Please join us at our Outreach Centre on February 14th, 2019 between 10 am and 5pm to honor the contributions of Black people and celebrate African culture.
Please join us at our Outreach Centre on February 14th, 2019 between 10 am and 5pm to honor the contributions of Black people and celebrate African culture.
Abuse Can Happen to Anyone. We are here for her and her children every step of the way. This season, please give generously and help us keep our shelter doors open and our vital outreach services running. Together we can end violence in our communities and ensure home is safe for everyone.
Annual Growing Women’s Health campaign raises critical funds to support women and children
Toronto, Ontario, October 16, 2018 – Women’s Habitat is calling on residents of Etobicoke to support women and children who are survivors of violence. From October 6th to November 2nd, residents can donate to the Growing Women’s Health campaign at local Shoppers Drug Mart locations. Donations go directly to local charities to support women’s health initiatives.
At Women’s Habitat we rely heavily on donations from our community to provide women with the support and resources they need,” said Silvia Samsa, Women’s Habitat’s Executive Director. “Through the Shoppers Drug Mart Growing Women’s health fundraising campaign, members of the Etobicoke community can make a big difference in the lives of women by making donations both big and small.”
Each fall, the campaign provides customers with the opportunity to purchase and personalize a Growing Women’s Health icon, which are prominently displayed on the Growing Women’s health tree in all participating stores. Make a difference and support women in communities across Canada by visiting any local participating Shoppers Drug Mart store and purchase a “leaf” for a toonie, a “butterfly” for $5, an “apply” for $10 or a “blue bird” for $50.
The Growing Women’s Health campaign is a four-week program held across Canada and is one of the leading partnership programs of the SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. platform – the Company’s commitment to improving the health of all Canadian women in body, mind and spirit. National in scope, yet locally-based, the annual Growing Women’s Health campaign offers patients, customers and employees the opportunity to donate directly to the organizations that make a difference in their own communities. Since 2002, the Growing Women’s Health campaign has raised more than $35 million for Canadian health charities. In 2018, over 500 women’s health charities across Canada will benefit from the campaign’s proceeds with 100 per cent of funds staying in the community where they are raised.
About Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke
Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke is a community-based feminist organization providing lifesaving support to women and their children who are survivors of violence. Founded in 1978, our emergency shelter provides counselling and safe refuge and our outreach centre, established in 2006, offers a suite of services including group and individual counselling, parenting support and housing assistance.
About SHOPPERS LOVES YOU.
SHOPPERS LOVES YOU represents the organization’s commitment to improving the health of all Canadian women in body, mind and spirit. Brought to life through eight partnership programs, created with leading experts and institutions in women’s health, this national initiative connects women to health information and resources that help ensure their health only gets stronger. More information can be found at shoppersloveyou.ca.
About Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation
Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing. The Company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec). With more than 1,300 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the Company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada. The Company also licenses or owns 46 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec) and four luxury beauty destinations operating as Murale. As well, the Company owns and operates 43 corporate Shoppers Home Healthcare stores, two new Wellwise by Shoppers Drug Mart stores and an ecommerce site Wellwise.ca, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services. In addition to its retail store network, the Company owns Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Technologies Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities. Shoppers Drug Mart is an independent operating division of Loblaw Companies Limited.
For more information, visit www.shoppersdrugmart.ca.
For more information please contact Sojie Tate, Communications and Human Resources Manager, Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke at email@example.com 416-252-7949 Ext. 244 or 416-576-4447 or visit www.womens-habitat.ca
Etobicoke, Ontario (August 20, 2018) –Oak Learners donated five weeks of summer camp to Women’s Habitat’s youngest service users, providing them a summer to remember. Kelly Farrell, Director at Oak Learners, remarked that, “contributing to our community is an integral part of the educational experience at Oak Learners; it is important for us to be able to give this opportunity to children who would otherwise have not been able to attend summer camp.”
