o A person earning the current minimum wage would have to work full-time for a year and a half to earn as much as the McGuinty Liberals paid Morley Gunderson to write a report. A person earning the current minimum wage would have to work full-time for two and a half years to earn as much as Dalton McGuinty increased his pay just before Christmas.
Oct 17 drew Councilors and candidates for municipal elections including Ward 5's Joe Sponga and Dorian " Elvis Priestly" Baxter who ran for Newmarket Mayor.
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It should really come as no surprise that the NDP, and to a lesser extent the Green Party, are making a dent in the pre-election strategists theories…As some of you who have followed my blogs may know I have mentioned months and months back that Ignatief had better get out there and start branding himself because people just don’t know him enough or feel familiar enough with him (to prove a point I’m not even sure I’ve spelt his name correctly)…sure he started hitting the trail during the election but way, way too late…people already know and like Jack Layton, he’s a familiar and thus increasingly trusted face and as my astrology acquainted says, “He’s and cancer and actually does care”. Not that I take stock in astrological advice however I don’t discount the idea that he may actually care whereas Stephen Harper smiles sardonically and says little, using short answers like, “That’s just not true”.
That seems to be the element people are most disillusioned with, you can talk to your politician and it may seem as if their mind is elsewhere or they’re throwing back a rehearsed party line, but Layton seems to be able to convey a message that he’s listening and that he has some intelligent alternatives that resonate with all Canadians…and he has a platform that cares about and is inclusive of every day people and with more and more in dire straits financially or on the brink or knowing someone affected by a job loss, along with an aging population as well as a surging popularity in blue collar Quebec and Atlantic Canada suddenly they’ve thrust themselves into the mix like never before. The knock always is that the party is too left leaning…but in this day and age of “coalition” possibilities which would force parties in a sense to ‘collaborate’ in order to function, who knows? It’s actually possible Layton could be placed in as Prime Minister by the Governor General should the right conditions come to be. Yup then our 1st lady would be foreign born too. Wouldn’t that be egg on the faces of Bloc’s Gilles and Iggy who seem to like to toss at him that he’d never have a chance to be Prime Minister. In hindsight these comments from the two at their televised debate showed they were both scared of the NDP. As for Harper it might teach him not too be too smug and arrogant next time.
Locally I got a chance to hear the candidates debate – unfortunately no NDP rep could make it for me to critique – however I did get the sense people were looking for an alternative that night despite the heckling I received when asking incumbent Conservative MP Lois Brown (from obvious supporters section) why her office hadn’t replied to our request for a debate focusing on social issues…It actually took the Green party to bring some of the debate’s focus onto issues that more and more are affecting Canadians - in fact local candidate Vanessa Long stole the final show for the final statement if you ask me…Canadians are concerned about issues like poverty reduction, employment insurance benefits increases, skilled(green) jobs, national daycare, old age pensions, etc as these are issues that more and more Canadians are affected by and why I believe there is a surge in support for parties that include all Canadians – truly include them - and not with shell games and fancy talk that fools the general public but affects the most vulnerable most often and only speaks of inclusivity.
The Liberal candidate Kyle Petersen in fairness at the debate I attended did very well as he was knowledgeable and actually garnered the most applause from the packed hall during debate points, but to read the polls you have to wonder why the lag and again I come back to the fact that people just are not comfortable enough yet with the liberal leader.. He may indeed be the right guy but he needed to get out and brand himself so people could get comfortable with the idea and he has failed to do that.. and frankly he sounds like a politician…The Liberals should also have been using Justin Trudeau to brand themselves way, way more and remind people of the “tradition” of the party..
So alas I think what the polls may be reflecting is that Canadians are looking for a safe, secure, comfortable, and caring place…the question is do you think any of the parties can really deliver this? Me Neither..alas what to do?...Oh..I know….I just remembered I started an alternative mock Party!!!!
I urge you all to join the Tea Brewhaha Party of Canada today on facebook at
Act now and you can become absolutely anything in any position within the Party..Hey?!! Whattaya Gonna do! Ha!
Join us May 5 to kick off a new movement called ‘Poverty Free Ontario”
I got heckled (obviously by Conservative supporters sitting in a bunch) because I dared ask during question period (after first informing everyone that the Conservatives were the only ones who didn't agree or even respond to a debate focusing on social issues) who it was that didn't care about these people,was it her personally or was she just following the party line from Harper?..For this I was heckled to "sit down" that it was rude etc.
Personally I think it's rude when someone doesn't respond to your inquiry, especially someone elected to hear your concerns and those we represent. Every other party did. It felt like they were a hired goon squad at the ready for anyone dissing them and if I didn't have a thicker skin I might have felt intimidated. No one seems to like/want the truth in politics except the people..well..too bad. Next time we go in numbers together and heckle back need be. I encourage everyone to attend all debates locally in YR and ask questions about housing, national daycare, poverty reduction efforts, unemployment ins, healthcare, seniors pensions and other issues that Lois brown and the her response was that these are all a provincial and municipal responsibility - wherein every other part sees it differently. They want to build jails but don't realize by helping these areas they'll reduce prisoner and health needs and costs.
This is Canada, not Conservativille or Harper Town. They( governing parties) have to listen to us even if they don't agree because they are supposed to be representing the people's wants in the house not the parties first, and this is the fundamental change needed. If they don't think that a national poverty line or strategy or housing strategy is their responsibility then lets talk about it and see what WE the people want...and we can start with the truth...Lois brown claimed that 100% of the jobs lost during the recession have been returned. Really? Then why an increase of 28% in food bank users in York Region if we have all these jobs back and funny I don't see all the local manufacturers up and running again. More crock talk.
I believe PACC's next focus should include Senate reform - meaning we want to change parliament so that the peoples voices are better represented as opposed to having to accept the various oddball policies and directions government takes without our will behind it - usually something THEY want but not necessarily WE or the majority of people want and this needs to change. It can be done through what is called senate reform and we should ask MP's who supports it as an election issue.
Jan 2011 - Region receives YR Social Audit - "Behind the Masks"
Nov 1 2010 PACC Chair Tom Pearson attended the Minister of Children and Youth service's Breaking The Cycle - second year progress report(on the poverty reduction strategy).
Daily Bread's Gail Nyberg towed the friendly line to show "grass-roots" support to set the stage before a fill-in(in for absent Honourable Minister Broten)walked attendees through the progress contained in 27 page report. The highlight(not actually in the report)was the announcing of two very key people to head up the final 3 years towards fulfilling the goal of reducing child poverty bu 25%. To view video highlites of the announcement click here
Nov 1-2 ISARC - Interfaith Social Audit Reform Coalition- also released their much anticipated book Persistent Poverty Voices from the Margins - a social audit taken from 26 municipalities across Ontario in which York Region(hosted by PACC) was a participant for the 1st time in it's 20 year history.The powerful audit represents all main faiths and uses true life case scenarios as their basis for suggested courses of action.ISARC plans to engage governing representatives with this comprehensive social audit. The social audit entailed having hundreds of people, desperate for help, suspending their pride to share powerful, personal information.Important data only a social audit can provide www.isarc.ca
York Region which is widely referred to in the provincial audit sent a strong representative team to the release events including " Behind The Masks" Rapporteur and former Georgina Mayor /United Way volunteers chair John Rogers and The York Region Food Network's board Chair(pic) as well as Fred Joly provided live entertainment featuring original songs from street experience.
ISARC highlights link here - (coming soon)
PACC has engaged our Federal representatives over the past months in several ways including through Campaign 2000 and have met several times with MP Lois Brown in regards to other issues. Unfortunately the MP's office did not reply in time to add their support..or not...to the national campaign to address poverty in Canada.
