The following content was written by Aoife Cummins for the Global Health Student Blog (McMaster University).
“On October 2nd, 2022, Marcus Charles was leaving work when he experienced an epileptic seizure. Emergency services were called and shortly after, Charles was tased by Hamilton police and charged with three counts of assault. For over a year, Charles fought to have these charges dropped, while advocating for mandatory epilepsy and seizure response training for law enforcement.”
“In the most recent instalment of the Global Health Seminar Series, Gachi Issa, the Black Justice Coordinator at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, shared Marcus Charles’s story. Throughout her presentation, she illustrated the holistic and longitudinal consequences of anti-Black racism within and beyond the Hamilton context, urging students and faculty to recognize this phenomenon as a public health crisis.”
“Shortly after Issa’s presentation, Marcus Charles’ charges were officially dropped, marking a step in the right direction. However, in highlighting this victory, we must not forget the scars this event has left on our community or the unchanged systems that allowed it to happen.”
On December 14, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decided in Rainbow Alliance Dryden et al. v. Webster to allow a defamation suit by a drag performer and a 2SLGBTQI community organization against an individual who publicly called them “groomers” to continue to trial.
In doing so, the court initially ruled that there is no public interest in protecting baseless accusations of child sexual abuse against 2SLGBTQI people.
The court then relied on Egale Canada’s intervention to affirm the exact opposite: Because false accusations of pedophilia have been weaponized against 2SLGBTQI people to deny members of our communities equal rights and opportunities for decades, the law must allow people being targeted by these homophobic and transphobic myths to pursue defamation claims.
In recent years, drag performers putting on family-friendly shows have been increasingly targeted with the baseless accusation that they are grooming children for sexual abuse. The correct use of the word “grooming” refers to practices by which sexual abusers gain access to victims, usually children and youth, and coerce and manipulate them to facilitate sexual abuse.
Drag performances are a form of cultural expression and the equation of drag performances to child grooming is based on the homophobic and transphobic belief that gender diversity is inherently dangerous to children. The court accepted that the term “groomer” has come to function as a slur against drag performers and 2SLGBTQI people more broadly.
The court’s decision finds the use of the “groomer” slur against drag performers to be rhetoric based on hurtful and hateful myths and stereotypes
This is an important decision for 2SLGBTQI communities that comes at a time when we are facing unprecedented levels of hate, harassment, and violence fuelled by the spread of misinformation and disinformation. As noted in the court’s decision, the term “groomer” is a slur used against drag performers that is “rhetoric based on hurtful, and hateful myths and stereotypes…”
This decision represents the significant finding that calling drag performers “groomers” is an accusation of child sexual abuse and that people targeted by that accusation have the right to take legal action to protect their reputations.
Credits and Source: Egale Canada
Tribunal ruled that the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) has been illegally reducing compensation of racialized injured migrant workers for decades.
Last week, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal ruled that the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) has been illegally reducing compensation of racialized injured migrant workers for decades. In an extensive ruling that took official notice of the institutional racism that migrant farm workers face, the Tribunal determined that the WSIB’s practice of ending compensation to migrant farm workers was illegal, and reinstated Loss of Earnings compensation to a group of four permanently injured migrant workers from Jamaica.
The ruling stems from a WSIB practice that reduces partially injured migrant workers’ Loss of Earnings benefits after 12 weeks by pretending they can earn income from suitable work in Ontario even though such work is not available to injured migrants.
Leroy Thomas is one of the appellants. As a participant on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), Thomas left his young family in Jamaica to work the fields in Ontario for up to 8 months a year.
In 2017, he suffered a permanent back injury that ended his 16 year career in Ontario. The WSIB knew that Thomas could not come back to work in Ontario with his injury, but cut his benefits as if he could. It told Thomas that, if he could still work in Ontario, he could restore his income with his disability by getting a job as a parking lot attendant. It ended his Loss of Earnings compensation shortly after his injury as if he was working that job. The WSIB’s practice forced Thomas, and injured migrant workers like him, into poverty with no realistic way of restoring their income in Jamaica with their injuries. Thomas started to organize with Justice for Migrant Workers and Injured Workers Action for Justice to press the WSIB for changes. He also appealed his case with three other injured migrant workers. In their landmark decision, the Tribunal said that WSIB must provide meaningful retraining and/or compensation based on the individual circumstances and labour market realities that migrant workers face in their home countries. In doing so, it determined that migrant workers are entitled to the same.
Public Health is directed by the Ministry of Health to monitor food affordability. This is achieved by conducting a survey of food costs in a sample of Hamilton grocery stores using a tool called the Ontario Nutritious Food Basket (ONFB). Food costing was conducted in Hamilton in May 2023.
Results from 2023 have been posted on the City of Hamilton’s web page, Monitoring Affordability in Hamilton: https://www.hamilton.ca/people-programs/public-health/healthy-eating/monitoring-food-affordability-hamilton.
To monitor food affordability, monthly costs of food plus the average cost of market rental housing in Hamilton are compared to incomes for eight individual and family scenarios. The family/individual income scenarios can be downloaded by clicking on this document: Household scenarios comparing income to monthly expenses in Hamilton.
The methodology used for surveying food costs in Hamilton in 2022 was repeated in 2023 and therefore results are comparable. The cost of the ONFB in Hamilton for a reference family of four (2 adults and 2 school-aged children) rose from $1031/month in 2022 to $1110/month in 2023, representing an increase of approximately 8%.
With the rising costs of food and rental prices, the HCLC will continue to, and encourages other individuals, organizations and stakeholders to empower our communities; especially those whose identities intersect with racial, gendered, sexual, disabled, and many other lines.