François’ Response to ACORN’s Candidates Survey

Learn more about Ottawa ACORN and the good work that they do advocating for our most vulnerable communities: Agenda for Change.  Here is my response to their survey:

Municipal Election Priorities: Democratic Rights

 Campaign Asks François’ response and position on the issue
That the City ensure section 6.1 is enforced (Province of Ontario, Municipal Elections Act) where polls are advised to be present “in buildings containing 100 or more dwelling units”. We would like to see the City of Ottawa pass a policy reflecting access to voting. YES. It makes absolute sense to me. The voting rate in Innes Ward is around 40%, therefore, if we want to increase the number of residents who vote, we need to make polls more accessible/available to residents.
We want to reduce barriers to voting and ensure equal citizen access to polling stations. We want a policy in place where voter population density informs where polling stations go and ensure polling stations open from 10am-8pm. YES. I would even go further, change election day to a Saturday instead of a Monday. Increase the voting hours to 8am-8pm, have the polls open early, a lot of people want to vote earlier than the current time (10 am).
The city should bring back door to door to find eligible voters. I am unsure about this topic. I would have to learn more about this process. Would it be conducted by volunteers, paid staff? One means to achieve this would be to provide the candidates who go door knocking the means to record voters currently not on the Voting List. Also, are we working with the province on this issue? They just went through an election a few months ago… Do we use the same Voters List (municipal and provincial)?

Municipal Election Priorities: Housing

Inclusionary zoning by-laws are a way for municipalities to use their development regulation and approval process to have private developers provide some affordable in all (or nearly all) market projects. Inclusionary zoning increases the amount of affordable housing stock and Ottawa needs help more than ever with a growing wait-list of over 10,000 families for affordable housing. YES. We need to put rules in place that regulates the % of inclusive housing for all development projects.

See also this post:

We need the City to enact Rental Replacement by-laws so in the case of redevelopment, such as in Herongate, affordable market rental units are not lost and replaced with higher market rental units. This would allow families to remain in their communities and prevent increasing waitlists for affordable housing. YES. We need to protect the rental units we currently have and support the addition of new units.
The single biggest problem related to housing identified by low-income families who rent in Ottawa is the problem with the state of dis-repair in apartment buildings. The problems are severe and include; massive pest infestations; elevators not working for long periods of time; problems with proper heating; safety issues related to doors not locked properly; and basic repairs in apartments that tenants are entitled to but not receiving.

In short, enforcement mechanisms at the municipal level need to be improved. There should be more severe consequences for negligent landlords and set timelines in which landlords need to do critical repairs as seen in the City of Toronto. We need Landlord Licensing, similar to Toronto, which would include a landlord registry, yearly inspections, increased enforcement and better standards of repair.

I AGREE.We need to make the delinquent and negligent landlord accountable for the repairs that are needed to bring all units to the desired standard.

Perhaps a program such as Toronto’s could be replicated here in Ottawa.

Municipal Election Priorities: Childcare

With Ontario’s childcare fees being the highest out of any province in the country and unaffordable & inaccessible childcare being the number one reason women list for not entering the workforce, we need childcare that is affordable, accessible and fair.

We need funding for affordable public/non-profit daycare spaces to be prioritized in lower income neighborhoods and communities

YES. I fully agree. We lived a similar situation when we lived in Halifax, NS, where we were paying over $100 a day for day care of a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old, back in 2005.That was a lot of money then and I understand that the current costs are likely higher. We need to help the families with lower income, with funding directly transferred to the day care.
Support asking the province to introduce geared to income childcare fees capped at $10/day. YES. I agree that the support should go to families in need and not across all families regardless of their income. Families who can afford it should pay for the full cost of day care.
Parents need easier access to information in order to understand Ontario’s patchwork childcare system. We need transparency and accountability to parents through a simplified online process and face to face assistance when applying for subsidies. I AGREE. I promote more transparency and accountability as part of my campaign. Two principles that we can also apply to our childcare system.
Expanded programming for parents who work non-standard hours (ie. shift work, overnights). I AGREE. We also need to consider families where both parents are sometimes working on shifts. Perhaps it is time to consider a 24hrs per day, 365 days a year (24/7) daycare facility, run by a NFP organization and sponsored by the City?

