lectures on the latest developments in aging and end-of-life issues. The first seminar is Sep. 22, continuing on one or two Thursdays a month throughout the fall and winter, ending Apr. 26. All interested are welcome to attend free of charge, and bring your lunch. They are held at 263 McCaul St., 12 to 1:30 pm; for a complete schedule, see Webcasts of the seminars can be viewed at

• First Female Dean of Science at U of T Named “Woman of Distinction” Professor Cristina Amon, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto, has been named one of the 2011 YWCA Women of Distinction Award winners. Prof. Amon was recognized for breaking glass ceilings and gender barriers in science and engineering. She earned recognition at the May YWCA ceremony for her work promoting women in science and engineering. She broke the glass ceiling herself in 2006 when she became the first ever female dean of Engineering Science at the U of T.

BY-LAW COMMITTEE The OWN By-laws need to be revisited. The last time it was looked at in its entirety was when we were attempting to obtain charitable status. Now that we are unabashedly an advocacy organization, we need to make some decisions on our organizational structure. As well, there are probably sections that need clarifying or expanding. Please sign up for this critical ad hoc committee with the OWN office at 416-214-1518. This committee will have its recommendations approved by the OWN Council in time for presentation to the entire membership at our next AGM. Fall 2011

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Recommended Reading

lesson plans, references, video lists, and Economics for Everyone, by Jim Stanford. suggestions for further discussion. Pluto Press, 2008 There is an Reviewed by Kate Chung interesting list of some examples Jim Stanford, economist for the Canadian of successful Autoworkers Union (CAW), has written an public and noneasy-to-read explanation of our complex profit enterprises capitalist economy (with the emphasis on (not all of which capitalist). I would agree with - Toronto Community You might ask why we recommend a book Housing is one of them!), and a “shopping on economics. The fact is that we cannot list” for activists- a list of key improvements seek to change any system if we do not know which would make our capitalist economy and understand it. This book is compulsory more humane, more stable, and more reading for anyone wanting to find a way to environmentally sustainable. He sums up reform our capitalist system or to replace it with a list of a dozen things to remember with something else. about economics. The book is based on an online economics This book is a must-read for anyone who course for union members, developed jointly wants to understand the economy and for by the CAW and McMaster University. It those who think they already understand starts with the most basic questions: Why it, for the author clarifies what bankers, study economics? What is “economics”? financiers, CEOs, and politicians may prefer What is the economy? Why do economics that we see as overly complex. Knowledge and politics go hand-in-hand? How do we is power. Economics for Everyone brings measure the economy? Is GDP an adequate knowledge - and power - to the ordinary folks measure of the economy? What is GDP? who actually drive our economy. What is a good economy? What is money? Economics for Everyone is available through How is money created? What is the role the website of The Canadian Centre for of credit? Jim moves on to a history of Policy Alternatives, as well as at Another capitalism, an explanation of neoliberalism, Story Bookstore on Roncesvalles and at and four types of capitalism. He discusses the major Toronto bookstores. It is also available stock market, global trade, the debates about from the Toronto government’s role and size, the issues around Public Library. government debt, recessions and depressions, and the cyclical nature of capitalism. Diagrams, tables, and cartoons illustrate his points. A website ( is available, with study guides, questions, 10 (OWN) Contact Fall 2011

Women to Admire – Profile

SHEILA FRASER By Betty McKechnie

We taxpayers will sorely miss our recently retired Auditor General, Sheila Fraser. For the past 10 years Ms. Fraser and her staff have been charged with the task of watching the way our government spends our money. They are alert for sloppy bookkeeping, extravagant spending, inexplicable expenses and possible evidence of corruption. In short, their job is to keep government officials and employees honest. This is obviously an extremely important task and Canadians have been fortunate in having Sheila Fraser in charge. Ms. Fraser graduated from McGill University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She was employed by Ernst and Young, where she often worked on assignment to the Auditor General of Quebec, and in 1999 she joined the Office of the Auditor General of Canada as Deputy Auditor General, Audit Operations. She was appointed Auditor General in 2000. During her mandate a Reader’s Digest poll listed her as one of the top 10 most trusted Canadians. She has been a watchdog who has hammered home critical findings that have forced the government into action. She has been vigilant