Summer camps at Oak Learners provide a unique camp experience, designed to engage naturally inquisitive and active children. A typical day for all campers includes a morning yoga session, fun art, crafts and musical activities throughout the day, followed by an outdoor adventure trip to a local park or nature trail. “Time spent playing outdoors and engaged in free play with peers is so important to help youth develop important self-regulation and problem solving skills” says Farrell. The camp introduces mindfulness techniques to the children, modeled by the teachers. All students are mentored to recognize different feelings in their body, both emotionally and physically, which help to increase self-awareness and resilience habits.
Key benefits of the programming at Oak Learners include inquiry-based curriculum with full arts-integration, low student-teacher ratios and daily mindfulness practice. The intentional integration of arts programming and mindfulness is designed to encourage creativity and individuality in all children. The Ontario Ministry of Education recognized the “substantial and important connections between creativity, high academic achievement, economic and social entrepreneurialism, leadership, and problem solving” in its 21st Century Competencies discussion document, published in 2013.
“This experience has been incredible for the kids, many of whom have never had the opportunity to attend summer camp.” says Silvia Samsa, Women’s Habitat’s Executive Director, “We feel incredibility fortunate to have this partnership.”
At Women’s Habitat we are committed to challenging the misogynistic social norms that reinforce the oppression of women identified individuals and their children. Sex education is a critical part of challenging those norms. Through a sex education curriculum that embraces diversity and teaches bodily autonomy, we can provide children the foundation they need to make choices that are best for their health. In addition, we can ensure our school systems are inclusive and safe for all students. Through our 40 years of providing support for survivors of violence, we know women and children who are not provided accurate sexual health information and are not informed of their rights are more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
We are honoured to sign on WomanACT‘s letter to the Minister of Education, the Honourable Lisa Thompson, along with 87 other agencies and individuals who acknowledge that current, comprehensive and inclusive sex education is vital to preventing gender based violence.
We look forward to working in partnership to provide all young people the sexual health information and support they deserve.
On June 6th, 2018, our organization sent the feedback we collected from our community forum which was attended by women who have been greatly impacted by our City’s housing crisis. Many women continue to share with us that lack of safe, affordable housing is a main barrier to leaving violence. Housing is a human right and it can be the difference between life and death. We are hopeful that the expertise of those with lived experience will be valued and their contributions will inform the National Housing Strategy. You can read their reflections below and learn more about the National Housing Strategy at https://www.placetocallhome.ca/
Human Rights-Based Approach to Housing: Feedback
Our organization is Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke. Our mission is to provide a safe refuge, counselling, support and advocacy for women and their children who are fleeing violence; while also working towards a more equal society where the inherent value of all women is recognized and celebrated. We serve approximately 900 women and their dependents annually through our outreach centre and emergency shelter. The vast majority of the women we work with live in poverty and experience precarious housing or homelessness.
The reflections of three women with lived experience and our services participated in conversations for the summary in this report. These participants are passionate, vocal advocates for change in accessibility to affordable, sustainable and adequate housing which includes supportive, transitional, emergency and shelter housing.
We strongly support the federal government’s commitment to creating an encompassing human rights based National Housing Strategy. It is commendable. In particular, the dedication of 25 percent funding and supporting programs being allocated to housing women and girls is of significance to our organization’s work in supporting and empowering women and their families. We wholeheartedly endorse the principle of transparency.
However, the consensus from our knowledgeable contributors was that the National Housing Strategy falls short in the areas of accountability, transparency, benchmarks and the inclusion of lived experience. The following captures the insightful reoccurring themes from the conversations.
The women questioned, expressed concern and asserted a need for accountability throughout all facets of the implementation. One participant stated “There needs to be follow through after decisions are made. Did the decision work for the individual? If not, then the decision needs amending.” This would include, but not be solely limited to the Office of the Housing Advocate, Adjudication Panel and the National Housing Council. Another proclaimed “The government would be duty-bound and must be held culpable in ensuring that all housing right are enforced legally or otherwise. The government must set the example in assuring that all actions on housing rights are positively implemented. It must do what it says it will do.” In addition, came the comment “The new legislation should be able to grant autonomous power to accountability bodies in relation to the governance of the strategy with provision for timely review of the implementation of strategies.”
