Education | Action | Advocacy

Women Helping Women
For A Better Future

For more information, contact:
Sandra Shaw
Ontario Council Chair, Standing Committee on Advocacy

Welcome to the January 2023 edition of the Ontario Council Advocacy Newsletter! As we move away from the restrictions of COVID and the impact it has had on all our lives, we turn to a modified ‘business as usual’ regarding advocacy in the Ontario Council Clubs. Lots is going on in our world of Women Helping Women and advocating on behalf of our diverse interests and concerns, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, is once more gaining traction. Clubs are busy with advocacy projects (see information on the new Advocacy Corner) and we would be remiss if we did not offer kudos to the dedication, innovation and success of the myriad Clubs active in advocacy.

This newsletter is filled with information regarding issues that are on our radar. I would like to thank the Chairs of our Standing Committees Helen Robb (Status of Women and Human Rights), Niki Carlan (Legislation) and Judith Pownall (Education)) for their involvement in the Speakers Series and in the preparation of this newsletter. Thanks, too, to Ingrid Sproxton, Communications Chair, for her tireless work in compiling the contents of the newsletter and her patience as we struggle with deadlines.

We constantly search for members to support our committees. If you have interest in participating in any one of the committees, please contact one of us. If you are interested in starting a province wide interest group, please let us know and we will help you set it up.

Ontario Council is here to support your Clubs and activities.  We would love to hear from you.

Sandra Shaw, Chair Advocacy
In this newsletter:
  • UNCSW 67
  • Advocating with a Majority Government
  • Summaries of October/November Speakers Series
  • Medical Appliances
  • Did you know ...
  • Climate Action Corner
  • Club Advocacy Corner
  • COVID Update
  • Club Advocacy Action
  • Upcoming Club Advocacy Events
Registration is now open for OC's third Speakers Series of the 2022-23 year. This session’s topic is THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS: TWO WORKING SOLUTIONS, and the event will take place on Saturday February 25 from 10 a.m. to 12:30p.m. The speakers are Robert Cikoja, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Huronia, and Melissa Scott, Operations and Development Manager for Barrie Housing.
Please click here to register
Affordable housing affects not only the lower middle class, but also the homeless whose lives focus on warmth, hydration, and sustenance before finding safe places to sleep once the municipal-approved beds are taken. Such safe places also impact the safety of citizens in downtown areas.

All three levels of government in Ontario have touted solutions to this problem, but have, for the most part, offered few if any workable solutions. Relying on developers to provide a percentage of their developments for affordable housing has not worked well. Even redefining the green belt is likely not to work.

Cooperative housing used to be a solution, but has fallen out of favour. No such units have been approved in years. Life leases may be a solution for a few. Tiny houses defined as houses ranging from 96 to 260 square feet are not approved in all municipalities.

Using Barrie as an example, there are two working solutions to the provision of affordable housing: Habitat for Humanity Huronia and Barrie Housing. Robert and Melissa will outline the growing success of Huronia's provision of safe, decent, affordable housing for home ownership.

The presentations will be followed by a Q&A session when the speakers will address questions from the audience. We encourage you to submit your questions in advance to Helen Robb, Chair of the Status of Women & Human Rights Standing Committee.
The Speakers Series is free but advance registration is required. Please note that the start time indicated on your registration confirmation will be 10 a.m. which is when the plenary will begin. Please plan to connect to the meeting a few minutes before 10. All attendees will be admitted to the meeting at about 9:55 a.m.
Take in the excitement of world issues and global policy development related to women and girls!

UNCSW 67 March 6th – 17th, 2023

The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) will take place from March 6 to March 17, 2023. Representatives of Member States, UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world will attend and contribute to the session. The priority theme for CSW67 is: Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

CFUW has been accredited through the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) since 1998, retains special consultative status with ECOSOC, and participates in the UNCSW every year by sending a delegation of CFUW members. Registration to be a CFUW delegate for CSW67 is closed but we are hoping that the Parallel Sessions will be broadcast so we may attend virtually, and are awaiting clarification. Stay tuned!

The formal mechanisms granted to an NGO with consultative status are as follows: 

  1. We have access to the UN;
  2. We contribute to the processes and discussions (written statements/oral statements);
  3. We are allowed to attend meetings, commissions, and the High-Level Platform (HLP) Forum on Sustainable Development.
Informally, we are able to organize events to showcase our work; network with other NGOs, with UN officials and other member state representatives. We work in and with the international community and interact with other actors and processes.

As such, CFUW contributes written and ‘oral statements’ every year which are circulated. The oral statement reflects the themes of the CSW session. We suggest language into the draft document to prepare for the Agreed Conclusions – the outcome document of the discussions and policies set for the member states to implement. Please read our written statement for 2023: CFUW's UNCSW67 written statement.

