The YWCA values the overall well-being of those in our community and believes that everyone should have access to basic human needs. Having a roof over your head should never be an issue. The YW works alongside many local businesses, volunteers, and donors to ensure that the women and children of the Niagara Region have access to food, water, and a place to either temporarily or permanently call home. We offer a range of housing programs, skills development programs, community support programs and anything else we can do to support women and children to be as comfortable as possible during their time of crisis.
As we begin to see a light at the end of this Covid-19 pandemic, the dark reality is that during the pandemic the emerging negative data and reports around gender-based violence have continued to increase substantially. As a charity that focuses our efforts on abolishing gender-based violence and the well-being of women and children, we are aware that something needs to change on a provincial scale to combat the effects on a smaller scale.
The YWCA is calling on the provincial government to choose gender equity during the upcoming 2022 election. Women and families in the Niagara Region who continue to face unequivocal hardships throughout the pandemic would benefit from the province incorporating the following campaign demands:
- Increase social assistance rates to at least $2000 per month
- Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates should be raised immediately to $2000 per month to reflect the federal government’s benchmark of a minimum income security program.
- Invest in increases to OW and ODSP until monthly benefits reflect this minimum standard, ensuring that people living with disabilities have access to additional support.
- Ensure women and other people with precarious immigration status have access to income supports and an expedited path to permanent residency.
- Invest in a continuum of housing options for women and gender diverse people – including safe, affordable housing, emergency shelters, transitional and supportive programs
- Invest in a range of supportive housing for specific communities of women including Indigenous women and Two-Spirit People, senior women, and trans communities.
- Invest in appropriate and culturally-responsive housing supports to ensure women, particularly survivors of violence and women with experiences of chronic homelessness, institutionalization and substance abuse, can maintain housing.
- Invest in a provincial Portable Housing Benefit to ensure women and other people experiencing income instability can maintain their housing.
- Sign the Federal child care agreement to create a publicly-funded child care system that is affordable for families and adequately compensates educators
- Address the shortage of early childhood educators and improve the long-term affordability and accessibility of child care by providing enough funding to pay child care workers at least $25 per hour.
- Ensure federal child care dollars support a public and non-profit-driven expansion of child care services that offer a range of flexible models for quality early learning.
- Prioritize immediate support for non-profit child care centres that are currently operating at a deficit to ensure these spots do not permanently close.
- Implement decent work conditions for women that include gender-inclusive upskilling and other employment programs
- Raise Ontario’s employment standards to a decent work floor for care workers and all workers, including minimum wages that reflect living wages and adequate paid sick days. Ensure all workers in our province, including seasonal workers, have access to minimum employment standards.
- Invest in multi-year funding for employment, training and upskilling programs for women and ensure programs are offered by women-focused organizations. Modify Employment Ontario program to include women as a priority category in order to ensure clear gender targets in funding allocations.
- Take meaningful action to address gender and racial pay disparities and ensure care work is decent work by enhancing public expenditures in the public and non-profit care economy.
Violence Against Women and Gender Diverse People
- Create and implement a coordinated province wide strategy to eliminate gender-based violence
- Support permanent, multi-year operating funding for organization’s providing support to women and gender diverse people, including violence against women shelters, transitional housing, child care, girls’ programs, prevention and education work and employment programs.
- Eliminate red tape that prevents women without status from being able to attain housing and social assistance, including child benefits;
- Repeal Bill 124, which disproportionately impacts women-dominated fields that support women, girls and gender-diverse people, such as transitional housing and shelter employees, child care workers and nurses, the very fields that bore the brunt of the pandemic.
The YWCA is calling on the provincial election candidates to make the above issues a top priority this election season as these demands must be met for the overall wellbeing of women, girls, children, and gender-diverse people. The time for action is now, it is time to prioritize gender equity and raise the floor for everyone in Ontario. Sign the petition and share it with your networks to show your support.