In line with the need for accountability, transparency was cited as a requirement in the following response: “…there should be transparency at every levels of government in conceptualizing, planning and providing funding and implementing objectives aimed at achieving the highest standard of housing rights and benefits.” Another participant simply said “Promote, encourage and instill transparency throughout all processes.”
One group member expressed “…a nice report but benchmarks are missing…reports will be provided every 3 years…but I think that every year would be better, even if it’s a much shorter report with numbers only, rather than verbose discussions.” Another opinion was “I think the report needs specific performance benchmarks, budget and details on how they plan to achieve the targets and reliever some of the demand pressure on our rental market.”
Including, actively recruiting, adequate positioning and compensating the expertise of those with lived in experience is essential. Acceptance and inclusion is critical in the housing strategy. One of our participants asserted “People with lived experience must be included in the Office of the Housing Advocate and have full consultative authority.” A community member stated a more balanced ratio of consultants and staff in all offices involved is critical.
We enthusiastically support the legislative framework items proposed win “Implementing the Human Right to Housing in Canada’s National Housing Strategy” paper by Emily Paradis and Bruce Porter. The framework items garnered the following responses:
The participants strongly agree the legislation must affirm the right to adequate housing as defined by international law with comments such as “…the physiological need of human beings for housing i.e. shelter from the elements, on a continuous basis should be among the first order of business of any government, especially in countries like Canada where the disastrous effect of the four seasons are severely manifested.”, and “The NHS must also be adaptable i.e. flexible, easily modified with changing situations…The first element of an adequate housing strategy must therefore to bring housing as close as possible to where people live and work but that is not the case in Canada…The wide variance between demand and supply must be remedied immediately.”
As mentioned above in the section on benchmarks, the participants approve benchmarks, goals, timelines and clear responsibilities for all levels of government.
The participants feel the mandates should synergistically have authority, clearly state issues and squarely address solutions to the problem of insufficient, inadequate, excessively priced and therefore unsustainable housing. One group member voiced “If homeless, children, dependents, vulnerable community member’s timeline should be priority.” Another stated “I do have a concern that the focus is rights based, not solutions based.”
Thank you for the opportunity of capturing and showcasing the comments, opinions, ideas and feedback of the women we serve in our community who are directly affected and challenged in obtaining, securing and sustaining adequate housing and shelter for themselves and their families. We stand alongside our fellow Canadians, newcomers and those seeking refuge and maintain our commitment to leverage our position in this integral role. The undertaking that is crucial to human existence: adequate housing for all Canadians regardless of race, sex, gender, religion, socio-economic status or disability. We look forward to participating in each of the upcoming phases and witnessing eventual realization of this monumental strategy.
Signed by Julia Fiddes, Shelter Program Manager
On the behalf of the women who volunteered to participate is this forum.
It is with mixed emotions that I announce the resignation of our Manager of Policy and Programs, Leila Sarangi. Leila’s work with Women’s Habitat began in 2014. Her impactful advocacy efforts and innovative program development greatly raised the public profile of our agency. During her time at Women’s Habitat, Leila successfully engaged Toronto City Council and policy makers in understanding the value of using an intersectional gender lens in budget and policy development. Her poverty reduction and civic engagement initiatives have been invaluable to the women we serve, and all women experiencing poverty, violence and marginalization. As a Program Manager, Leila and her team effectively developed new and innovative community programs designed to provide economic and leadership opportunities for women with lived experience. In June, Leila will be starting a new chapter as Executive Director of Springtide Resources, a Toronto based organization providing training and resources to decrease the incidence of violence against women. On behalf of myself and the entire Board of Directors, I wish Leila the very best in her new role and look forward to working with her as a sector and community partner.
Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke
On May 14, 2018 Women’s Habitat’s Manager of Policy and Programs Leila Sarangi and Consultant Emily Paradis submitted their deputation on Intersectional Gender Budgeting to the City’s Executive Committee (see details of the meeting here) . Their recommended next steps included an overarching intersectional gender equity strategy for application in all policy-making, an intersectional gender equity framework to guide budget decisions, a disaggregated data strategy, and engagement of women directly affected in these initiatives.