Grace Hollett, CFUW International Relations Committee, and Sandy Thomson, Ontario Council Immediate past-President and UN Agency Observer for CFUW, have written an article about CFUW and the role it plays in global affairs, including the history of CSW and UN Women. Click here to read the full article.
The challenge with a majority government is that it doesn't need to listen to you, but regardless, there are effective advocacy options available. The skills of CFUW and CFUW Ontario Council and its clubs are numerous and well entrenched. If you can’t change the minds of the politicians, change public opinion. To further your advocacy efforts, hold meetings, organize panel discussions and forums, have film nights, even have tea parties to celebrate political action, like our Famous Five involved with the Persons Case. Read more ...

And please consult the Ontario Council Advocacy Tools and CFUW National Advocacy Toolbox for more resources.
Every year, Ontario Council provides three speakers events covering topics of concern to our Clubs and directed by our three standing committee chairs of Legislation, Education and the Status of Women and Human Rights. Due to Covid, all our events since 2020 have been held virtually. Although many of us miss the camaraderie of Ontario Council’s live events, the virtual arena of Zoom has its benefits: we are able to reach more members geographically, the speakers series are offered at no charge to our Club members, our speaker pool has widened considerably thus we are able to attract speakers from across Canada (so far), Club members who are out of the country for winter vacations can still participate, and each event is recorded for the use of Clubs at a later date. To view summaries of the first two events from the 2022-2023 series, go to To request the recording link from either or both of the first two Speakers Series events, please send an e-mail to

Follow up to the November Speakers Series Is the Administrative Justice System Working for the People of Ontario? 

Click here to read the latest article THE HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL OF ONTARIO: WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. Click here to see a 6-minute clip (YouTube) from TVO on the topic.
Medical Devices – Reasonably Priced or Price Gouging?
The good news is that if you make it to 65 years old, you will probably make it to 80! According to Statistics Canada, men at 65 years old will live an additional 19.4 years and women at 65, an additional 22 years. However, during those advancing years the chances are you will need medical appliances to improve the quality of your life. For example, 50% of people at age 65 have a cataract and by 75 everyone will have at least one cataract, requiring replacement with new lenses [1].

There is no government regulation for the costs of many of these appliances. For example, in Ontario if you decide to choose the standard lens replacement the cost will be covered by the OHIP. If you choose a more specialized lens the cost may be an additional $2,000 with the government covering only the cost of the basic lens [2] [3]. The same cost variance can be seen with respect to hearing aids. According to an online website, hearing aids can range in price from $1,200 to $4,000 [4]. Importantly, there is no apparent supporting evidence for the additional costs due to manufacturing.

CFUW Ontario is considering raising the need for government regulation of these medical appliance costs. As the population ages the need and use of medical appliances will continue to increase. It may be time to include the regulation of the costs under the Canada Health Act.

If you have story to tell, or a point of view, please send us your thoughts at

[2] Government of Ontario Ministry of Health website
[3] Personal Communications
… About the Greenbelt (Bill 23) Investigations?
The Ontario government’s plan to open the Greenbelt to development will be investigated by both the Integrity Commissioner and the Auditor General.

Integrity Commissioner David Wake will investigate whether Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark breached rules that bar MPPs from making decisions or using insider information to improperly further their interests, or those of other people. Wake’s initial report published Jan. 18, was prompted by a complaint from incoming Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles, which Wake said included “direct evidence.” And in a press conference about the investigation, Stiles said Ontario’s auditor general had also told the NDP it would launch an audit of Greenbelt land sales, the result of a joint complaint filed by all three opposition parties.

The Chiefs of Ontario are calling for the repeal of the omnibus housing act, Bill 23, citing the Progressive Conservative’s lack of consultation with Indigenous communities, which Indigenous leaders have called “unlawful” and an “abuse of power.”

Ontario Council has sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford requesting that Bill 23 be rescinded. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing was cc'd. You can read the letter here. (Thank you CFUW Ottawa for the original letter.)

Want to know more about Ontario’s Greenbelt and why it is (was) under protection?
Click here.
… About the Role of Immigrant Women in Shaping the Economy of Canada?
This hot topic will be the focus of a Speakers Series in 2023/2024. ‘Women in a new environment have roles to play in job creation, networking, cultural input, and resistance to discrimination in the workplace. The strength of diasporic communities lies in their abilities to organize to find work or create it for themselves. Women have shown their ability to organize and bring to the public some of the discriminatory practices that have forced policy change by the government. The concept of the “enclave economy” cannot be ignored.”
For additional information on this topic see:

… About Healthcare Privatization in Ontario?