Recently PACC Chair Tom Pearson met with Richmond Hill MP Bryon Wilfert in an effort to get him to go on record as supporting the Campaign 2000 goals; although not successful Pearson came away hopeful that the MP was on the same page on several issues and at least in the same book on others. He was also impressed by the MP's local knowledge through past experience in municipal politics.
Pearson also met with new provincial NDP leader Andrea Howath at the Richmondhill / Thornhill fundraiser held in November 2010 in Richmond Hill where he heard the NDP's call that it was now their turn, that people will never vote the liberals back in and the Conservatives are not the ones to lead the way..
Later the same evening the PACC chair also attended
the Green party's Aurora / Newmarket kick-off and met new green party candidate Vanessa Long.
In local byelections Vaughan is being hotly contested with conservative candidate Julian Fantino being propped up by of all people Don Cherry. With Federal Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatief having reportedly visited Vaughan several times in the past weeks this is shaping up to be a real battle..Political ring rookie Cherry could do more damage to fellow rookie Fantino than good, a gamble the conservatives have obviously embraced.
Do you or your party have a clip you'd like to share? please do! send me the link and I'll Post it..
Meantime here's the clip of the week
Excerpt sent by NDP representative as raised in parliament:
ONTARIO HANSARD MARCH 9, 2009 POVERTY
Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services.
A key component of the McGuinty government 2007 platform was poverty reduction. Specific action to reduce poverty was part of the 2007 throne speech but to date almost nothing has happened except consultations. Moreover, yesterday’s throne speech did not outline a focused strategy or set commitments to reduce poverty; not a single word. The Toronto Star called this virtual silence “disappointing.”
My question: Has the government abandoned its election promise and its throne speech of 2007 to implement a poverty reduction strategy?
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: It’s a great question because poverty reduction—of course this government has been very engaged since day one in poverty reduction. I think that I heard it mentioned also in the throne speech yesterday, so perhaps we were not at the time the same event, but I heard it.
So this government has been very active. We have increased social assistance by 11% since we came to power. We are going to raise minimum wage to $10.25 on March 1. We have created a poverty committee, so we have fully implemented the OCD; it’s up to $1,100 annually. We have introduced the—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. Michael Prue: This is the same minister who informed the House last week that they are looking at cutting off the special diet allowances.
The economic growth alone does not reduce poverty and that’s all you talked about yesterday. Yesterday’s throne speech said nothing about affordable housing, improving income security, job security or access to child care; not a single word. Instead, it passed the buck, as this government is very good at doing, to the federal government and the poor community volunteers.
Will this government make the necessary investments in the upcoming budget to achieve its poverty reduction targets? Yes or no?
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Again, I don’t think that this government has to take any lessons from that party. We have done a lot to reduce poverty and we will continue to do so. Every ministry has done something to help poverty in Ontario, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. Now ...
[Hon. Madeleine Meilleur]
... and we will continue to do so. Every ministry has done something to help poverty in Ontario, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. Now the kids at age four and five will go to school, so it will help to identify those who need more help.
Again, we have increased social assistance. We have created this poverty cabinet committee and in my ministry, I have appointed Gail Nyberg who will help us to review the social system in Ontario. I’m very pleased to know that these people that have been appointed—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.
Following excerpt from the House asked in reference to getting the Minister of Social Services if she could survive on welfare's rate of $572.
Ontario Instant Hansard October 8, 2009
Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Can the minister live on $572 a month?
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I think that’s a very important question. That’s why this government, since we have been in power, has increased social assistance. This November and December, it will be 11% in total. We have done a lot to improve the quality of life of people.
Moreover, we have the Ontario child benefit that we’re supposed to get up to $1,100 by 2013. We have ...
... we have the Ontario child benefit that we’re supposed to get to $1,100 by 2013, and we have advanced this investment this year so they are receiving $1,100.
Is there more to do? Yes, there is, and this government, as long as there are people in poverty, we will continue to invest to make sure that we improve their quality of life.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary.
Mr. Michael Prue: The minister, of course, didn’t answer the question because of course she knows she can’t live on $572 a month. She’s never even in her life had to try to do it. The fact is, she can’t live on $572 a month, but she expects 137,000 Ontarians to do exactly that. The $572 a month is 40% less than a single person received in 1994 and half of what the new stop food centre survey says a single person needs to survive. Toronto’s medical officer of health says inadequate social assistance rates are making people sick.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, will this minister stop punishing social assistance recipients with poverty and sickness, and increase Ontario and ODSP rates by $100 a month so that they can eat properly?
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I appreciate the comments presented by my friend on the other side, but this government is very proud of what we have done, not only on the poverty side, which has a great impact on those in poverty. For instance, the Minister of Housing has increased support for housing; we’re creating more, because we know that the number one problem that people in poverty have is to find affordable housing. So my colleague has invested $1.2 billion to help build affordable housing.
My colleague in the education sector has improved the school breakfast program and all types of supports within the school system which will help those in need.
As I said, we need to do more for those in need and that is what this government—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.
June 2008- PACC was the only York Region group invited to poverty reduction round-table discussion allowed more than one member to attend.PACC members were out in force with 8 members attending the June 2 2008 provincial consultations on reducing poverty despite relatively short notice. Group members made their voices heard in the narrowly focused discussions. Great job everyone!
Deb Matthews, lead minister on the province's poverty strategy, and George Smitherman presented their report called "Breaking the Cycle" at a press conference in Toronto Dec. 4, 2008.
Focus on kids a good start, but breaking down stats by race called key to knowing who needs help
Dec 07, 2008
Queen's Park Bureau
Ontario's $1.4 billion anti-poverty strategy must take a hard look at the "colour of poverty" and include indicators used to measure who is poor that are broken down by race, gender and disability, some advocates say.
Ontario's ambitious poverty reduction strategy, released Thursday, aims to cut child poverty by 25 per cent in five years.
The strategy also includes a $10 million investment to crack down on unscrupulous employers who take advantage of workers, and support for an array of community initiatives such as after-school programs in low-income neighbourhoods.
While the strategy is hailed as a welcome first step, race-based numbers need to be collected and analyzed, according to the Colour of Poverty Campaign, a province-wide group.
The issue of collecting race-based statistics is something the government has to look at carefully, said Children and Youth Minister Deb Matthews, who is in charge of Ontario's poverty reduction strategy.
"Ontario is in the midst of a social experiment here in that our level of diversity is quite extraordinary.
"We need to show the rest of the world that it works," Matthews said in an interview.
"When certain groups are not thriving we need to recognize that and get to work at it. Because our strategy really focuses on kids living in poverty, and racialized (people of colour) groups are disproportionately affected, this strategy will disproportionately affect those kids."
As the strategy is implemented, a further breakdown of indicators used to measure poverty will be considered she said, adding the link between poverty and race is acknowledged in the strategy report entitled Breaking the Cycle.
Some poverty indicators Ontario will use are birth weights, high school graduation rates and housing affordability. The campaign wants to see indicators broken down by race and ethnicity, gender, aboriginal status and disability, said Avvy Go, of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic and a campaign member.
The Roots of Youth Violence report, commissioned after the death of Toronto high school student Jordan Manners in May 2007, pointed to racism as a problem in Ontario, she said at a Queen's Park press conference.
"We are here to remind the government (that) in order to close the gap between rich and poor they have to close the gap between racial minority groups and the rest of the population," she said. "We want the government to expand its anti-poverty plan in order to include targeted measures that will address this particular issue."
Many things were missing in the poverty report, said NDP MPP Michael Prue (Beaches-East York). "There were no programs for the homeless, the aged, aboriginals. No programs or statistics collected that are race based."
