top of page

In response to the Disability Justice Network of Ontario's invitation to participate in our series of #CripTheVote town halls, mayoral candidate Ute Schmid-Jones has sent the following statement to us:

Thank you for taking the time to invest in a very detailed and interesting telephone conversation with me on the weekend.  I hope that I was able to explain that as an individual, I can express a point of view and even share how a political policy effects me personally for example.  As an elected politician however, I have to put my personal opinions to one side and listen with an open mind to public consultation on any issue.  That doesn't mean that my personal opinion doesn't influence my political self, it means that I will, if elected, be exposed to many viewpoints and presentations of statistical data.  How I feel standing in this present moment, may evolve (hopefully will evolve) with exposure to many different professional perspectives and expressions of life experience.

I hope also that you will investigate ways that City of Hamilton can address the current "grandfathering" clause that allows some spaces in our city to delay or even in some cases avoid, achieving accessibility standards outlined by the Province of Ontario.  There is a great deal of economic currency behind initiatives, services, and products that support those with different abilities.  Those new technological developments also benefit those who are more able.  It's imperative that the City of Hamilton recognize how these business opportunities, and the economic stimulus they will generate, have the ability to advance our Community Benefits.  This means walking our talk when it comes to achieving accessible standards and making our City welcoming to people of ALL kinds of different abilities.

Here is the consistent "values" statement that I have used in the majority of my email responses to individuals and organizations during the course of this mayoral candidacy race:

I would like to acknowledge that the City of Hamilton, as a landmass, an organic living entity, currently geographically defines itself humanly, on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe and Mississauga People.  These and other Indigenous people on the North American Continent formed treaties with colonizers from Europe.  In Hamilton, we acknowledge and name one of these treaties as “The Dish with One Spoon”.  It is a treaty ( that we who wish to amplify the Truth and Reconciliation Report in a historical and repeated written and oral tradition) which recognizes an agreement by these indigenous nations to share this territory and protect the land.  I also personally acknowledge the Two Row Wampum Belt Agreement that recognizes the sovereignty of the Indigenous People of this territory by the first European Colonizers.

Defining policy of support of any kind, for any group in Hamilton, is only possible if I am a member of one of those groups.  Even then, if I wish to be an inclusive representative of the people of the City of Hamilton, my greatest contribution will be as a one who listens, rather than one who writes flowery speeches, makes uninformed promises, or likes hearing the sound of my own voice. I endeavour to listen and have an open mind to the needs and values expressed by all.

As an elected official, my first objective will always be to share and protect the territorial lands.  Hamilton is a part of those lands.  I will rise up to honour the treaties.

Here are my political and personal values:

- Ecological Wisdom - Non-Violence - Sustainability - Respect for Diversity - Social Justice - Participatory Democracy

Hamilton's mayor has one vote at the council table.  Democracy is one of my highest values.  Public consultation on municipal matters that affect the environmental and economic success of our Ambitious City, must be a valued participatory tool in developing and implementing all policies.

I hope that these expressed "values" help you understand how I would respond in a voting capacity at the  Council Table if I were elected Mayor of Hamilton.

Thank you again for reaching out with important questions and giving all of our municipal candidates the opportunity to thoughtfully respond. hope that you will find something positive and inspiring out of all written responses.

Kind Regards,

Ute Schmid-Jones Hamilton's Mayoral Choice for Environmental and Economic Climate Resilience

Image Description: Disability Justice Network of Ontario's Logo is on the bottom left. On the right there is a heading that reads "Online Town Hall". Under this there is more text that reads, "Poverty, Gentrification & Housing. Monday, October 15th @ 6:00pm EST. Follow the discussion @djnontario. Join in using the #CripTheVote and #HamOnt tags."
Image Description: Disability Justice Network of Ontario's Logo is on the bottom left. On the right there is a heading that reads "Online Town Hall". Under this there is more text that reads, "Poverty, Gentrification & Housing. Monday, October 15th @ 6:00pm EST. Follow the discussion @djnontario. Join in using the #CripTheVote and #HamOnt tags."

According to Statistics Canada, nearly a quarter of Canadians with disabilities live in poverty - more than twice the rate for non-disabled Canadians. This number increases for Canadians with multiple and 'severe' disabilities - more than 35 percent of whom live below the poverty line.

The Ontario government recently cut a planned increase to disability benefit rates, and cancelled the province's basic income pilot programme.

Meanwhile, many Canadian cities are facing dramatic inflation of rental rates. Last year, an editorial in The Toronto Star noted that the average cost of living for a single person in Ontario exceeds the maximum rate of ODSP benefits by more than 200 dollars per month. And this ignores the fact that many people receiving ODSP do not receive anywhere near that maximum rate.

Disabled people living in poverty are often forced into living situations that are unsafe or inaccessible. They experience social and geographic isolation, which can make it difficult or impossible to access needed services, medical care and employment.

Disabled Canadians also face homelessness at more than twice the rate of non-disabled Canadians. As noted recently by the disability rights advocacy group Rooted in Rights, homelessness is a disability justice issue.

During this town hall, we will be discussing the topic of poverty, gentrification & homelessness.

We have prepared one set of questions for the mayoral candidates for #HamOnt, and another set of questions that apply broadly to disabled people, regardless of where they are currently living.

To make it easier for people to follow the discussion, the @djnontario account will only be tweeting out the chat questions, and retweeting the responses from the candidates, while the town hall is taking place.

To see the full discussion, including other people's responses, you can follow the #CripTheVote and #HamOnt hashtags, and set the page to ‘Latest’.

