Ottawa ACORN

404 McArthur Ave. (Heartwood House) Ottawa, ON K1K 1G8

Phone: 613-746-5999


Ottawa EMC: ACORN gets help from OPSEU

EMC News - For the third year in a row, Ottawa's branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada (ACORN Canada) was given a helping hand from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

OPSEU gave a donation of $5,000 for ACORN, a collection of community-based organizations that fights for the rights of the impoverished in cities across Canada.

Most recently, ACORN [Canada] provided free tax-return services and has been fighting for living wages and special diet allowances in government-based assistance programs.

" OPSEU's members provide a lot of services that ACORNs members rely on," said David Lundy, regional vice president for OPSEU. "We look at ACORN and see a group of like-minded community people who believe, as we do, people should come before profits and communities should come before corporations.

"We definitely put our support 100 per cent behind ACORN's drive to have a living wage in the City of Ottawa."
ACORN, on their behalf, was very appreciative of the donation.

"The donation was presented to us by OPSEU, which was deeply appreciated," said Wayne Mahoney, a volunteer with Ottawa ACORN.

Ottawa ACORN thanks OPSEU for continued support

March 14th, 2011 - Today, members of Ottawa ACORN are extending their warmest gratitude to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) for their continued support.

Dave Lundy, a regional Vice-President at OPSEU joined members Wayne Mahoney and Anthony Dipoce at the Ottawa ACORN office and presented a cheque for $5000.00 to support continue organizing in the city.

Ottawa ACORN members are looking forward to working with OPSEU throughout 2011 as their Living Wage Campaign comes before City Council and other initiatives continue to progress.  Labour-Community alliances like the one between OPSEU and Ottawa ACORN allow working families in and out of unions to collaborate on issues and campaigns of mutual concern.

Ottawa EMC: Community group tells government to 'have a heart' on Valentine's Day

EMC News - Friends and volunteers of the Ottawa Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now took to the streets on Valentine's Day to convince the provincial government to improve social assistance.

The protest at 351 Preston St. is the start of ACORN's 10 week campaign to increase social assistance rates, maintain special diet allowances, improve medical coverage, stop clawbacks in support, and support housing benefits.

To get the message across, ACORN will be releasing a story per week of the hardships faced by those living off of the Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program.

"We're taking ten people's stories of people receiving provincial assistance," said Kathleen Fortin, chair of Mechanicsville/Hintonburg ACORN and recipient of ODSP. "The amount that people are getting on assistance is not meeting their needs."

According to a release from ACORN, "many families spend most of their assistance benefits just to cover their rent and this is driving people into abject poverty. To bring the rates back up to pre-1995 levels adjusted for inflation would require a 50 per cent increase."

The protest had 26 members present. The group put together a Valentine's card to send to the McGuinty government, telling the provincial government to "have a heart."

"The thing we're complaining about, is when Mike Harris was in power, he significantly cut social programs," said Fortin.

Ottawa EMC: ACORN providing free tax returns for low income families

Low-income families throughout Ottawa won't have to worry about losing a portion of their tax return to processing fees this tax season.

The Ottawa chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now [Canada] (ACORN Canada) is providing free tax return service for the less privileged in the community.

The program is made possible through the efforts of volunteers like Keisha Lim, a fourth-year economics student at the University of Ottawa who is also serving as the tax clinic coordinator.

"On average, we save people around $80 by doing their taxes here," said Lim. "This is the third year that ACORN has been running the tax service. We have done 1,266 tax returns the last two years, and 244 for back taxes. We've put back $1.6 million into the neighbourhood through those savings."

This is the third year the program has been serving the community, and has done roughly 600 returns per year.

"We're here to help people," said Lim. "Instead of putting money in the pockets of corporations, we're letting people keep that money themselves."

The program has helped people from all over the Ottawa area, from places as far away as North Grenville, Kanata, and Orleans.

Ottawa Citizen: Tax clinics bridge gap for low-income earners

ACORN [Canada] and other antipoverty organizations offer those in need affordable tax-filing alternatives to paying hefty fees for instant cash refunds, Don Butler writes.

Last year, Wayne Mahoney paid a company $130 to prepare his income-tax return and issue him an instant tax refund. The fee was painful, but he urgently needed the money to pay some bills. "It's a big hole in my pocket," says Mahoney, 55, who lives with his wife in subsidized housing in Ottawa's west end on a $1,500-a-month disability pension. "I basically came out on the short end of the stick." Mahoney needs help with his taxes because, he admits, "I don't understand the tax system. And if you can't understand the tax system, you can't win."

This year, though, he's getting his tax return done at no charge by volunteers at Ottawa ACORN, the local chapter of a national anti-poverty organization. It's the third year that Ottawa ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has offered the free tax-preparation service. In the past two years, it has filed 1,266 tax returns for low-and moderate-income Ottawans.

PERC: Red Tents or Affordable Housing?


Jan 16th - The article below is taken from the Peace and Environment Resource Centre in Ottawa, written by Denise Deby.

Dozens of red tents appeared on Parliament Hill last October 19. The tents marked Canada Day of Action for a Federal Housing Strategy, held to coincide with the third reading in Parliament of Bill C-304, "An Act to Ensure Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing for Canadians."

About 150 housing advocates from Ottawa, Toronto, London and Montreal, along with the public, attended a rally on Parliament Hill and at the Human Rights Monument. Related events took place in 10 other Canadian cities. Over 20 national and local housing groups organized the tent event. They include Pivot Legal Society, Canada Without Poverty (CWP) Advocacy Network, ACORN Canada, Impact on Communities Coalition, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, and le Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU).

The idea of using red tents to draw attention to governments' responsibility for housing as a human right came from campaigns in France in 2006 and in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics.

In Canada, an estimated 300,000 people are homeless, with millions more in substandard or unaffordable housing, reports the non-profit Wellesley Institute. In Ottawa, over 10,000 households are waitlisted for social housing. In 2009, 7,500 people in Ottawa stayed in emergency shelters, according to the Alliance to End Homelessness.

Read the full original article at: Organization fights against what it calls social injustice

Jan 21st - came out with a great piece looking at Ottawa ACORN's work to ensure that Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recieve the funding they deserve, it's reproduced below:

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now’s (ACORN Canada) latest campaign is getting set to launch. This year they want to make politicians sit up and notice there needs to be improvements to the social assistance system.

ACORN [Canada]’s purpose is to fight for social justice for low income families across Canada. There are 30,000 members in 20 neighbourhood chapters in six Canadian cities.

“We are focused on two points in this campaign – to increase the rates of Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program and ensure that the special diet allowance program remains in place,” ACORN board member Kathleen Fortin said.

The meeting will address member’s issues and work on building a strategy on how to get the attention of provincial candidates, MPPs and opposing parties as they get ready to start their 2011 election campaign across Ontario. Fortin said she hopes they will be able to make candidates take note of the needs of those living on an Ontario Works income.

The special diet allowance helps people on Ontario Works and on Ontario Disability Support program manage their health needs, such as diabetes. The McGuinty government announced in March 2010 that changes to the special diet will take place, meaning some who were once eligible for the extra $250 a month allowance will no longer be eligible. Fortin wants the special diet allowance to also be addressed because of concerns members have had about notices they received questioning their diet needs.