Municipal Election Priorities: Transit

Many low-income earners need public transit in order to survive. We believe transit should be free for those living on social assistance and geared to income for low-income earners, which should be no more than $43 a month. I AGREE IN PRINCIPLE. I agree that we should work toward a system with free transit access for those living on social assistance. I would have to study the numbers and see the cost of such a program. I would be more likely to agree to an immediate cut by 30% and work towards free transit over the next four years (30% now 1 December 2018, 20% at the end of each year 1 & 2 and 15% at the end of each year 3 & 4). This would allow Council to better integrate this service in OC Transpo’s budget and work the reduction into the overall City budget.
There should be no minimum payment to upload Presto passes for people under the low income measure. I AGREE. There should be no minimum for all! This is a simple change to be implemented in the software of the Presto system.
The City of Ottawa needs to ensure people with disabilities have increased access to transit.

Para-Transpo should implement an online booking system to help those with hearing impairments and to eliminate long wait-times with over the phone bookings.

I AGREE. I do not know why this is not in place already. Ottawa needs to become the leader for accessible and affordable public transit.

Municipal Election Priorities: Affordable Utilities

The City should ensure hydro rates are affordable for low-income earners- including those under Hydro One who often pay higher rates. Further, the City should reward low to moderate-income families who practice energy saving tactics. I AGREE. I believe that all families who practice energy saving tactics should be rewarded. In addition, those who waste energy (stores all lit-up overnight inside, where there is no one in sight) should be penalized through a much higher rate. They need to give the example and practice energy saving.

Municipal Election Priorities: Infrastructure

When the City engages in large infrastructure projects, they should also engage in Community Benefits Agreements. The new light rail system is a perfect opportunity to build community benefits agreements where developers are mandated to support social services in our communities.

Community Benefits Agreements should include:
– Living Wages for all workers during and after construction
– Local Hiring from low-to-moderate income community, including job training.
– Local decision making powers for community to decide what types of businesses, and community infrastructure (childcare, community centres) are put in post development
– Deep Affordable Housing provided to local residents

I AGREE.  Community Benefits Agreements should be considered for both large and smaller projects.Much like an environmental assessment is conducted when considering a project, we should include a social assessment and insist that where feasible, community benefits should be part of projects.
Invest in green infrastructure and maintain green space in low and moderate income neighbourhoods. I AGREE.One of the initiatives I am proposing as part of my campaign is electric buses. Toronto is currently conducting a study on electric buses and I believe Ottawa should team-up with Toronto and capitalize on that study.

I also agree that we need to protect the current green spaces we have, in all neighbourhoods.

Municipal Election Priorities: Zoning

Vanier, one of Ottawa’s working class neighbourhoods, holds the highest density per capita of predatory lenders in the country. However, the onslaught of predatory lenders has become a city-wide issue.

The City needs to license and limit the distances between payday lenders (and other fringe financial institutions) to stop the proliferation of predatory lenders in the city.

I AGREE.  We need to better regulate these types of establishments, who tend to prey on the residents that are the most in need.We need to restrict the number of establishments, their location and stop predatory lenders.

Municipal Election Priorities: Employment

The City of Ottawa should create an ethical purchasing strategy that protects workers’ wages and benefits and avoids contract flipping. I AGREE. The City of Ottawa needs to review their entire procurement policy. We need to buy local, from suppliers that have ethical and fair treatment policies, for both the suppliers of goods and services.
All employees working on city grounds should be paid a living wage. I AGREE IN PRINCIPLE. However, it might be difficult to regulate the wages of a contractor’s employees. We know the employers who pay a fair wage and let’s hope we continue to do business with them.