Image Description: Twitter screenshot showing the top of the Twitter search page for #CripTheVote, with the “Latest” tab selected.
Image Description: Twitter screenshot showing the top of the Twitter search page for #CripTheVote, with the “Latest” tab selected.

Please remember to add the #CripTheVote and #HamOnt to your own tweets, so that others can see what you are saying!

If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote #HamOnt”.

We would also like to ask that you reply to the tweeted questions, rather than quote-tweeting them, as this can make the conversation easier to follow, and therefore more accessible, for some people.

We are aware that Twitter chats are not accessible for everyone. To keep the conversation as easy to follow as possible, this account will only be tweeting out the chat questions, and the responses from candidates, during the chat itself. We'll be liking tweets throughout, but will hold off on retweeting responses from the community until after the chat to keep our feed as easy to read as possible. (You can still see other people's responses in real-time by following the #CripTheVote hashtag.)

For those who cannot participate, we will also be updating the DJNO blog, at, with a summary of each discussion, the day after the event.

Some of the content of tonight's discussion may be triggering for some people. If you are discussing traumatic experiences, please try to include the appropriate content warnings.

You can do this by adding the text "CW: [topic or keyword]" to the start of your tweet.

And if you find yourself becoming distressed or overwhelmed during tonight's discussion, please feel free to take a break or mute the hashtag for your wellbeing. Above all, take care of yourself!

This town hall is scheduled to be 90 minutes long.


Questions for the community

[The time indicated in brackets after each question corresponds to the time this question will be posted on Twitter, during the town hall on Monday, October 15th]

1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us. Please introduce yourself! [6:00pm]

2. A recent article in @TheSpec notes that, “The usual concern is that [gentrification] may cause displacement and prevent lower-income households from moving into an area that might have suited them.”

It goes on to state that, “Hamilton is not in that position, yet, not even close. There are still many neighbourhoods, in the Lower City and also on the Mountain, that contain housing that is relatively affordable, relative, that is, to other areas in the city.” Disabled people frequently have specific access and accommodation needs. How might gentrification within a particular neighbourhood affect them differently than it does non-disabled people? How can we ensure that analyses of gentrification are accounting for the specific access needs and experiences of disabled residents? [6:10pm]

3. Have your particular access needs made it difficult for you to find housing? How has that affected you? [6:20pm]

4. Have you ever experienced discrimination as a disabled person, when seeking to rent from a private landlord? How did that affect you? Were you able to report that discrimination? [6:30pm]

5. Have you ever tried to access community support or crisis services in relation to your housing situation? Were you able to get the help you needed? Why or why not? [6:40pm]

6. Have you ever been homeless? What was / is that experience like? Were you, or have you been able to access emergency shelter and / or support services during that time? [6:50pm]

7. How has living in poverty affected your health and your disabilities? What kinds of services do you think could help to lessen this impact? [7:00pm]

8. Keeping in mind that some disabled people are unable to work, and that working should not be a requirement for people to enjoy a good quality of life – there are also some disabled people who actively seek employment, but are unsuccessful due to discrimination from employers.

As in the case of housing, this discrimination is often not explicit, but reveals itself in the patterns of responses disabled jobseekers receive when they are able to choose not to disclose their disabilities, versus when they do.

Moreover, the employment protections offered by the #AODA are very limited, and do not directly address issues of discrimination. Have you experienced discrimination as a disabled jobseeker? What kinds of initiatives could your city undertake to reduce this type of discrimination? [7:10pm]

9. Our next chat, taking place this Wednesday, will focus on the topic of transportation. How has access to transportation affected your ability to find appropriate housing and (if applicable) employment? [7:20pm]

With elections underway the Disability Justice Network of Ontario is hosting a #CripTheVote campaign from October 15th to October 20th for the mayoral elections in #HamOnt!!

Many people with disabilities are directly affected by local municipal politics, yet cannot physically or directly engage their candidates with important questions in traditional formats for a variety of health or access related reasons.

To fill this gap, the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO) will run an online #CripTheVote campaign from October 15th to October 20th. Taken from the #CripTheVote model in San Francisco, which engages thousands of residents with disabilities each election, people with disabilities and their allies will engage in 3 online town halls with their local mayoral candidates on issues relating to: access to housing, plans for accessibility in Hamilton, accessibility and transit, and plans to mitigate the impacts of poverty and gentrification on the disability community. Each mayoral candidate has received questions in advance, and answers will be posted on twitter, to start each town hall off.

This online campaign will be moderated by renowned disability justice advocate Alex Haagaard, an artist, designer and activist living in rural southern Ontario. They are especially interested in advocating for health justice, and their work is informed by their academic background in the medical sciences and humanities, as well as their own experiences as a chronic patient. Alex was a co-founder of the #CripTheVoteUK campaign that sought to centre disability justice issues during the 2017 UK general election, and they currently host #MedTraumaChat on Twitter, a biweekly discussion of topics related to medical trauma and violence.

The Campaign can be found using the hashtags #CripTheVote and #HamOnt, or through the social media channels of DJNO.

This campaign is being run with permission from the #CripTheVote creator and disability justice advocate from the Disability Visibility Project, Alice Wong.

Disability Justice Network of Ontario's Logo is on the left, and on the right there is text that reads "#Crip The Vote, 2018 Municipal Election, Online Town Halls. Under this heading there is a schedule of the town halls, which reads, Monday, October 15th at 6:00 pm: Poverty, Gentrification and Housing, Wednesday, October 17th, at 6:00 pm: Transportation, Friday, October 19th at 6:00 pm: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Schedule of Online Town Halls

bottom of page