in her investigations as well as insistent that her office remain independent from inappropriate interference from government during its research into spending. Ms. Fraser has made the headlines and rocked the political scene on several occasions. Her report on the sponsorship scandal of 2003-2004 probed the Liberal government’s granting of funds to Liberal-friendly communications firms which led to an RCMP probe, a public inquiry, the firing of senior civil servants and criminal convictions. It also brought the Liberal government to its knees and cleared the way for a Conservative federal victory. There have been many other investigations into the offices of high- ranking officials that have led to criminal charges and changes in policy. In her own department Ms. Fraser has posted her own personal expenses, has ordered a value-for-money audit of her own office and issued annual status reports that followed up on how well government departments implemented or ignored the recommendations from her audits. We are fortunate to have had Sheila Fraser and the office of the Auditor General overseeing our government’s business practices; other countries aren’t so lucky.

Fall 2011

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Funding for social housing comes mostly from the Federal and Provincial Governments and is organized through the City of Toronto. Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) is Toronto’s WoodGreen Community Services largest provider of social housing with Reporter: Margaret Jarvis 164,000 tenants. About 93% of TCHC tenants pay a subsidized rent or RGI (Rent Ulli Groppler, Manager of Community geared to income) legislated by Ontario Development and Housing, Woodgreen and managed by the City of Toronto (Social Community Housing was our guest speaker on May 17, the second in our series of public Housing Reform Act). It is calculated as 30% of gross employment income, including meetings. In 2010 the City of Toronto subsidies such as Ontario Works (Welfare). named WoodGreen an “Affordable Housing Non-profit Champion.” organizations WoodGreen Community Services, a (communities or United Way member agency, is one of churches) also the largest social service providers in provide social/ Toronto, serving 37,000 clients each year affordable rental from 23 locations in Toronto’s East End. housing and WoodGreen enhances self-sufficiency, receive funding promotes well-being and reduces poverty from governments through innovative solutions to critical social needs. It provides affordable housing, through the City, but they manage their own properties. Rental co-ops and non-profits employment, and support for newcomers to receive government support. They have Canada, low-income people, seniors living independently, and frail seniors. It also offers their own boards and usually hire property managers. Many offer a percentage of RGI child care services as well as mental health units, with the subsidies “topped-up” by and developmental programs. Woodgreen welfare funds. Community Housing provides integrated Woodgreen Community Housing rents transitional and supportive housing, as well as affordable rental housing. Through its nine units as RGI, which is calculated as 30% of gross income. Additional funds come from programming divisions, with a staff of 600 government sources through the City and and 1000 volunteers, it manages 700 rental units and provides homes for 1000 residents. from donations from charities such as the United Way or the WoodGreen Foundation. Ulli, who has many years experience in Some private landlords also provide non-profit housing, said it’s “complex and layered”. You need knowledge, lots of work, affordable rental units, but their “affordable” continued on page 13 partnerships, money, operations, and capital income to achieve success.

Housing Literacy Series #2: “What Really Works in Creating Affordable Housing?”

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rents are usually only 10% below the average market rent. TCHC and co-ops offer single occupancy units, while some private nonprofits offer shared units. All rentals fall under the Residential Tenancy Act and the Human Rights Code. Of special interest to OWN was WoodGreen’s takeover three years ago of Ray McCleary Towers at 444 Logan, an independent living seniors building of 159 units. Bachelors rent for $648 and one bedrooms for $779; some restrictions do apply. Although TCHC has a waiting list of 65,000 people, Woodgreen does not keep a waiting list for any of its many buildings. Instead, each division head supplies only one name to fill a specific opening and the winner is selected by a draw. Ulli explained that the City is looking for projects that involve partnerships and are designed to promote specific mandates that meet special community needs. A new proposal has a greater chance of success if it offers innovative solutions to current problems such as job loss, thereby qualifying it for different grants. Ulli’s detailed presentation of Woodgreen’s varied buildings and services was followed by a lively and informative question and answer period. We were very pleased to have Ulli Groppler share her knowledge with us and we all look forward to learning much more about building and managing affordable housing from her. For fuller information, please see their excellent web site at

