Economic Supports Online Q&A Session

SAWRO is organizing a livestream online series regarding COVID-19 economic supports. This online session will be hosted by SAWRO staff and will be delivered in Bangla and English. The presentation will provide information about pandemic economic supports (EI, CERB, OW/ODSP, and supports for students) and how to access them. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period for community members.
To participate in the session, join us through Facebook or call us at the number below to participate in the event.

To participate through Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/2642804659374560/

To call-in during the session call:
647-558-0588, ID: 876 8180 6131

Health Information Session

SAWRO hosted an interactive health session facilitated by Dr. Nadira Begum, an internationally-trained health professional, who presented critical medical and health information related to COVID-19. View the video below to see the Facebook Live video!

Live Health Series Event

Dear Community Members,

SAWRO is organizing an online health series that will present information on the recent COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday, May 2nd, 2020 from 4pm-5pm, through a Facebook Live event. The online live-stream will host internationally-trained health professionals who will present information about the pandemic, recommended health protection Emeasures, and important physical/mental health. They will also answer to frequently asked questions about COVID-19. All of this information will be delivered in Bangla and English.

The presentation of information will be followed by a period of question and answer form the community members. Here are some ways to participate in the event:

Online – Through Facebook!
• Log into your personal Facebook Account
• Click on the link below to see the live online session. You can ask your question in the comment section while the event is streaming live
Link:
https://www.facebook.com/events/589528141660952/

Over the Phone:
• Dial the local number 647-558-0588 (this is a Zoom number)
• You will be asked for a meeting ID, enter 854 4034 4859
• You will be able to hear the presentation. You will be admitted to the meeting after the presentation for the question and answer period and will be able to ask questions directly

You can join both ways! The question and answer period will have a moderator. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

Report: Universal health and economic security measures required!

Dear Community Members,

SAWRO has been regularly consulting community women from the East-Danforth neighbourhoods, many of whom are/were precariously employed and have been impacted by the pandemic. Through regular consultations and ongoing services to support the community through the pandemic, gaps in the current measures are coming to light as they exclude many precarious workers.

In this time of crisis, we are only as protected as those who are the most vulnerable – we are calling for all levels of government to adopt universal health and economic measures that are available to everyone in society, regardless of their labour market position.

Click the link to read the full report: COVID 19: Universal Health and Economic measures Required!

COVID-19: Universal Health and Economic Security Measures Required

The experience of other countries during the covid-19 pandemic has made very clear what government response should be:  

  1. organize mandatory and comprehensive containment and isolation measures;
  2. facilitate compliance by providing universal livelihood supports to all working people.

 In Canada governments at all levels are not following this universal approach. Instead they have been rolling out a patchwork of half-measures full of gaps. When people fall through the cracks in this system, the coronavirus also falls through enabling it to spread and cause greater harm.

This analysis is based on the hundreds of phone/email contacts SAWRO workers have made with the community’s families over the past few days.  People feel their families are being left to fend for themselves in the covid-19 crisis. They are excluded by the narrowness and shallowness of both government health security measures and economic security programs.

This exclusion is a result of government failing to take into account of the situation of workers in the low-paid precarious job sectors where many community people—especially immigrant women—are working.  Government is neither recognizing nor responding to the vulnerabilities of workers employed through precarious work arrangements. People facing great health security challenges and severe threat to their livelihoods are being given very little support.

The failure of government to organize mandatory and comprehensive covid-19 containment and isolation measures has resulted in exposure of precarious workers at their workplaces and on public transit commuting to work. In Ontario the government list of “essential businesses” is far too expansive and  the regulation of workplace protections far too voluntary. They leave employers in many non-crucial enterprises to do as they please.

Numerous reports have been received about predatory employers refusing to follow social distancing and hygiene protocols in the workplace and to provide required personal protective equipment. They are also bullying and intimidating workers who request leave to self-isolate, to care for school age children or to care for seniors. Employers are threatening to manipulate worker access to EI or Canada Emergency Relief Benefit if they leave the job.

