Happy International Women's day: Toronto's mayor spares two minutes for women protesting services cuts

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March 2, 2011

Our city, our services, our future: Toronto women deliver letter to mayor Ford on service cuts

Facing cuts to key public services including transit, libraries, recreation, and community centres, women representing diverse communities and groups gathered on Wednesday to give a letter to the Mayor and to ask that services be reinstated. On March 12, Toronto women will rally to defend city services as they mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

"Committed and courageous women take on issues in their neighbourhoods every day and these cuts will seriously undermine their work to bring change to their communities," said Rosemarie Powell from the Jane Finch Community and Family Centre. Powell was one of many women speaking at a press conference held at City Hall.

"This is real -- when bad policies are made, women are usually the first ones to be directly impacted. We can't just simply walk away. Our lives are embedded in our neighbourhoods, places where our children should be safe to learn and grow."

Other speakers stressed that the City's budget decisions will have a direct impact on women's safety.

"My bus route is going to be cut after 10 pm starting May 8 and women like me who live and work in Scarborough are going to be particularly affected," said Hafsa Zarook from the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians. "There have been service cuts in 41 bus routes and this is going to affect marginalized communities, including racialized women like me that need transit to meaningfully participate in the city and get around safely."

Women attempting to deliver a letter to Mayor Ford were told only one of them could meet with him and no media would be allowed in.

Women said the mayor should meet them all as after all women and girls are 52 per cent of Toronto's residents. They said, he should uphold his promise of always being available to meet the residents of Toronto.

Thirty minutes later Mayor Ford turned up to meet the women. When women told the mayor about the impacts of the cuts in transit, recreational, and immigrant settlement services on them, his response was that he was elected to "make the city efficient," and that is what he was doing.

He did not respond as to why the cuts and "efficiencies" were being made at the expense of low-income women and children and all low income Torontonians and was quickly whisked away by this press secretary. It is a sad day for Toronto when the mayor can only spare two minutes to speak with the women of the city.

The letter delivered to Mayor Ford called on City Hall to prioritize the maintenance and funding of city services. Citing the disproportionate impact of cuts on women and girls, the letter encouraged all levels of government to work together to ensure that city services are accessible and affordable for all.

A copy of the letter is available to read on the Toronto International Women's Day's Facebook page. 

The Toronto International Women's Day Organizing Committee is a coalition of women's groups, immigrant women's organizations, unions, student federations and women from a range of organizations working on issues of equality and equity in the city.


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