May 12, 2018
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: EX34.9 EQUITY RESPONSIVE BUDGETING
Submitted by Emily Paradis and Leila Sarangi
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today regarding the staff report on Equity Responsive Budgeting. We understand this report to be an update to this committee as part of the third set of motions that have been adopted in as many years on developing an Intersectional Gender Budgeting Tool for the City.
Today we want to express our ongoing support for the work the City is doing to move forward with gender and equity budgeting and analysis. We are also here to recommend next steps, including an overarching intersectional gender equity strategy for application in all policy-making, an intersectional gender equity framework to guide budget decisions, a disaggregated data strategy, and engagement of women directly affected in these initiatives.
We have been working with city staff in various capacities to help inform the development and implementation of intersectional and gender equity analysis on the poverty reduction strategy and the city’s budget. This past year, we participated in the External Review Committee that analyzed and reported on the potential equity impacts of proposed service level changes to the 2018 budget.
We want to commend the work that staff have done to date on developing the budget tool that centres gender as well as income in its analysis of equity impacts. We are pleased to see that there is a commitment to continue to develop this work over the next two budget cycles. We are very pleased to see that three City strategies will explicitly apply a gender analysis that will inform the development, implementation and evaluation of their objectives and actions. An intersectional gender equity lens will significantly enhance the next phases of the Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy and the Housing Opportunities Toronto Action Plan 2020-2030.
The application of intersectional gender analysis in these three strategies will also provide an opportunity to test and refine approaches to setting intersectional gender-based policy objectives to guide future budgets. We look forward to the expansion of an intersectional gender equity analysis into all areas of City fiscal decision-making, including Planning, Transit, Infrastructure and other areas whose impacts for intersectional gender equity in our City are significant but under-recognized.
Centering gender within an equity analysis is crucial to addressing inequalities in our City.
Income inequality, as the Mayor has said many times, is the greatest challenge facing our city. Income inequality is fundamentally gendered, with a persistent wage gap that grows significantly wider for women who are racialized, Indigenous, and differently abled. We are the child poverty capital in Canada, and that is an indicator of the poverty rates among mothers in Toronto.
Violent crime has gone down, with the exception of sexual assault and domestic violence rates, both of which are gendered crimes, with women, trans and children making up the vast majority of victims of these crimes. As with poverty, certain groups face higher rates of violence, including Indigenous women, young women, and women with cognitive and/or physical disabilities.
Women who are struggling with income insecurity and violence are more reliant on city services to stay safe and make ends meet, including deeply affordable housing, affordable childcare, transit, and recreation programs.
Applying an intersectional gender lens to policy and budget is not about favouring one group over another, or taking services away from anyone. It is about ensuring that programs and services are reaching everyone who needs it so no one is left behind. The response to the shelter crisis this winter provides a good example of where an intersectional gender equity strategy would have helped serve all of those who needed it. During this crisis, there were not enough beds added to the system, and the ones that were, did not meet the needs of the many refugee mothers with children who were landing on the doorstep of women-serving organizations. In spite of the best efforts of women’s organizations, these residents were often unable to find appropriate emergency shelter in Toronto’s system for themselves and their children, leaving them with nowhere to go and heightening their risk of violence and exploitation.
Intersectional gender-based, or GBA+ , analysis and budgeting are international best practices. As this report states, both Canada and Ontario are moving in this direction. But so are Canadian cities, including Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa. Toronto has the opportunity to be a leader in the field of municipal intersectional gender based analysis.
To continue building on its important work to date, we recommend that the City of Toronto take the following actions:
We look forward to our continuing partnership in this work and supporting the leadership of the City.
This International Women’s Day, our Women’s Shelter Counsellor, Victoria Roth was presented with the Dedication Award at the Woman ACT Soul of a Warrior Awards Dinner.