The focus was only one key issue – eradicating poverty in children.
"They narrowed the focus to such an extent that they left out literally everyone," he said. It is also a mistake to pin hopes on a $1.5 billion cash infusion from the federal Conservatives in order to help break the poverty cycle, he added.
Excerpt(below) from provincial parliament (submitted by the NDP)from June 24 session 2008
Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Premier. A year ago, this government promised to make poverty reduction a priority. Last week, though, the Premier told Ontarians that they have to wait longer because times are tough and getting tougher. Ontarians are losing their jobs, some of them are being evicted from their homes, and many are being forced onto welfare. More than ever, now is the time for action. How much longer does the Premier expect Ontarians to have to wait to see serious action on poverty? A year? Two years? Or is it your intention to wait until after the next election?
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Premier?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I appreciate the question and the opportunity to speak to this yet again.
I'm proud to lead the first government that is going to put forward a comprehensive and effective plan to address poverty in the province of Ontario. The issue is not whether or not we are going to put out a plan this December to address poverty; it's the rate and the pace at which we can move on implementing that plan. I have said that several times. The economy is in a state of flux. I think we should do here what families do in their homes: If financial circumstances change, then you adjust and you focus on your priorities. You make sure you keep investing in those things which are absolutely essential that you are investing in at present, and you have to be careful about taking on new responsibilities. That's what I've said in the past.
We will put in place a plan this December. The only issue is-and I look forward to debating this with my colleagues-how quickly we move forward on that plan, the first of its kind put forward by any government in Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary.
Mr. Michael Prue: What I just heard was that we're going to have a plan, but no implementation. The Premier says this government can't move ahead with a poverty reduction plan because it is too costly, I assume, for Ontario's struggling economy. But many significant actions to reduce poverty would not have to cost the government a single penny. I'm going to give you four: This government could immediately increase the minimum wage to $10.25 an hour; this government could strengthen employment standards so that employers can't underpay and exploit workers; this government could cap payday loan rates at 35%, so that people don't see their scant dollars siphoned off at extraordinary rates; and this government could allow and bring back card-based certification, so that workers across all sectors can do what they need to to get better jobs. Why won't this government move ahead with these anti-poverty actions that will-
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I appreciate the suggestions; I really do. My colleague joins 8,500 Ontarians who have visited our "growing stronger" website. We have received over 600 thoughtful submissions. Almost 500 individual experts have engaged in our first-ever province-wide poverty consultations. As I say, we look forward to delivering on that plan in December, unlike the NDP when they were in government.
Let me tell you about some of the things we've been doing in the interim. We have in place a new Ontario child benefit, with monthly payments now flowing to families. It will support over one million Ontario children. We've raised the minimum wage several times over. We've raised social assistance rates several times over. We're investing in affordable housing, a new dental program, a student nutrition program and literacy centres for parents and families. So we're not resting. We look forward to delivering on that plan. We'll keep working in the interim as well.
JUNE 2ND, 2008 ONTARIO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAM
Mr. Michael Prue: My question is for the Premier. Thousands of Ontarians have disabilities. Those disabilities include mental, physical and emotional illnesses that pose serious barriers to their ability to work and earn a living. Through no fault of their own, people with disabilities who also receive ODSP payments are condemned by this government to a life sentence of poverty. ODSP benefits leave single adults $6,000 below the after-tax Statistics Canada low-income cut-off number. When will this government stop forcing Ontarians with disabilities to live on sub-poverty level benefits?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: It’s a very interesting question. This government has worked since we have been elected to improve the quality of life of those on ODSP. We have removed most of the barriers that were put in place by the previous government to prevent them to improve their quality of life. For instance, we consulted with them and some of them told us that they would go back to work if they were provided the medication by this government. There were also telling us that they would like to be able to retain more of what they are earning. So we worked on that. We have listened to them and we have amended our process to help them to improve their quality of life, and to help them if they want to go back to work.
Mr. Michael Prue: To the minister. And you continue to clawback everything they earn above $350 a month. Six ODSP recipients are with us here today—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I would just remind the members of the use of some language in here. Thank you.
Mr. Michael Prue: Six ODSP recipients are here with us today: Ken MacLeod, Cheryl Duggan, Kyle Vose, Mike Yale, Chris Sartor and Sharon McPherson. They’re all here in the west gallery. They’re here to ask the Premier to listen to their stories and for the Premier to consider standing in their shoes. The meagre 2% ODSP increase that was in this budget amounts to 60 cents a day. What they want and what we all want is a commitment from this Premier that no Ontarian with a disability will be forced to live in poverty forever. Does this government believe that $2 a day is a reasonable amount for these people to have after rent and food expenses in their pocket?
Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I will continue to let the people in the gallery know what this government has done since we came into power. We’ve listened to them. We have increased social assistance by—it’s going to be 9% this November. We know that they have a lot of challenge, and every time that we move forward to improve the quality of life, this party votes with their friends, who reduce their benefits by 22%. We’re listening to them. We want to improve their quality of life. We want to help them to return to work for those who are able to return to work. We are improving their quality of life so that they can keep their health benefits, they can keep their medication benefits and they can keep more of what they are earning and we will continue to work with them to improve their quality of life.
Tell Premier Mcguinty your thoughts! http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback/
Liberals trump NDP dental announcement July 10, 2007 CANADIAN PRESS
The Ontario Liberals will look at boosting funding to provide more
subsidized dental care for children and low-income residents, Finance
Minister Greg Sorbara said today.
The province is currently spending about $90 million on providing
low-income children with dental care, he said.
"But it's an area of public policy that's deserving of more attention,"
Sorbara said following a campaign-style promise by the NDP pledging an
extra $100 million to subsidize dental care for children and low-income
"They're (the NDP) not the first ones to comment on the need in this
area . .
. It's an area that merits further consideration as we go forward."
New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton said Ontario has the lowest spending
on dental care in Canada, covering only two per cent of overall costs.
Saskatchewan covers 17 per cent, and Prince Edward Island covers 12 per
cent, he said.
"It's time to fix this broken and unfair health system," Hampton said
a news conference this morning.
"(The funding would) provide real relief to thousands from the pain,
suffering and compromised overall health of dental disease."
The NDP plan would create "community dental health teams," and funding
would be increased over time to offer more service to low-income
residents who don't have dental insurance, Hampton said.
It's a smart long-term investment because poor dental health can lead
heart disease, diabetes and other serious problems, he added.
The free care could be delivered in community centres and in rural and
remote areas that are underserved by dental professionals.
Conservative Leader John Tory said he's more in favour of moving on a
$1.2-million, five-year pilot project proposed by Toronto Oral Health
that would help the working poor.
But Tory said he's more focused on the state of the entire health-care
"I don't doubt that there are many things that we could do to improve
dental and other kinds of health," he said. "My main concern has been
with keeping the existing health services going."
For Immediate Release April 19 2007
For: Editorial / News Desk/ 2 Pages
Re: Post: Meeting with Minister, Deputy Minister,Senior Advisors and Senior Staff
Minister agrees to participate in ongoing conference on poverty
First ever of its kind in the region!
York Region’s Poverty Action for Change Coalition (PACC) (along with York Region’s Alliance to end Homelessness and York Region Food Network) met with Ontario’s Community and Social Services Minister, Madeleine Meilleur, as well as the Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister, Senior Advisors and other senior staff, April 17 2007 at Queens Park. The meeting, scheduled for half an hour but lasting 1 hour, was requested on their behalf by Newmarket-Aurora MP Belinda Stronach; who herself has previously agreed to participate in a future “square-table” or “round-table” conference, designed to tackle poverty in York Region. Ms. Stronach had Constituency Manager Steve Hinder and her Assistant Maria Campbell attend on her behalf as she was in Ottawa.
