Greetings again Passengers,

Your main man (god, I’m so sorry) Robert (@robert_hiltz) is here again to bring you some of what’s going on. How’s your Monday? I realized halfway through my shower that ‘Hey, do I have to do something today? But that can’t be right, there was nothing in my calendar. OH WAIT I FORGOT TO PUT THE NEWSLETTER IN MY CALENDAR.’ Good times.

Anyhow, today’s stories are about how: frontline workers can’t afford to live in Toronto; the biggest polluter in the federal government is the military; international travel restrictions have been extended into January; while there’s a pandemic going on, Ontario is evicting as many people as possible as fast as possible.

Here’s that news.

We Love Our Frontline Heroes So Much, We Make It Too Expensive To Live Where They Work

Back in those weird, heady days of March, it was possible to believe for a second or two that the phrase, “We’re all in this together” had something real to it. By now, that’s long gone. All the talk of how our frontline workers, the people in grocery stores and fast food kitchens, were essential and important led to stuff like so-called “hero pay,” which was pulled as soon as things had a whiff of seeming better.

But while the giving and then taking of an income boost in a terrible situation is bad, it only helps to highlight how the people doing the jobs that are essential for us to get through our days have been left behind by the world.

Look no further than Toronto. It’s one of Canada’s most expensive places to live — so expensive that working as a grocery store clerk making $44,000 a year still doesn’t get you enough to afford a place to live. 

A Toronto Star story highlights the story of Rechev Browne, who had to give up living in a house with three other people — paying $1,150 per month for that privilege — to move back in with his mom in a two-bedroom apartment.

There are some upsides for him, including that it’s cheaper. But there’s more. 

From the Star: His 15-minute bike commute is now a 90-minute bus trip to work. When he boards the bus at 5 a.m., he says it is packed “like sardines” with people of colour — folks like him who can’t risk being late for work.

The Star’s story pulls from a report co-written by Toronto Region Board of Trade and WoodGreen Community Services, a major affordable housing provider in the city. According to the report, about 330,000 people in the city make a similar salary to Browne, between $40,000 to $60,000 per year. Their solution seems simple enough: build more housing. But that usually requires neighbourhood buy in, which is often impossible.

In the meantime, things are not getting any easier for people like Browne: “You’re working harder but you’re not making more money … It’s beyond you, it’s just the housing market and how expensive it is. Housing prices aren’t going down during COVID. In some cases, they’re actually going up.”

Canada’s Worst Federal Government Polluter Is The Military

  • The Department of National Defence is the biggest federal polluter, according to the government’s own figures, generating 543,000 tonnes of GHG emissions in the 2019-20 fiscal year. But, perhaps surprisingly, these aren’t from tanks, planes and ships — the bulk of the emissions are from operating the department’s 20,000 buildings, and building projects like runways and roads. 
  • The military is by far the largest federal polluter, emitting more than the next eight emitting departments combined. Public Services and Procurement, and Correctional Services are the next largest GHG emitters with 117,000 and 116,000 tonnes of emissions respectively.

The Pandemic Rolls On, And So Do Travel Restrictions

  • The government has extended international travel restrictions into the country until Jan. 21, 2021. Anyone coming into the country will need to be in isolation for 14 days.
  • The feds are looking at the possibility of holding international sporting events in Canada from “high-performance, amateur sporting organizations.” What that would look like hasn’t been spelled out directly, but would require a public health plan approved by provincial authorities as well as the federal government. 
  • These restrictions apply to everywhere but the United States, which has its own special set of restrictions negotiated separately. Those restrictions last until December 21.

ICYMI: Despite COVID-19, Ontario Pushes Ahead With Evictions At Horrifying Pace

Despite the ongoing pandemic, or perhaps because of it, evictions in Ontario are happening at a blistering pace. The provincial Landlord and Tenant Board is trying to blaze through a backlog of more than 22,000 cases as quickly as possible. 

Eviction cases are being prioritized ahead of everything else, often resulting in orders being issued for evictions to take place within 11 days, referred to by the anodyne term “standard order.” It’s impossible for advocates with the Tenant Duty Counsel Program (TDCP) to keep up with and provide effective support for the people in need.

It’s a nightmare of overlapping issues. People on the verge of being tossed from their homes are forced to wait in long phone queues or on Microsoft Teams for hours only to have their case dealt with in a flash, with little time for recourse. Where once advocates could be in the room to help tenants through their cases, now people are left hanging, their possible technical issues be damned.

Here’s one of the more troubling passages from a recent Globe and Mail report:

Members [of the TDCP] described such conditions as notifications routinely not getting to tenants; accommodations not being made for legally blind tenants (who cannot read the phone properly to access the dial-in system), and tenants who are ahead of schedule on repayment plans still getting an eviction order — some applications took as little as 60 seconds to result in a “standard order” and document sharing systems that require access to computers and the internet.

It’s horrific, and the government seems happy to let it play out no matter the circumstances. Meanwhile, it’s been another record day for COVID cases.

That’s all for today, friends. Remember, we’re all under this boot together!

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