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Toronto passes municipal Access Without Fear policy after marathon debate
February 22, 2013Over one hundred Torontonians, including undocumented immigrants denied city services, were in City Hall today for a nail-biting, marathon debate, to see Toronto vote on ensuring accessible
services to people without full immigration status or papers. In doing so, Toronto City Council became the first city in Canada to pass an Access Without Fear policy at the municipal level.
The policy "reaffirms Toronto's commitment to provide access to services without fear". City Hall also instructed Chris Brillinger, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration to put together a report on how to improve access to services without fear including training, a complaints protocol and a communications blitz by September 2013.
The Solidarity City Network, a coalition of community organizations representing and advocating for immigrants and refugees, had urged City Council to adopt motion CD 18.5 that was passed in committee due to significant community pressure and input from activists, advocates and courageous undocumented people themselves. Also included in the motion were demands for city advocacy to the provincial and federal governments around access to services and immigration status.
*Leonardo Zuniga, a settlement worker, who lived seven years in Toronto without full immigration status and is a member of the Solidarity City Network says*, Today, Toronto started on the path of ensuring real safety for all its residents. Now, we need to make sure that services actually
become accessible. We need to make sure that the province and feds also pull their weight.
*Tzazna Miranda Leal, a community legal worker and members of Solidarity City Network says*, Over a hundred community members came to City Hall because we believe that people should not be denied basic services just because of their immigration status. For too long this policy has been
inconsistent, there hasn't been enough communication and training for city staff is insufficient. Thanks to this victory, we now look forward to a process which can keep our city policies accountable to our communities.
*Nell Toussaint, a refugee from Grenada who has lived with precarious status in Toronto since 1999*, says Today the City of Toronto passed a policy, now I hope that I and other people like me can get healthcare and basic services. I look forward to seeing this policy actually become
The Solidarity City Network is made up of Health for All, Immigration Legal Committee of Toronto, Justice for Migrant Workers, Law Union of Ontario, No One Is Illegal Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Roma Community Centre, Social Planning Toronto, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, South Asian Women's Rights Organization, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, The Wellesley Institute and Workers Action Centre. Additionally, Motion 18.5 is supported by Advocacy Centre for Tenants of Ontario (ACTO), Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention, AWCCA at George Brown College, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, GOAL, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change and Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.
For more information contact:
Solidarity City Network
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