The “Table” event, first proposed by PACC on the front lawn gathering at York Regional Municipal Headquarters on Oct 17 2006 on the” International Day of the Eradication of Poverty”, hopes to include federal, provincial, regional and municipal politicians, school representatives, health professionals, marginalized persons, social workers, religious organizations and others - working together in a non-partisan setting to assist in reaching action solutions.
The groups walked away winners, having convinced the Minister and Senior colleagues (after Ms. Stronach’s staff reiterated her support in their presence) that such an event would be helpful in future strategies to tackle poverty. It was agreed that it would not be a once only conference but a series of several gatherings.
PACC had declared that a formal commitment from both the federal and provincial levels would go a long way to ensure participation from others. The commitment to this proposal given by the Minister is a significant breakthrough for the impoverished in York Region and ultimately Ontario. This historic endeavor will be first ever of its kind for the region.
Both the Homeless Alliance and PACC pointed out that such an endeavor matches the ministry’s own (“Thriving Communities”) Strategic framework, which encourages working in partnership with community groups and others.
P 2 Continued PACC/ MINISTER
PACC also tried to convince the senior “ranking” audience, that immediate changes were needed in assistance rates for ODSP and Workfare (with inferred references to minimum wages) recipients and for an immediate end to the claw-back” to no avail. The Minister also shot down PACC’s request for an
“ Independent Advocacy Commission” to be set up on behalf of impoverished residents whom PACC maintains is systematically being abused across societies spectrum - in what they see as a sustained pattern. Minister Meilleur felt there were likely isolated incidents.
PACC remains hopeful that after having a chance to read an excerpt from their self-published book, Voices from The Edge; Living in Poverty - and in particular a new story submitted separately, that chronicles the ongoing nightmarish conditions that a local cancer survivor and single mom is having to live - and after participating in the “table’ – that they will be convinced otherwise.
“ This was an impressive senior staff audience which was encouraging, and despite not seeing any immediate concessions made, we believe it (the attending senior grouping) speaks to the fact that there is an awareness of room for improvement and as well we are encouraged by the Minister’s commitment to the “roundtable” which is significant. We acknowledge (d) that positive changes have been made within the ministry as good first steps, and we welcome the commitment to a Round-table type of conference - but we maintain that the current system and allowances fall considerably short”, states PACC Chair Tom Pearson, “and we still need recognition that mental health is a problem being partially fed by the current system’s set-up first, in order to have it addressed”.
PACC is a grassroots York Region community group, comprised of a unique cross - section of marginalized persons, as well as advocacy professionals and others, working together to eliminate poverty. www.povertyacc.com
From The NDP Party
· Dalton McGuinty first promised to end the clawback in the 2003 election – now he says he needs to get elected again to get it done.
· The OCB amounts to only $190 million this year – less than the cost of ending the clawback ($220 million). It doesn’t end the clawback today and is being phased in over 5 years – a long time in the life of a child.
· McGuinty promised to end the clawback, saying “the clawback is wrong and we will end it.” But today’s budget pushes the end of clawback of the NCBS back another 5 years. Families can’t afford to wait that long.
· Children born when McGuinty promised to end the clawback will be eight years old when their families finally see the value of the NCBS returned to them. Those who were ten will miss out altogether because they will be too old to receive the NCBS by then.Meanwhile, children in poverty are still waiting for action on other Dalton McGuinty promises:
o ODSP and OW rates are barely keeping pace with inflation – and people living on them are worse off than they were under Mike Harris in real terms.
o Dalton McGuinty promised to invest $300 million in new provincial dollars on childcare – instead he’s pocketed $140 million of federal money that was supposed to be spent on childcare.
· Even if McGuinty keeps his promise workers living on minimum wage will be living in poverty:
§ Dalton McGuinty’s minimum wage plan will leave people earning it in poverty. Statistics Canada says the Low Income Cut Off for a single person in a large city like Toronto is $20,778. A person earning minimum wage of $8.75 working 40 hours a week will earn $18,200 – leaving them nearly $2600 below the poverty line.
§ Assuming even a low rate of inflation that same single person will need to earn $22,126 a year to be living above the poverty line by 2010. At $10.25 an hour a person working 40 hours a week would earn $21,320.
o Theoretical studies of minimum wage, like the one Sorbara will present today, often predict job losses. But studies conducted on the ground after minimum wage hikes have been implemented tell a different story. In 2004, Santa Fe raised the minimum wage from $5.15 and hour to $8.50 - a 65 per cent increase to over $10 Canadian. A study by the University of New Mexico 's Bureau of Business and Economic Research found no significant employment effects, and that in fact in some sectors employment increased.
§ The author of the McGuinty government’s study has already confirmed that a $10 minimum wage would not result in job loss: “It's not that those jobs are lost, it's just that those jobs are not there now that would have been there” (Morley Gunderson, Toronto Star, March 21, 2007)
o A person earning the current minimum wage would have to work full-time for a year and a half to earn as much as the McGuinty Liberals paid Morley Gunderson to write a report. A person earning the current minimum wage would have to work full-time for two and a half years to earn as much as Dalton McGuinty increased his pay just before Christmas.
The Green Party would:
· Raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour and index it
· Set welfare rates above the poverty line
· Regulate the temporary work industry
· Provide support for those enrolled in continuing education
· Speed up recognition of foreign educational credentials
· Facilitate apprenticeships for the un- and under-employed
· Financially support stay-at-home parents
· Provide "assisted housing" for people with disabilities
"Child poverty is evidently Ontario Liberal government policy," said Frank de Jong, GPO leader.
"Why does a wealthy nation such as Canada have 15 per cent of its children living in internationally defined poverty, while far less wealthy nations such as Denmark and Finland have fewer than 3 per cent of its children living under such conditions?" asks Dennis Raphael, professor in York's School of Health Policy & Management.
"Canada's policy structures lead to it having one of the highest proportions of low-paid workers, lower benefits for those unable to work or experiencing unemployment, and spending less on pensions, disability, and families than most developed nations."
For further information:
Richard Pereira - GPO Labour Issue Advocate
Green Party of Ontario
Guaranteed income, guaranteed dignity TheStar.com - News - Guaranteed income, guaranteed dignity
March 05, 2007
Myriam Canas-Mendes loves her job as an outreach worker at the Stop Community Food Centre where she organizes public forums, connects recent immigrants to government services and helps out in the centre's breakfast and lunch programs.
The pay is between $10 and $12 an hour depending on the task. That's considered fair by advocates who are pushing Queen's Park to raise the provincial minimum wage to $10 from $8.
The problem is the single mom of two doesn't get enough hours to make ends meet. And so the 34-year-old Canas-Mendes has to rely on welfare to supplement her income.
Except that doesn't provide enough money to live on either.
Welfare does include basic health benefits – which her part-time job doesn't offer. But it denies her $226 a month in federal child benefits that she would receive if she were able to get full-time hours.
It's a vicious circle. And it traps people like Canas-Mendes and her family in poverty.
About 33,000 Ontarians – or roughly 15 per cent of the 220,000 adults on welfare – report some earned income and are in the same boat as Canas-Mendes, according to provincial social services data from last September. About 165,000 children on welfare are affected by Ontario 's policy of clawing back federal child benefits.
What can be done?
One solution gaining momentum is a guaranteed annual income for all Canadians.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May floated the idea earlier this year during a party convention in Vancouver . Respondents to a recent National Council of Welfare survey listed it as one of the top priorities for the federal government.