Ontario has released a new three-step plan that will see some for-profit community surgical and diagnostic centres take on more responsibilities, including additional surgeries and other medical procedures. Several Ontario health care unions and others are critical of the plan, saying it will diminish access to publicly-delivered healthcare and will increase wait times. Speaking to reporters on January 16, Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the plan will help reduce wait times and eliminate surgical backlogs. “We need to be bold, innovative and creative,” she said, adding that all of these procedures will be covered for patients under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Read more ...

...Youth Takes on the Ontario Government

Seven young people, backed by Ecojustice, are suing the Government of Ontario for weakening its climate targets because it will lead to widespread illness and death, violating Ontarians’ Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. As young people, the applicants say they and people like them will bear the costs of climate inaction more than previous generations.

The Ontario government passed the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act in 2018. The Act repealed what were considered to be relatively strong greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020, 2030, and 2050. The government then replaced these targets with a single, significantly weaker 2030 target. By weakening the province’s targets, the Government of Ontario will allow significantly more greenhouse gas emissions to be emitted, further fueling the climate emergency and contributing to dangerous climate change-related impacts such as heatwaves, floods, fires, and poor air quality that will harm the health of people throughout Ontario. Ontario’s backsliding comes at a time when there is a clear scientific consensus and moral imperative for governments to limit warming to 1.5°C. Meeting this temperature goal, set out in the Paris Agreement, will require global greenhouse gas emissions to halve by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

… About Intimate Partner Violence being Declared An Epidemic

Lanark County declares intimate partner violence an epidemic
'52 women in 52 weeks were taken by femicide in Ontario. This is, frankly, overdue'
Lanark County Council has declared intimate partner violence an epidemic, one of the recommendations of the jury at the inquest into the murders of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam.

On Sept. 22, 2015, the three women were murdered by Basil Borutski in neighbouring Renfrew County. The inquest was completed this past summer, with 86 recommendations.
The resolution was passed by the county council Dec. 14 2022.

"We have to see it, name it, change it. This is the naming part, that's the easy part. The hard part is changing it," Warden Peter McLaren said at that meeting, according to a news release. Read more at:

As reported in the December issue of OC News, CFUW Orillia initiated an online petition, urging the Federal Government to strengthen bail laws to protect victims of intimate partner violence. See more under Club Advocacy Action.
… About The Canadian Student Debt Crisis?

This is a Canada-wide crisis but its effects in Ontario are significant. Student debt in Canada is in a crisis. We (Hoyes Michalos Annual Bankruptcy Study 2021) say this because we see the negative consequences of more and more young people taking on student loans, in higher amounts. In 2018, student debt contributed to more than 1 in 6 (17.6%) insolvencies in Ontario, a record rate since we began our study nine years ago. Extrapolate this Canada-wide, and that means that roughly 22,000 ex-students filed insolvency in 2018 to deal with their student debt.

… and it has a greater effect on women!

Overwhelming student debt is primarily a problem for women. In 2018, 61% of student debtors were women. This ratio is consistent with Canada Student Loan (CSL) figures. In 2016-2017, 61% of grants & loans were distributed to women. CSL also reported that 65% of RAP (Repayment Assistance Program) recipients are female.

The female student debtor (Jane Student) is struggling with more student debt than her male cohort. Jane Student owes an average of $15,171 in student debt, 8.2% more than the average male debtor with student loans, a trend that has occurred consistently since we began our study.

What has the Federal Government done about forgiving Student Loans?
Ummm… not much.
Who is eligible for student loan forgiveness in Canada and what are the conditions for eligibility? In order to be eligible for student loan forgiveness you must meet the following parameters: You must have been out of school for at least 7 years and you must be eligible to file a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.

What has Ontario done about forgiving Student Loans (OSAP)?
Also not much.
Borrowers who’ve defaulted on their Ontario student loans can bring them back into good standing through the Ontario Student Loan Rehabilitation Program. To be considered, the borrower must meet the following criteria:
  • The borrower has defaulted on their Ontario Student Loan and/or the Ontario portion of your Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loans
  • Have at least $600 of Ontario student loan principal outstanding, and
  • Have less than 2 prior attempts to rehabilitate their Ontario student loan
Climate Crisis
The following is excerpted from:
We are in the throes of a climate crisis due to high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – mainly from human activities. The science behind climate change is clear and the trend is alarming. Changing course is a matter of generating the political will. Rising temperatures are forging radically different landscapes across the province. Climate change is imperiling water, food, biodiversity and the natural systems that we rely on. Ontarians are experiencing the impacts daily.

Every corner of the province is being profoundly altered by climate change – from increased frequency and intensity of forest fires in the northern boreal to erosion along the Great Lakes’ shorelines to flooding around the Thousand Islands. The pervasive impacts include extreme weather, disease outbreaks, loss of biodiversity, diminished natural systems, health concerns and food insecurity.

