Image caption: A giant boy in a red shirt and teal pants with crutches is walking in between two miniature buildings. Three miniature people, led by a black woman, are pulling two of the miniature buildings away from the boy using a yellow rope, in order to make a way for him to pass through. The boy is mid-step, an smiling.
We’re in the midst of a crisis the likes of which this city has not faced in generations: The global COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a growing economic recession, in the middle of a climate emergency.
How we respond to, recover from, and rebuild after this crisis will define the next chapter of Hamilton History. Will the challenges of these times be met with fear and austerity? Or will we work together towards a just recovery for all Hamiltonians.
Many throughout history have often noted a cities budget is a moral document. How and what a city invests in say a great deal about who and what they value. Right now, Hamilton city council is debating its spending priorities for the 2021 budget period.
The Just Recovery Hamilton Coalition made up of Environment Hamilton, the YWCA Hamilton, the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) the Hamilton Community Benefits Network (HCBN) the Sexual Assault Centre of the Greater Hamilton Area (SACHA), Social Policy and Research Council of Hamilton (SPRC) the Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction, and the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO), has laid out core values/areas of investment the city must make starting with the 2021 budget to build a stronger, more just and inclusive city. Consideration must be given to each of these core areas, and the deeper more specific policy and spending requests and the groups involved in this policy paper have made reasoned and detailed requests our leaders can do with support and encouragement from the Hamilton Community as a whole.
We cannot afford to return to the pre-COVID-19 normal, normal wasn’t working. Times of great challenge in the past have afforded opportunities for broad reaching social change. The city bounced back and thrived after faced with the mammoth challenges of the 1918/1919 Pandemic, and the Second World War. We cannot meet the deep inequality and often hidden challenges the current pandemic has exposed with fear and austerity. We can build back better!
Section on Disability Justice in Hamilton:
Hamilton has the largest density of people with disabilities in Ontario. People with disabilities in Hamilton struggle with accessing employment, either because of discrimination or because the workforce, in general, is ableist and not built for everyone. More than that, we have constructed society to be a place where one’s value comes from their ability to produce. This has doomed many disabled people, who cannot work, to lives of poverty, and isolation in long-term care homes and residential care facilities. It is no longer enough to talk about accessibility as compliance. Policy discussions need to be centered around disability justice—the ways in which all institutions leave people behind on the basis of disability; ramps alone do not equal equality.