And a Toronto task force last spring recommended a basic income to help the growing numbers of low-income adults living in poverty. Most recently, Tory Senator Hugh Segal – a long-time proponent of a guaranteed annual income – told delegates to Toronto 's city summit alliance conference last week that he believes Canada has the money to ensure every Canadian can live with dignity.
"When we look at the billions we now spend on social policy, it's clear we have the capacity," he told a workshop.
At the University of Waterloo , sociologist Sally Lerner is among a passionate group of Canadian academics who back a guaranteed annual income.
"A basic income would put a floor under every single man, woman and child," says Lerner, who co-authored a book on the subject in 1999. "Think of it as a secure place to stand from which to build."
What's the holdup?
Part of what's holding back a guaranteed annual income is perception and language.
"People don't like the idea of entitlement," says John Stapleton, who was part of last spring's Toronto task force on Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults. "When they hear guarantees they think of rights without responsibilities."
If income is not tied to work – or even a desire to work – there's a worry people will simply choose to not get a job and we'll end up with labour shortages, he explains.
But if that happens, employers would have to make jobs more attractive by providing better pay, hours and working conditions, says economist Mike McCracken, president of Informetrica, an Ottawa-based economic consulting firm.
Any worry about looming labour shortages as baby boomers retire and our birth rate stagnates is also a red herring, he says.
A non-taxable basic income of about $1,000 per month for every adult would give retired people an incentive to work, since the current Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors is heavily taxed if seniors earn any extra income, he says.
"A basic income would restore the employer-employee power balance which has shifted away from workers since the early 1990s when Ottawa began denying unemployment insurance to those who quit," he says.
The big price tag of any guaranteed program is also a factor. And some worry governments would set the income so low people wouldn't be further ahead.
But with cuts to employment insurance – less than half of Canadian workers now qualify – and welfare rates that are as much as $10,000 below Statistics Canada's low-income level, it's hard to imagine how any program could be worse than the status quo, says University of Regina sociologist Jim Mulvale. Mulvale, who championed the issue during the Green Party convention in January, is hoping Saskatchewan 's NDP government may pick up the idea at a conference he's organizing in Regina in June.
Even progressive thinkers have some reservations. Ken Battle of the Caledon Institute for Social Policy likes the idea of a basic income. But he believes poverty needs more than a "one-size-fits-all" solution.
"The notion of a single program that could help everyone ignores the needs of the disabled, seniors and children," he says. And it doesn't address problems faced by recent immigrants, the seasonally unemployed or unskilled workers in precarious jobs, he adds.
Battle would rather build on existing programs. As examples, he cites:
· Raising the National Child Benefit to provide low-income children $5,000 annually – up from a maximum of $3,243 this year.
· Higher minimum wages with increases linked to inflation, beefed-up employment standards, plus federal and provincial income supplements and tax credits for low-wage workers.
· For working adults like Canas-Mendes, an overhaul of the welfare and employment insurance systems.
· For all workers experiencing temporary unemployment, Battle suggests federal income-tested benefits funded out of general revenues.
For the unemployed who need to upgrade their skills, he suggests provincial income and training support.
· For working-age adults unable to work due to age or health problems, a basic income could be paid by Ottawa as a limited form of guaranteed income.
The scheme would allow provinces to focus on employment and training and make Ottawa – with its larger tax base – responsible for basic income support for both seniors and working age adults.
Toronto's income security task force, sensing political resistance to reforms, opted to leave the current welfare and employment insurance system alone.
Instead, it recommended a minimal basic income of $150 per month for all working age adults living below Statistics Canada's low-income level. And it suggested another $200 per month for those who earned a specified income.
Combined with their earnings, the measures would provide an income floor of about $15,000 for the working poor – roughly what the neediest senior currently receives from Ottawa .
In January, child poverty activists wrote Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty urging him to introduce an Ontario Child Benefit in the budget to help low-income parents like Canas-Mendes whether they rely on welfare or not.
And federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to bring in a working income tax benefit, to boost low-income workers' wages. That could also help her.
For economist McCracken, this shows it's just a matter of time before Canada gets a guaranteed annual income.
"I've always felt Canada will move in this direction gradually," he says, adding the child benefit, in effect, is already a form of guaranteed annual income for kids.
For Canas-Mendes, who pays $750 a month for a damp basement apartment and sees half her earnings clawed back by welfare, change can't happen soon enough.
"I want to make something of myself," she says. "I want to be an example for my children so that they can live a better life."
Actions needed to press for a re-instatement of the federal min. wage at $10/hr!
NDP MP Peggy Nash has introduced a National Minimum Wage Bill, C-375, seeking to re-establish a federal minimum wage of $10 per hour. Seconded by NDP Labour Spokesperson, Libby Davies, and NDP Social Policy Spokesperson Tony Martin, the Bill would apply to all workers in the federal jurisdiction - like banking, telecommunications, inter-provincial transportation and railways.
With the recent release of the Federal Labour Standards Review (Arthurs' Report), recommending a national wage, there is an opportunity here to make real progress, to improve wages and the quality of life for Canadian workers and their families.
1.Write the Minister of Labour supporting this Bill;
2.Encourage individual members of your organization, council, federation or community to write letters to their MPs, asking for their support when the Bill comes before the House of Commons; and
3.Circulate petition and return it to the NDP to table in the
House of Commons.
This Bill affects workers in every province and territory. The impact of a federal minimum wage will extend far beyond these workers, and will set a higher standard for wages and will set a higher standard for wages and employment across the country.
For more information, sign petition, and facts about minimum wage, visit www.peggynash.ca , www.libbydaives.ca, the CLC at www.clc-ctc.ca, The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at www.policyalternatives.ca, or the Canadian Council on Social Development at www.ccsd.ca. The Canada Federal Labour Standards Review can be found at www.fls-ntf.gc.ca.
This article appeared in the Toronto Star - relates to the
Children bear scars of clawback
Nov. 2, 2006.
COLIN HUGHES AND MELANIE DIGNAM
MPPs wore purple ribbons in the Ontario
Legislature on Oct. 2 to recognize Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.
A pressing question was asked about child poverty âEUR" a major social risk factor in child-protection cases âEUR" and the province's practice of clawing back federal child-income benefits.
The federal government provides a National
Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) to low-income families to reduce child poverty. The province of Ontario deducts, or claws back, up to $1,463 a year of the NCBS from every child on social assistance.
Premier Dalton McGuinty promised to end
the clawback of the NCBS in 2003. So his government was asked: When is it going to honour its promise?
Because of the NCBS clawback, families with children on social assistance are as poor as ever. This is of great concern in child welfare because poverty debilitates families. Consider these typical case scenarios:
single parent's children go to school regularly with little to eat, holes in their shoes, and ripped and tattered clothes. Mom(or Dad) is quite isolated, relies on social assistance, much of which goes for rent, and relies on
Â· A landlord calls the police about a mother and children screaming in their basement apartment. Father, who has addictions, is charged with assault.
Mother leaves with her children to a shelter. She qualifies for welfare but, unable to find affordable housing, returns to an abusive relationship.
B· Grandparents consider taking in a grandchild whose parents cannot provide care. Social assistance provides $221 a month to look after a child in financial
need. But $122 a month in federal child benefits is deducted. The grandparents have small pensions and wonder how they can afford to help.
A decade of inflation and social assistance cuts has deepened poverty and sapped the purchasing power of benefits by about 40 per cent. At the same time, poverty among families on social assistance has been established as one of a number of contributing factors, independent of changes to child welfare policy, to increased referrals and
admissions to Children's Aid Societies.
A University of Western Ontario study of London-area child protection cases found that families on social
assistance are now having much greater trouble coping. Between 1995 (when welfare rates were cut dramatically) and 2001, the rate of children in the London area being admitted into Children's Aid Society care among families
relying on social assistance almost doubled. In addition, the proportion of cases of child neglect where mothers were relying social assistance mushroomed to 86 per cent of cases.
