Friday, 20 February 2015

New TorontotheBetter enterprise Rebellion Gallery holding artists' reception - Saturday Feb.28,2015

Torontothebetter requests support for new maintenance co-op for housing co-ops

TorontotheBetter ally and associate Shawn Pelletier is organizing a maintenance co-op for housing co-ops. We wish him well. See below for details and to lend your support.

Dear Maintenance Orientated Housing Co-op Member,

            My name is Shawn Pelletier, and I am the Sector Delegate for Don Area Co-operative Homes (DACHI). I am writing to you, because I have been considering creating a non-profit cooperative to replace the contractors we currently use for maintaining our properties here in Toronto for quite some time now. In theory, the creation of this co-operative should reduce our overall cost of maintaining Toronto's housing co-ops by eliminating the contractor's fees from the equation. Furthermore, if we were to emphasise the hiring of unemployed members of our housing co-ops we could reduce our co-op's need for subsidies as a result. As we are nearing the end of our operating agreements, cost reducing measures of this nature could greatly contribute to the sustainability of our housing co-ops.

            In order to better explain the vision that I have for this non-profit co-op, I will outline the basic structure that I believe to be most sensible: The co-op could be a multi-stakeholder co-op; meaning it could have various kinds of members, namely workers and housing co-ops. Therefore, the co-op would be a worker/consumer co-op. We could offer memberships to housing co-ops as a means to raise our initial start-up capital. In exchange, housing co-ops would be able to participate in the co-op's GMMs and hold the co-op directly accountable for the quality of work done, and have their say in the pricing of the work. Using this co-operative model, this co-op would effectively become a sector organization to provide contractual services to our housing co-ops.

            Working for housing co-ops could just be the beginning of what may come for this co-op. There would be nothing binding us to solely serving housing co-operatives. We could sell our non-profit services to various kinds of organizations requiring building maintenance services, and in return we could expand beyond housing co-ops to hopefully provide regular work for our worker/members. With our non-profit approach we could uncut our competitors to maximize the amount of employment provided to low-income housing co-op members. The aim of this co-op would be to help sustain and eventually expand the co-operative housing model in Toronto.

            Personally, my vision for this not-for-profit co-operative would be realized if the potential surpluses went towards investing in new housing co-operatives. If this non-profit were to really take off it could have the capability of  being amongst such developments as the Oslo Housing and Savings Society co-operative in Oslo, Norway; having built approximately 100,000 homes that are represented by almost 400 new housing co-operatives. The Oslo Housing and Savings Society is definitely the true inspiration for me in starting this maintenance co-operative. Please see:  In my opinion, the initial framework of starting this endeavour would start with providing maintenance services to housing co-ops at cost. This would be an excellent place to begin a journey towards having a co-operative in Toronto that could have the strong potential to be in the position to develop and build new housing co-ops.

            I am currently looking to create a core group for the creation of this co-op. If you are interested in pursuing this exciting venture with me, please contact me so that we can start work on this project together and truly launch this idea. At the very least I believe we would be able to create some part-time employment for ourselves doing odd jobs for this city's housing co-ops. Contact me at:


Shawn Pelletier

Sector Delegate for Don Area Cooperative Homes Inc.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Policies That Build Community: Ryerson Forum, 27 Feb. 2015

This event came to our notice via the Toronto Social Forum:

Policies that Build Community - Is current Public Policy effective in helping to create a community where people belong?

DATE: Feb 27th, 9:30am-3:30pm
PLACE: Ryerson University, Jorgenson hall - Room POD250 (380 Victoria Street Toronto)

To register visit Community Living Ontario.

Community Living Ontario, in collaboration with the Ryerson School of Social Work, the Ryerson School of Disability Studies and the CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy is hosting a forum to explore this question. Through our discussions, we hope to help identify some priority issues that could be the focus of Community Living Ontario’s advocacy agenda.

Come and spend a day with some of Canada’s best thinkers on public policy and inclusion, including two leading experts: Sherri Torjman and Michael Prince.

Who Should Attend?

The event is open to anyone interested in being part of the discussion. We welcome members of Community Living Ontario along with all others who support community inclusion, including people with disabilities, family members, volunteers, service providers, students, educators, policy makers, etc.

Sherri Torjman
Sherri Torjman is Vice-President of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. Sherri is the author of the book Shared Space: The Communities Agenda. She has also written numerous Caledon reports including Reclaiming our Humanity, Caring for the Caregivers, Proposal for a National Personal Supports Fund, Five-Point Plan for Reforming Disability Supports, The Disability Income System in Canada: Options for Reform, and many others.

Michael Prince
Dr. Prince teaches policy and organizational analysis in public administration at the University of Victoria. Michael is the author of the book Absent Citizens: Disability Politics and Policy in Canada and is currently Co-Principal Researcher with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) on a five year communityuniversity alliance project entitled “Disability Poverty, Enabling Citizenship.”

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

"Building A Just Economy from the Ground Up" - lead story in For A Better World magazine

The lead story in the Fall 2014 issue of For a Better World magazine sounds a suitably bold ambition at a time when economies worldwide are still wondering how to rebuild after the 2008/2009 "Great Recession". And certainly Fair Trade policies and procedures between consuming powers and poor producers must be part of a serious alternative. To point out that internal economies must resist austerity, i.e. neoliberal social programme cutbacks, before serious change for all anywhere can occur is simply to remind ourselves that local and global economies are more integrated than ever before. As so many indigenous people experience daily, the "third world" is here in rich countries like Canada. Trying to solve international problems without attending  to our own is more than arrogant, it won't work.

To receive free copies of For Better World magazine, which is distributed by TorontotheBetter, email, better still, sign up to distribute the magazine yourself by visiting