What You Can Do
Addressing the climate crisis will require individual and collective action.
  • Advocate for bold climate action in your community and beyond – including with your elected officials.
  • Decrease your carbon footprint by using active transportation, eating more local food and less beef, turning down your thermostat, and more.
  • Volunteer for organizations working on the climate crisis like Ontario Nature.
  • Vote for political parties that make climate action commitments and have a good track record.

Ontario’s peatlands store the most carbon in the country – more than all the other natural ecosystems in Ontario combined – making these terrestrial wetland ecosystems an essential nature-based climate solution. Yet, only 10% of peatlands are protected in Canada.

Want to find out what other OC Clubs are doing in terms of Advocacy? Want to share experiences, resources and information regarding an issue? Need the voice of experience about advocating for a certain policy resolution? Want to join forces with another Club to augment your voice?

Ontario Council is preparing a webpage under the CFUW Ontario Council Advocacy tab which will list all OC Clubs active in Advocacy and the issue(s) they are working on, along with Club advocacy contacts. Using the format shown below, please send your information to
To download the Excel form to enter your Club's advocacy issue(s), please click here.
We are hoping to have the Club Advocacy Corner page available by April 2023.
It was 3 years ago that Ontario had its first identified Covid case. While we have adapted to a new way of living in society, we still hear of cases and deaths even though restrictions have been dropped.
According to Health Canada, the count of cases of COVID-19 for the week of January 08 to January 14, 2023 in Ontario was 6,233. Given that reporting Covid cases from home tests is difficult to quantify, the actual number of cases may be much higher.
The number of deaths attributed to Covid, reported by Public Health Ontario for the same period was 62 (almost 1%).
What steps can we take to protect ourselves? The answer is still the same as earlier in the Pandemic.
●   Get all your vaccinations for Covid
●   Stay at home when you're sick
●   Wear a well-fitting respirator or mask (KN95 or N95 are best)
●   Improve indoor ventilation
●   Practise respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene
●   Wash your hands OFTEN and avoid touching your face
Remember, you can transmit COVID-19 before you start showing symptoms or without ever developing symptoms. 
Respect the decisions of others but don’t put yourself at risk.
CFUW ORILLIA - Petition in support of the CFUW National Resolution – Strengthening Bail Laws to Protect Victims of Intimate Partner Violence
The online petition to Strengthen Bail Laws initiated by CFUW Orillia, with support from Adam Chambers, MP for Simcoe North, has been certified and MP Chambers will present the Petition to the House in February, when the House returns from the Christmas break. A record of the presentation will appear in the Journals for that day and the petitioner, supporters and signatories of the petition will be advised by email. As well, MP Chambers’ office will send the video clip of the presentation to CFUW Orillia, who will then publish the link. The Government must respond to the petition within 45 days of its presentation to the House. The petitioner, supporters, signatories and MP Chambers will be notified by email when the response is tabled in the House.

Ontario's Guide to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 and Regulation 79/10 establishes a number of rights for long-term care (LTC) residents. In their primer, CFUW Windsor have selected a few rights to highlight but the entire Guide is available online at ltc-mohltc-ltcha-guide-phase-1-1206-en.pdf ( Click here to view CFUW Windsor's LTC Primer.
The CFUW Ontario Council Advocacy Handbook involves a number of ‘chapters’ which include topics like partnerships, advocacy campaigns, writing letters and CFUW policy. 

And check out the advocacy pages on the OC website:
Save the Date! February 25th
The February Speakers Series' topic is THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS: TWO WORKING SOLUTIONS. For all the details, and to register, go to Speakers Series & Standing Committees’ Workshops | CFUW Ontario Council (
Club Advocacy Events for February & March

February 14 @ 9 am - CFUW Etobicoke
Anatomy of a Femicide Inquest: From Recommendations to Results, with feminist lawyer and advocate Pamela Cross. Tickets are $35. Register at 2023 CFUW Etobicoke Stop the Violence Breakfast.

February 14 @ 7:15 pm - CFUW North Toronto
Speaker presentation on ZOOM, Dr. Kaitlin Schwan, Executive Director, Women’s National Housing & Homelessness Network (WNHNN), and Marie McGregor Pitawanakwat, co-Chair, National Indigenous Feminist Housing Working Group and WNHHN. Guests are welcome! Please e-mail to register.

March 10 to 12 - CFUW Aurora/Newmarket
CFUW Aurora/Newmarket and the Soroptimists of York Region present LUNAFEST--films by women about women. Tickets are $20 plus a service charge of $2.05 per ticket. Click here for a list of films and a short synopsis of each. Click here to purchase tickets.

For all the details go to Club Events on the OC website.
About CFUW Ontario Council
CFUW Ontario Council is committed to:
  • The pursuit of knowledge
  • The promotion of education
  • The improvement of the status of women and girls
  • An active participation in public affairs in a spirit of cooperation and friendship.