Why deduct federal child income benefits targeted to poor children from families who rely on social assistance?
Apparently it is to lower a "welfare wall," the "wall" arising when social assistance benefits are marginally better than low-paid employment. Notably, single
able-bodied adults are better off if employed full-time than on $536 a month in social assistance.
In reality, the "wall" is about children and the real additional costs and responsibilities of their
daily care. Using child benefits to reduce welfare leaves unemployed parents and their children no better off and at a standard of living that is too low. Do we really want to reduce a "welfare wall" so low-paid work appears more attractive and raise a "child welfare wall" within which children are at a higher degree of risk? What's on the
other side of the "wall" for children? Does employment guarantee children escape poverty? No.
As Campaign 2000 To End Child Poverty reports,
since 1995, the proportion of children living in poverty who have a parent working full-time has doubled to 33 per cent. In 2010 food-bank use across Canada is up a staggering 28%.Indeed, many families living in poverty cycle between welfare and precarious low-paying jobs.
Poverty is the problem. We must reduce poverty overall so parents can raise children in decent and dignified living
conditions, and so children get a good start in life, whether their parents are employed or unemployed. Investing in the next generation is important.
The experiences children have in their formative years have lifelong consequences. Society benefits socially and economically when families raise healthy children.
Our social policies must respond to the presence of children by investing in them, not by neglecting them.
McGuinty should act on promises to end the NCBS clawback and invest in more child care and affordable housing. That would lay the foundation for developing a multi-year, made-in-Ontario poverty reduction strategy, which could
include a new Ontario Child Benefit, to ensure that low-income parents are better off whether they are in the workforce or on social assistance.
Ontario's children deserve no less.
OW Rate and Benefit Increases
The government’s announcement in the 2006 Provincial Budget resulted in the following increases to Ontario Works social assistance rates and selected benefits:
There will be a two (2%) per cent increase to the Back to School Allowance.
There will be a two (2%) per cent increase to the Winter Clothing Allowance for eligible OW clients with dependent children.
There will be a two (2%) per cent increase to the basic need and maximum shelter allowance, and an increase in the monthly Guide Dog Benefit.
A cheque insert will go out to all clients in their August 1st payments outlining these upcoming increases to their social assistance and benefits.
New rate with 2% increase
Single Parent + 1 child*
Single Parent + 2 children
+ 1 child*
Single Disabled Parent+ 1 child*
Single Disabled Parent + 2 children *
+ 1 child *
TO: Community Services and Housing Committee Members
FROM: Joann Simmons, Commissioner
DATE: May 27, 2005
RE: National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) Clawback Update
At its April 13, 2005 meeting, the Community Services and Housing Committee sought clarification of York Region’s response to the advocacy campaign across the province to end the NCBS clawback. The Committee’s request was in response to a resolution received from the Greater Sudbury City Council calling on the Ontario Government to stop the current clawback of the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) from families in receipt of Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
The following information provides further background on the NCBS clawback and, from the Community Services and Housing Department’s perspective, concerns regarding how changes to treatment of the NCBS may impact on our programs and clients.
NCBS Clawback Background
The “clawback” was part of the original NCB agreement in 1997 between the Federal, Provincial, and Territorial governments. In Ontario, the Province adopted a policy to deduct dollar-for-dollar the full value of the NCBS (which eligible families receive as part of the federally-funded Canada Child Tax Benefit) from families receiving social assistance (OW and ODSP). Social assistance programs are cost shared 80% by the Province and 20% by municipalities in Ontario. The savings realized from these adjustments to social assistance were then reinvested by the Province in supports to low-income families that met NCB objectives of preventing and reducing child poverty, promoting labour force attachment for families, and reducing duplication. These changes did not reduce municipal expenditures related to social assistance because, as part of the cost-sharing arrangements for social assistance, the Province directed municipalities to reinvest their 20% of these savings (aka, NCB Reinvestment funds) in local supports that met community needs consistent with NCB objectives.
Since then, the Province has used most of its reinvestment funds to support the Ontario Child Care Supplement for Working Families.
York Region’s Investment
In York Region, these NCB Reinvestment dollars have been used to fund a range of supports to low-income families, including OW participants and families living in social housing. In 2004, over 4,800 children in York Region benefited from projects funded through NCB Reinvestments.
From the feedback received in our resident surveys and our review of child development outcomes in other jurisdictions, we know that these supports have helped families. Specifically, they continue to make it possible for low-income parents to work and be better parents and enhanced child development.
Regional Council Response in 1998
When the NCBS Clawback was announced in 1998, Regional Council passed a Resolution requesting the Province “rescind the decision to consider the National Child Benefit Supplement as income for Ontario Works clients thereby deducting the supplements from social assistance payments;” (Minute No. 288 as recorded in the Minutes of the meeting of Regional Council of The Regional Municipality of York held on October 8, 1998). As part of the resolution, Regional Council recognized that children in families on social assistance are among the poorest in our society while, at the same time, the purpose of the NCBS is to reduce child poverty.
The only action taken to date by the Province has been to commit in the 2004 Budget to review the clawback while allowing the value of a scheduled increase in the NCBS to flow through to social assistance recipients for one year. The 2005 Provincial budget commits to allow incremental increases in the NCBS to flow through to social assistance recipients for another year but does not address ending the full clawback.
Current Implications of Ending the Clawback
Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs), as directed by the Province, have invested NCB Reinvestment dollars in critical employment and child development supports to low-income families. In York Region, we continue to be concerned about the impact of NCBS deductions on vulnerable families on social assistance. However, we are also concerned with the future of the many programs funded by redirecting these funds and therefore the effect on the residents who rely on them, many of whom are on social assistance. The Community Services and Housing Department strongly recommends that should the Province decide to end the full clawback of NCBS that 100% provincial dollars must be provided to municipalities, in the same amount as the clawback, in order to sustain these valuable supports which NCB Reinvestments currently fund.
Should the Province end the clawback without replacing funding, York Region will face significant pressure to find the financial resources to continue these programs (approximately $800,000 annually). This will exacerbate the pressures of managing under-funding by the Province in many of York Region’s core social services. Community Services and Housing Department staff will continue to track the potential implications of ending the clawback on our clients and programs, and report back when changes occur.
FYI.. I recieved this through another listserv and I thought it would be good to pass along.
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Toronto - The McGuinty government appears unwilling to rescind the clawback of the child benefit for families on social assistance. This inaction deepens child poverty.
Reversing the clawback will help 1.2 million children - one in six in Canada - who live in poverty. This number has risen by 20% since 1989 according to the 2005 Report Card on Child Poverty in Canada.
"Poverty in a province this wealthy is scandalous. Ontario must tackle this issue," said Richard Pereira, the Green Party of Ontario Labour Issue Advocate.
Watch for a march called Stroll & Roll for freedom, coming in Spring of 2015, to end at Aurora MPP Chris Ballard's office. The "soft protest' march will be open to anyone interested to support a better deal for those on disability, and was the spearheaded idea of PACC Vice Chair, Dan Philion who is confined to a wheelchair. Stay tuned for more on this!
PACC's history of engaging politicians and process goes way back!
Announcement letter sent to all parties participating in 2008 Square-table on poverty in York Region:
Congratulations on your participation in the Square-table on poverty which will hold the first meeting at Magna Centre Newmarket, Multi Purpose room # 1 Feb 20 from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. We believe this forum is the first ever focusing on poverty in the region, and thus you are all a part of making poverty history. It takes leaders willing to sometimes think outside the box to make effective change and by committing to this forum you are doing just that - and serving your communities and constituents well by working towards solutions that will benefit all people in the end.