Individual workers with insecure employment relationships have difficulty taking protective action—government action is needed:

  •  the number of businesses declared “essential” should be severely restricted to enterprises with crucial pandemic response roles
  • for crucial workplaces which remain open, mandatory protective health measures should be established and robustly enforced
  • power to decide who should have leave from work to self-isolate, care for young children or other family members should be taken entirely out of the hands of employers
  • transportation to work for crucial workers—which is compliant with social distancing guidelines—must be provided

A similar, more universal approach needs to be taken in government covid-19 emergency livelihood supports.  Many community people are fully attached to the work force and are losing earned income as result of the pandemic but are excluded from both extended EI benefits and the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) program. The only employment available to them are jobs as staffing agency workers, as on call workers, as irregularly scheduled workers in retail and fast food and as misclassified “independent” contractors. Because of their insecure employment, low wages and irregular income they cannot meet the eligibility criteria of these programs—despite the devastating impact the pandemic is having on their earned incomes.

The exclusionary criteria affecting community working people, especially immigrant women include:

  • $5,000 minimum earning requirement for CERB payments
  • requirement that no income is received in qualifying periods
  • requirement that applicant was not unemployed at time of pandemic outbreak
  • exclusion for voluntarily leaving employment

There are multiple ways precariously employed workers can be entangled in these exclusions and not receive emergency benefits. They are left scrambling around looking for work and being forced to accept work in unhealthy situations—instead of focussing on complying with emergency health measures.

The only solution to this problem is government providing livelihood support payments universally available to all working people, regardless of their labour market position. This approach would recognize and respond to the vulnerabilities of precariously employed workers. It would also recognize that during the pandemic crisis ensuring the health and economic security of each individual is necessary for the health and economic security of all.

HEALTH SECURITY IS OUR COMMUNITY’S PRIORITY

Dear Community Members,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread rapidly in Canada and globally, SAWRO encourages all community people to make compliance with the protective measures called for by health authorities their highest priority. People should inform themselves about and follow the pandemic guidelines provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by Officers of Health at the national, provincial and city levels.
We encourage community people to consider any of the restrictions imposed by government in Canada as the minimum required. To ensure the health of themselves, their families, their communities and the whole society people should maximize protective measures such as social distancing, isolation of seniors and other vulnerable people and self-isolation when symptoms appear. Do more, not less!
All SAWRO workers are now focussed on making a contribution to the local, national and global effort for containment and mitigation of the pandemic. Our social service, cultural/social and advocacy program delivery capacities have been re-organized to address the pandemic crisis. Our highest priority is facilitating community people’s compliance with the necessary protective measures. See our social media or call our office to access the kind of compliance supports SAWRO can provide.
SAWRO recognizes that there is widespread anxiety among community people about the economic impact of the pandemic. Some people have already been hard hit by lost wages and most expect wages losses in the near future. Many people working for industrial temp agencies, at casual part-time jobs and in the fast-food, retail and hospitality sector have been especially hard hit and have little savings to fall back on. Families with young children have lost wages because of school and daycare closings.
But even in the face of this threat to livelihoods and increasing anxiety about economic security , we encourage community people to stay focused on the COVID-19 threat and to make health security their priority. Economic disruption is unfolding on a scale far beyond what individual workers can manage. Governments have a duty to ensure the livelihoods of workers, and in the conditions of the pandemic crisis there is no alternative to relying on government carrying out its responsibility.
A series of measures have been rolled out by the national and provincial governments which political leaders say will guarantee livelihoods of working people impacted by COVID-19. They include income supports for workers who lose wages as a result of quarantine and isolation, including school closures and an expansion of Employment Insurance sick benefits and eligibility.
Most importantly for community people, an emergency income support program for workers in precarious employment who cannot qualify for EI benefits has been announced. Low-income families will receive increased payments through the HST rebate and Child Benefit programs. Regulations have also been changed which political leaders say will increase housing security by suspending evictions of rental tenants and allowing postponement of mortgage payments by home-owners.
SAWRO staff is hard at work gathering information about the livelihood support programs being rolled out. This work has service and advocacy goals:
1) Creating services for informing community people about the benefits they can qualify for; assisting people navigate the application and expediting receipt of benefits
2) Analysing the programs to determine if they provide adequate supports and are accessible to community working people whose livelihoods are disrupted by the pandemic; developing advocacy campaigns to address any shortcomings in benefits, lack of accessibility or obstacles to rapid delivery.
Check SAWRO’s websites and social media as government livelihood support programs and regulations are rolled out. Information about the programs in accessible formats and in mother-languages of community people will be posted. Information will also be posted about services staff workers are developing to assist people apply for the programs.

