KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Last Saturday the hardworking people at ACORN Nova Scotia launched a list of demands that they hope anti-austerity activists and organizations in the province can sign off on.
The document addresses not just housing and rental issues, but also demands government action on inadequate welfare rates and minimum wage, paid sick days, payday loan sharks, and more.
There are other issues, at the federal and municipal level, that ACORN is pushing for, but for the purposes of this call to action ACORN’s focus is on the provincial government.
“There is a desperate need to push a progressive platform and agenda in this province,” said Lina Hamid, chair of the ACORN Halifax mainland chapter, at the virtual launch.
“We’ve had some really big wins around housing and rent control in this last year. But we do need to think bigger and in a more multifaceted way, and work together in bettering our communities from all angles. There’s strength in numbers,” said Hamid.
Several groups have already signed off on the list of demands. Among the speakers expressing their support on Saturday was the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, and the Fight for 15 and Fairness campaign, while CUPE Nova Scotia president Nan McFadgen expressed her personal commitment and intends to raise the demands with the CUPE executive board.
Housing issues, including the fight against slum landlords, rent control, and an eviction moratorium, are among the issues ACORN is best known for here in Nova Scotia, and the manifesto reflects that. The group is asking for government grants so no one pays more than 30% of their income in rent, and also wants a tenants relief fund to help tenants who fell behind because of the pandemic
“What we are asking for is pretty simple, there was all sorts of support for all sorts of groups during the pandemic, but where was the support for renters,” asked Hannah Wood, Chair of the Halifax-Peninsula ACORN chapter.
Other ACORN housing demands include a full eviction ban, hotels and vacant units for people sleeping in shelters and on the streets, inclusionary zoning ensuring that 30% of new housing is affordable and the allocation of more money for public housing.
On the labour front the group is supporting the Fight for 15 demands, and wants to see 10 paid sick days for all workers.
As well, picking up on another long term campaign by ACORN, the group wants to regulate the payday loan sharks whose presence is so prominent in Halifax’s poorer neighborhoods.
Here ACORN is asking that the maximum interest rate in Nova Scotia on payday and installment loans be lowered from 60% down to 30%. As well, it is asking for a reduction of the maximum cost of borrowing for pay-day loans from $19 per $100 borrowed to $15 per $100 borrowed. As well, it wants supports for people who have been caught in the loan sharks’ nets and have trouble getting themselves untangled..
It is great to see the list of demands relating to the folks struggling (and failing) to make ends meet on social assistance and disability allowances, a topic that the Nova Scotia Advocate has exhaustively covered in detail over the years.
“100% of the families that rely on government support, live in poverty. The new premier is making over $200,000 a year, which means our premier makes more in one month than people on income assistance or disability to live off of for a whole year. That’s mind blowing,” said ACORN member Ivan.
On Tuesday Province House will sit again after an unprecedented year-long hiatus. ACORN Nova Scotia has organized a rally that same morning.
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