As discussed this non-partisan “square-table” will focus on finding solutions and actions that can eliminate or reduce poverty, especially in northern York Region. Consensus seems to be that the square-table would meet “quarterly” and would make periodic announcements where applicable.
In order that this forum be most effective it is suggested that the first meeting be to set the structure of the forum; including procedures – such as how we will receive information, deciding who if anyone else could also sit on the panel, perhaps forming a working constitution, setting goals, defining poverty, and breaking it down into segments as we move forward– employment, income, education, housing, other.
Although non-partisan - we understand that each individual may be representing differing parties and positions which is great, however everyone must be open to receiving others’ ideas and information in order that this work - and be open to discussing and making suggestions within one’s own party and constituents to further the group’s goals.
Each representative should be able to have input into the structure, and in subsequent meetings, be able to bring to the table any information and ideas they feel is pertinent so long as it is focused on reducing the affects of poverty - whether it be private, agency, government, educational, first hand experiences or other means – including that derived from campaign 2000 which has the added strength of economists information.
At this time our group consists of York Region representatives and experienced politicians from most levels of government including; PACC, M.P. Belinda Stronach, M.P.P. Frank Klees, Regional Councilor John Taylor, Mayor of Georgina Rob Grossi, and former mayor of Aurora and M.P. candidate Tim Jones. The group may decide to add more personnel after the initial meet.
I look forward to seeing you all!
Chair, Poverty Action for Change Coalition (PACC)
The following was presented by PACC to the Provincial Community Relations and Social Services Minister( Madeleine Meilleur), Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister and senior staff. Although they agreed to get involved in a series of conferences or meetings to address poverty, we were essentially told that the Minister didn't believe that the current system and social services rates were a problem; that there may be isolated cases but overall things were fine, as when Harris made the cuts he did in the mid 90's that the rates were artificially too high previously.We, and the thousands suffering, beg to differ.
Presented April 2007 to the Minister as follows:
Good evening everyone, I’d first like to thank our esteemed and honourable hosts for having us all here today as we certainly can appreciate that you are all very busy. We are encouraged by the fact that you are taking the time to hear us and also by the fact that we have representation here from the federal level as well - from Ms. Stronach’s office, as we believe the solutions to end poverty in York Region, Ontario, and ultimately Canada, lie with cooperating, differing governmental levels; and so we see this as an opportunity to assist such a liaison and hopefully make it fruitful. As stated earlier, my name is Tom Pearson- Poverty Action for Change Coalition’s Chair. PACC is a unique grassroots community group made up of individuals, both marginalized and not, some of who are professionals working in positions that relate to poverty including the help sectors, and as well endorsing community assist organizations.
I’m here today, along with my fellow esteemed colleagues whom you’ve met, as well as fellow PACC member Linda (Roberts), whom I also might mention is the Grand-daughter of Lily Bow – a woman who gave a tremendous boost to the origins of the Liberal party, and indeed Canada, both Federally and Provincially. Lily who’s family fought in both world wars for Canada, started out involved in recruiting, send-offs, and ‘Tatoos” before turning to full time to politics, many times turning down the offer to run for MP and MPP as she preferred to create waves in her own way within the party by acting on various committees and serving as President of the Women’s Liberal Association for several years. When Lily first arrived here as a young teen from Britain in 1913 and settling in Toronto, they were aghast at the city which was a place ripe full of overwhelming poverty – the downtown was scarred with pathetic slums and squatters, and on the streets peddlers, rag collectors, and junk collectors. Poor People worked long hours in factories without holidays or breaks for $350 per year. Homeless children walked the streets looking for food and there was no minimum wage laws, no unemployment insurance, no old age pensions, no welfare, baby bonuses or medical health insurance. Linda’s grand- mother became a spirited champion of these things and remained vocal to the end at age 98 when Lily Bow died, with this being the 10th anniversary year of her death. May she rest in peace.
Lily had received personal accolades and recognition from everyone from Pierre Elliot Trudeau, to David Peterson, to former Consul General/Minister of Defense Barnett Danson and was good friends (and booster) of the late senator David Croll among many others. Without specifically meaning to she was also a pioneering champion of women’s rights paving the way for women in politics today. Feisty Lilly was known to go toe to toe with the likes of Former prime Minister the late Lester Pearson no less, which brings us to me- as you may have noted my last name is Pearson. .. Just kidding there is no connection there! ..But it would have been good.
My point is, that it was the Liberal party who were hstorically championed poor and social concerns! So it is somewhat ironic that we find ourselves here today with descendant Linda sitting here, herself a victim of downsizing from a long time held court house position and who has only been able to regain marginal unrelated part-time work since, trying to assist in convincing you that our underprivileged need more help- both financially and systematically- but it is also a boon- because as I pointed out, the liberal party is steeped in tradition of helping the disadvantaged and correcting social structural problems within government : that being said, I would like to acknowledge that you have made some positive changes and on the last budget you did increase the rates by 2% - with gradual added incentives that are supposed to eliminate the “clawback” to welfare recipient families in theory, over the next 3-5 years. The recent sustained rise in gas prices alone however has already taken care of that 2% raise for those that travel by car to work, and the recent elimination of paid school busses to high- schools for some in York Region, forcing them now to pay $65 per month for transit to keep their kids in school, eliminates it for others, and indeed increases their costs. Natural inflation will take care of the rest of this gradual fade-in leaving us right where we started at - with people in crisis. Those are just two small examples that I hope allows you to see that this immediate “ raise “, that averages maybe 18-28 dollars per family, does not even dent the problem today. Mr Mcguinty promised to eliminate the claw-back, not defer it, and I implore you to encourage him to honour his pledge immediately. I cannot stress enough how little this is doing to help even any one of the 50,00 people (using them) in York region to stop from using food banks. These increases you’ve made will not change that stat. whatsoever, in fact it will likely continue to increase under it. We encourage you to raise that income rate today to present day cost of living levels. A 20 % hike- not 2 - would have been closer to reality - to make a real marked difference- to levels like what pre-existed before the Mike Harris slash and punish era.
Also food banks used to be used in emergency situations, not as a reliance like it has become, and I believe it should be the role of every government to reduce them, not stock them. I mean no disrespect to the food-networks either, as I certainly think we currently must use them - and they do need more tools to do it efficiently- however we feel the long term goal should be not to need them- except for emergencies.
People have a right to live in dignity and that means buying their own fresh food - food they and their kids like -not what is dealt to them - like a correctional facility food line. This reliance also gives the perception to the public that food banks cover all the sustenance and nutrients they need to survive on, and this is not the case. Food bank food is not fresh meats or vegetables but cans, rice etc and also often rancid or past due - with flies/bugs commonly accompanying rations. There are no regulations of the food banks, and thus people sometimes accidentally get poisoned food, which is why recipients are made to sign waivers before accepting it. No, food banks are not a working solution to extreme poverty and having to use one is another chip out of ones esteem, each and every time.
The stories contained in our book here, Voices From The Edge, will tell you that the 2007 budget additions are not enough. Just read one story, any one, and you will know. Some of the financial information may be outdated however the stories aren’t and they are real. These families - the one’s still intact- and individuals, continue to need help today, before they drown in a vat of mental health soup. As time passes marginalized income recipients’ (especially Odsp and workfare recipients) mental health declines significantly under the present set up, further adding to the dilemma by affecting the children. Funding children’s mental health, which you addressed in the budget, to your credit, is a start, but without treating the parents you are not treating the stem source, as this is where it mostly filters from and affects the children in many adverse ways.