Best Regards,

Sultana Jahangir
Executive Director
SAWRO
Phone: 647-857-9153

POSTPONED- Marginalization of Immigrant Women is not okay!

Dear Community Members,

As per the advice of Health Canada and other community groups and institutions, SAWRO will be postponing the “Marginalization of Immigrant Women is not okay!” event that was to be held on Saturday, March 14, 2020.
We are still working towards bringing the community members, activists, researchers, political representatives, and other community and policy stakeholders together to report on the community’s action and mobilization experience, as well as discuss ways to continue advocating for marginalized groups. As of now, we have a tentative date of Saturday, May 23, 2020. More information will be available in the coming weeks about the event.

Please see the attached messages for more information regarding regular service changes.

IWD 2020: Community Report Back Event!

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, South Asian Women’s Rights Organization will be hosting a community report-back event for the civic mobilization project to improve the economic security of immigrant women*. Women leaders and young women activist from the Oakridge-Taylor Massey communities continue to mobilize in on the issue of underemployment of immigrant women by advocating for labour laws and policies reforms at the national, provincial, and city political platforms. SAWRO is inviting community members, activists, academics, political representatives, and other stakeholders hear the lived experiences and recommendations of community women on:
1.Underemployment as the root cause of marginalization
Impacts of precarious work arrangements in fostering inequitable labour market conditions
2.Limited access to work-related social benefits
3.Address the different aspects of underemployment and precarious work going forward
Event will feature skits and performances by community women to demonstrate our findings. Light snacks will also be provided.
**Enhancing Democratic Participation among Immigrant Women is a SAWRO and COSTI Immigrant Services collaborative project funded by the Status of Women Canada.

ATTENTION: As we are preparing for our upcoming International Women’s Day event, we want to remain cautious of recent events related to the COVID-19/corona virus. SAWRO will be taking precautions at our upcoming event in order to protect the health and well-being of vulnerable members of our community.
As a grass-roots community-based organization, we have obligations to ensuring the health and well-being of the community. We ask that individuals who have recently travelled abroad or feel sick/have flu-like symptoms (coughing, fever, etc.) to stay home. We also ask that the elderly, immunocompromised persons, and this with underlying conditions (asthma, diabetes, etc.) to also stay home as they are at greater risk for the disease. Please exercise caution if you are parents and caregivers.
We will have a limit of 50 community members attending the event. To make the event accessible to everyone, we will be broadcasting the speeches, presentations, and panel discussions on Facebook. More information about the broadcasting will be made available on the day of the event (Saturday, March 14).
Looking forward to and wishing everyone’s good health!

Ekushey February- International Mother Language Day Celebration 2020!

Attn All Community Members:

SAWRO is organizing an Ekushey February/International Mother Language Day Celebration on Saturday February 22nd, 2020 (4:00 PM to 6:00 PM) at the Oakridge Community Center- 63 Pharmacy Avenue. The event will commemorate the history of Bangladesh and honor the sacrifices of martyrs. All community members are encouraged to attend with their friends and family and pay their respect.

SAWRO Holiday Calendar!

Dear community members,

We are sending warm wishes to everyone this holiday, and we hope you have a wonderful and restful time with your family and friends. We are very thankful for the community’s support this year and will continue doing our best to continue assisting the community in the next year! Merry Christmas and happy new year!

With the holidays approaching, our office schedule has changed for the next two weeks, please see the attached calendar for further information.

Warm wishes,

SAWRO
416-686-0701
sawro.office@gmail.com