National Garage Sale for Shelter Raises More than $400,000 in Support of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation Who could have imagined that selling old dishes, unwanted furniture and outgrown toys could save a woman’s life and give a young person the chance for a brighter future? Yet on May 14, 2011, Royal LePage offices across the country hosted the 3rd Annual National Garage Sale for Shelter and did just that. Thanks to their dedication, creativity and hard work, and the support of local community members, the event set a new record by raising more than $400,000 in support of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. “Because of the funds raised at the National Garage Sale for Shelter, women and children who have experienced family violence have a safe place to stay, a refuge from the worry and fear,” said Shanan Spencer-Brown, Executive Director of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. “Each year, this event raises awareness of the issue of family violence and shows that we can all make a difference.”

Fall 2011

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What Do YOU Think?

internal research, over the same period Air Canada’s CEO at the time, Robert Milton, Do you agree that Canadians are docilely pocketed $86 million – while thousands accepting the shrinking of front-line employees were forced to of our middle class? take cuts, to the tune of about $10,000 per Recently there have been year, including an erosion of real wages, a number of prominent lost vacation, paid lunch breaks and other articles in Canadian benefits. newspapers pointing Air Canada workers made major sacrifices. out disturbing economic The company plowed ahead with plans to trends that show the do more with less. Work intensified and rich getting very much productivity skyrocketed. Measured in richer while the middle class is shrinking -- see especially seat miles delivered per employee, labour productivity at Air Canada jumped 75 per The article below is a good example of this cent. Yet many who had earned a good (albeit dilemma. If you want to comment on this issue, your opinion could be published in our modest) salary saw their quality of life and working conditions decline. Letters to the Editor. This storyline has played out in too many Stormy Skies for Canada’s workplaces across Canada. “Good” jobs Middle Class are on the wane, in all sectors – whether in By Ken Lewenza National President, factories, service shops, office buildings, or Canadian Auto Workers | Excerpted from among the professional classes. Many have The Mark News – Sat, 11 Jun, 2011 The Canadian middle class is in crisis. Each come to accept the logic that jobs in the “new year, its share of our national income shrinks, economy” are inherently insecure. Pension plans exist only in fairy tales, and personal relative to that of the richest few. Recent sacrifice has become the new norm. We reports show Canada’s wealthiest one per accept the mantra that the next generation of cent accounted for 32 per cent of all income workers will be worse off, and assume they growth between 1997 and 2007 – the most simply aren’t in a position to demand better. in recorded history. Thanks to skyrocketing This attitude must change – for everyone’s executive compensation levels and an benefit. The squeezing out of Canada’s aggressive attack on well-paid, familysupporting jobs, the gap between the rich and middle class has major implications for our collective prosperity. Middle-class incomes the rest of us grows ever wider. drive economic growth, pay for public Nothing epitomizes this situation more than the recent history of Air Canada. In the services, support healthy families, and build communities. Society cannot subsist last decade, Canada’s national carrier has suffered unprecedented financial turbulence, on crumbs left over by the rich. Workers including run-ins with bankruptcy protection. cannot accept the logic that relentless cuts and constant sacrifice will bring better days According to the Canadian Auto Workers’ 14 (OWN) Contact Fall 2011