Victoria’s journey at Women’s Habitat began in 1991 when she was hired as a relief Child and Youth Worker. Almost 30 years later, Victoria continues to be a tireless advocate for women and children and a mentor to students, volunteers and employees beginning their social work careers.
Victoria has a deep connection to South Etobicoke, having moved to the neighbourhood 11 years ago to help raise her grandchildren. “When I first moved here I quickly became aware of the great division of wealth in the community; I have seen firsthand the impact (Women’s Habitat’s) Outreach Centre has on those struggling to make ends meet.”
When Victoria started at Women’s Habitat, resources were scarce. “We head leaky pipes and broken this and that constantly, but we maintained a sense of togetherness and that continues to be one of our greatest strengths; that and our diversity.” Victoria strongly believes it is the diversity of the organization that is both its greatest challenge and its greatest asset. “It is critical that we have a staff team that reflects the diversity of the women and children we serve. As staff we don’t all think alike and we challenge each other. It’s not always comfortable, but it is so important and it makes us stronger. It ensures we are providing the quality of service women and children deserve.”
It is Victoria’s ability to challenge herself and create connections that has made her such a skilled counsellor. She shares that it was her mother who instilled in her from a young age the concepts of social justice and equity. Her mother, a hero in her own right, fled war torn Germany with her children when Victoria was a child. “She believed in giving back to the community. She would share her last potato with you. That was the kind of woman she was”.
When ask how she continues to be successful in her work Victoria says there is no formula; “if you are using a formula you are not doing the work. You need to be completely in tune with what is happening around you. You have to actively listen and be trauma informed. Every woman and every experience is unique.”
After almost three decades counselling women and children who’ve experienced trauma, Victoria continues to receive immense joy from her work “I am able to get paid for doing what I love doing. How great is that? Not many people can say that. I feel so privileged when they trust me enough to share with me. It is awesome to watch women as they talk it out and solve their own problems. All you need to do is believe them, support them and encourage them.”
Congratulations Victoria on your well-deserved recognition. Your passion and dedication is inspiring and it is our privilege to have you on the Women’s Habitat team.
Women’s Habitat is fortunate to have a staff team comprised of tireless advocates whose wealth of knowledge and experiences enrich our service delivery. One of these advocates is our Director of Finance, Sushma Subedi. On March 8th, 2010 Sushma immigrated to Canada from Nepal with her young daughter and husband. She is open about the struggles she faced as a newcomer and the adversity she overcame. Sushma commits her time and energy to uplifting women and supporting her community and this Saturday she was honoured at the Nepalese Canadian Women’s Association International Women’s Day celebration and where she shared the importance of celebrating and acknowledging women’s contributions every day:
“Good Morning Everybody, Namaskar. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate International Women’s Day. Today is a very special day for women all over the world.
I know that the women of the world are much more powerful and stronger than society thinks. There are so many things women make possible. I am proud to be a woman, because to be a woman is an honour and privilege, not the burden.
Unfortunately there are so many barriers to women’s growth. Women experience lack of access to education, careers and unequal pay because of society’s sexist beliefs and attitude towards them.
International Women’s Day holds a special significance for me. On March 8, 2010 my family and I immigrated to Canada. When I arrived I was struggling with almost everything, however I never lost my focus; I never gave up and now I have expertise managing finances for not for profits. One of my greatest rewards as a Finance Professional is being able to support both men and women start careers of their own.
For men, I would like to say: be better men everyday not only today. Acknowledge all the great work women do. If you think you are helping your partner doing household work or ‘babysitting’, then you are thinking the wrong way. Doing chores and raising children are shared responsibilities, so men and boys you must take your responsibility and do your part!
For women, I would like to say let’s live our life to the fullest! Let’s explore opportunities to grow to our full potential and empower each other. Let’s not compete, let’s collaborate! It’s very important that we know our self-value and our self-worth before society puts a tag on our abilities and dictates what we can and can’t do. We can do whatever we put our minds to!
Once again, thank you for having me here today. It is an honour and I wish you all a very Happy International Women’s Day.”