ahead. Air Canada employees have already drawn a line in the sand during their current contract talks. They’ve resolved to make up ground on lost wages. They’ve rejected a program of two-tiering, which would make second-class workers of future generations. And in a recent show of solidarity, the CAW, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (three unions representing the lion’s share of Air Canada employees) rejected a company proposal to undercut and eventually eliminate the current defined benefit pension plan. By saying “no” to these demands, Air Canada employees are facing down the corporate-led riptide that’s pushing Canada’s middle class to the brink. With the company’s return to profitability in 2010 and a brighter future on the horizon, Air Canada’s demands for more cuts, fewer fulltime jobs, and outsourcing appear baseless. It’s made worse by CEO Calin Rovinescu’s hefty 76 per cent pay hike that landed him $4.55 million in compensation last year, a defined benefit pension that would pay him $351,000 per year at age 65, and a $5 million retention bonus he would be paid just for staying on the job until March 2012. His insistence that workers accept less reeks of hypocrisy. Not surprisingly, the frustration and anger among Air Canada employees is reaching a breaking point. Demonstrations have been taking place in communities across Canada, with impressive turnouts. CAW members recently voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action, as a last resort. They know that what’s

at stake in these negotiations goes far beyond their own self-interest. Air Canada is recognized as a world-class carrier and has received dozens of awards for quality service, largely because of its hardworking employees. It’s time they receive their fair share. The Air Canada battle is a principled fight about fairness and justice. It’s about reclaiming workers’ rights to good jobs, as well as our collective ability to demand better from employers and government. It’s about closing that ever-widening wealth gap and strengthening the middle class, for all Canadians. OWN Woman of the Year We have decided that the time has come for OWN to honour senior women with an annual award. We are creating an ad hoc committee to establish criteria for the selection process. The committee, to be chaired by Mary Hynes, will present its recommendations for selection criteria and procedures to the Board of Directors this spring. It is the Board’s wish that the first recipient can be announced in time for our 25th Anniversary celebrations. Please contact the OWN office at 416-214-1518 to join this important committee.

Remembering Dorothy Rath Dorothy Rath, poet and author of the recently published “An Unlikely Affair” died in May at age 89. Many OWN members will remember her February attendance at the OWN “Words Unleashed” poetry reading. Fall 2011

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OWN Calendar September to November 2011 Planning in advance can lead to scheduling problems, so be sure to check closer to the time on the OWN website:


Sep. 3 (Sat.) Sep. 7 (Wed.) Sep. 8 (Thu.) Sep. 13 (Tue.) Sep. 14 (Wed.) Sep. 21 (Wed.) Sep. 22 (Thu.) Sep. 23 (Fri.) Sep. 26 (Mon.)


Oct. 1 (Sat.) Oct. 5 (Wed.) Oct. 6 (Thu.) Oct. 11 (Tue.) Oct. 12 (Wed.) Oct. 18 (Tue.) Oct. 19 (Wed.) Oct. 20 (Thu.)


Nov. 2 (Wed.) Nov. 5 (Sat.) Nov. 8 (Tue.) Nov. 9 (Wed.) Nov. 10 (Thu.) Nov. 16 (Wed.) Nov. 24 (Thu.) Nov. 28 (Mon.) Nov. 30 (Wed.)

16 (OWN) Contact Fall 2011

See details for each event elsewhere in this issue Friendship Link Planning Meeting North York Book Discussion La Vie en Rose French Conversation OWN Co-op Book Group In My OWN Voice Writing Group Northern District Book Discussion Group La Vie en Rose French Conversation Older Women & Financial Literacy Older Women & Financial Literacy Friendship Link Planning Meeting North York Book Discussion Group La Vie en Rose French Conversation OWN Co-op Book Discussion Group In My Own Voice Writing Group Person’s Day [visit the OWN website for scheduled activities] Northern District Book Discussion Group La Vie en Rose French Conversation North York Book Discussion Group Friendship Link Planning Meeting OWN Co-op Book Discussion Group In My Own Voice Writing Group La Vie en Rose French Conversation Northern District Book Discussion Group La Vie en Rose French Conversation Older Women & Financial Literacy Older Women & Financial Literacy

Older Women's Network newsletter, Fall 2011  

Quarterly newsletter from advocacy organization in Toronto.