I have witnessed marginalized persons that are demoralized both spiritually and esteem wise - by coarse and insensitive treatment and stigma they’ve received at the hands of society from social workers, to doctors, dentists, to schools, to colleagues, to strangers and it all takes a toll. Some have a hard time even leaving their front doors since because they have transformed into depressed, low self-esteem ridden individuals- many are single parents destitute for help. They need cheer leaders not demoralizers and PACC believes the system could use an overhaul in this area. Marginalized people’s rights are routinely taken advantage of in many situations as the fear to speak out or stand up for themselves, often outweighs the possibility of being displaced from income or housing.
Increasingly individuals and families are turning to us for help we cannot possibly give, and this is why we feel strongly that a type of ‘Independent Advocacy Commission” needs to be set up, and as well we feel that specialized sensitivity training needs to be implemented immediately across the board to all staff. Improvements were made by your ministry when dealing with ODSP recipients - as they are no longer threatened as often with being displaced due to incomes being held back for various reasons (usually a missing insignificant document), however one wonders why the others cannot be given similar dignified and stress reduced treatment. Routine notices that get sent workfare recipients allowing for action within 10 days or face being cut off their income - can often get lost or delivered to the wrong address resulting in individuals losing their income - not to mention the stress caused by simply receiving a notice. Usually the discrepancy is rectified, but usually after the fact and when it’s too late to save your rent cheque from bouncing or hydro or insurance or phone, and resulting in penalties etc – some that can never be reversed. Credit ratings if you had any are now non-existent which adds a future barrier to those trying to arise from the social system. In many cases a simple phone-call and not a notice would have sufficed and avoided these unnecessary hardships. These are systems changes that can be done that do not cost money – but done just by simply rearranging procedure.
Eliminating overpayment charges to recipients across the board could also instantly put extra income back into recipients’ pockets immediately as often the “overpayments’ were the fault of the Ministry and not the individual, yet they must then take a monthly cut when it is systematically taken off their cheques – payments that act as an income reducer sometimes lasting years.
Recently, this past January 15 on the years first snow storm a PACC member confided to me as he was moving during an eviction from Regional Housing - said to me in broken English, “Tommy, the lady (at housing) looked at me and she told me, “I will destroy you”, - this for having the audacity to stand up for his family when he fought being evicted. And this (housing/ workfare) was supposed to be his safety net, and this country his sanctuary. He suffered health problems too. Luckily he has had our friends with the Homelessness Alliance and others helping with the “transition” to being homeless. Last I spoke, his son was having troubles sleeping at the shelter. Their story is systematic of what I hear from marginalized residents throughout the system across all boundaries. Our book captures some of those stories, and I feel these are stories (and issues) you need to hear before setting off again in any direction affecting marginalized people.
You have an opportunity to change the very existence of people’s lives here today and in the future, by agreeing to go ahead and make significant changes. We’d also like you to commit either yourselves or a senior person, to participate in an across the region “square- table” with multi governmental levels participating and others (aid organizations, community groups, church reps etc) in order to assist making some real fine tuning changes affecting poverty. We’d like this to be an annual event and suggest Oct 17 International Day for The Eradication of Poverty as the declared day to hold such an event on (or an agreed upon date during the week of). We feel this idea mirrors your own mandate and policies on creating more partnerships and acting in unison with the community. We have many verbal commitments to this “square-table” idea already, but yours today would certainly add persuasive measure to ensure others join in.
We’d also like to know from the honourable Minister, Deputy Minister and Senior advisors what specific direction(s) you are heading in as a ministry, so that we can move with you in our goal setting up for our “square-table” and beyond. That way we can further work collaboratively, collectively, towards a common end.
So in conclusion, I implore your administration to take a stand today. Accept responsibility for mistakes of past governments and move forward by bringing marginalized income levels to realistic livable levels – by creating your own legacy; one of real change, one that raises spirits and hopes of a future not wrought with grief, worry, hunger, and ultimately the destruction of people’s beings. I promise you it will be remembered by all residents in a positive light come elections day, not that that should be a reason to do so.
As Lily Bow once declared in a letter to the editor printed in the 1960’s in the fight for medicaid for the poor during Bob Nixon’s drive to power - ‘I am asking you to visit your Liberal Committee rooms and study all their ideas and platforms. For a better deal for you, me, and our families, vote liberal on election day. Help me and others like me get these things while I’m still living, and in doing so help yourself and others. Remember, Canada is the greatest country in the world, no other can match it. Lets keep it that way and lets improve Ontario. Only your vote can do it” It worked for them then - and will work for you today!
We hope that you can continue this honoured liberal tradition of championing the underprivileged by agreeing to our proposals and proposed commitments asked of here today.
Poverty Action for Change Coalition (PACC) Chair
February 8, 2006
McGuinty Government Helping People With Disabilities Find Jobs And Increase Their Income
Changes Mean A Higher Quality Of Life For Social Assistance Recipients And Their Families
TORONTO – The McGuinty government is helping people with disabilities gain greater financial independence and increase their standard of living by improving the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Minister of Community and Social Services Sandra Pupatello announced today.
As part of its plan to restore integrity to Ontario's social assistance system, the government is introducing changes to ODSP supports and services to make it easier for recipients and their families to find jobs, keep more of what they earn and, for those who are able, move toward financial independence from ODSP.
"It's time our social assistance system did a better job of supporting people with disabilities who want and are able to work, and rewarding those who are trying," said Pupatello. "Having a job brings more than financial benefits – it gives people an opportunity to contribute to their communities and helps them fulfil their potential. That leads to a higher quality of life for our clients and their families."
Currently, more than 18,000 ODSP recipients are working. Many more are able and willing to work, but need the right supports. In the coming months, the government will implement a number of improvements that will help ODSP recipients and their families:
Find work – such as improving access to employment services, like job placement and retention support, to help recipients and their families find and keep real, sustainable jobs
Keep more of what they earn – such as replacing the current set of complicated earnings exemption rules with an easy-to-understand 50 per cent flat rate exemption combined with a new $100 monthly work-related benefit. For recipients this means that only half of their income will be deducted from their ODSP payment, plus they will receive an extra $100 per month – and as a result, the vast majority of current earners will automatically see an increase in their disposable income
Move toward financial independence – such as providing ongoing health-related benefits to recipients who find employment and leave ODSP until they receive employer health coverage, so people don't have to worry about how they will pay for their prescription drug, dental and vision care expenses.
"Our plan to help more people with disabilities get into the workforce will result in a stronger economy, stronger communities and a stronger Ontario," said Pupatello. "By investing in our people, we're investing in the future prosperity of our province
...Still More Politics!
15. Editorial: TURN ATTENTION TO ONTARIO'S POOR
[from the Toronto Star, March 18, 2006]
Ontarians spend $1.2 billion a year feeding and taking care of their pets.
Given that huge sum, just how much value do you think Ontario residents place on the 660,000 men, women and children who are dependent on them for social assistance? The answer is that Ontarians spend just over three times as much on welfare benefits as they do on their pets. That comes to a monthly average of just about $540 per recipient for food, shelter, clothing and all the other necessities of life.
That figure is disgraceful - especially when one-third of all welfare recipients are children, and another third are disabled adults.
Has the province forgotten the sense of compassion and caring that long defined it before the former Conservative government of premier Mike Harris slashed welfare benefits by 22 per cent some 11 years ago to pay for big tax cuts? The answer will come Thursday in the budget that Premier Dalton McGuinty's government tables at Queen's Park.
In a bid to remind McGuinty that the plight of Ontario's poorest citizens has actually worsened since he came to power, advocacy groups, including the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the Canadian Auto Workers and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, took to the streets Wednesday in a Hunger March, demanding an increase in social assistance. They want benefits raised by 40 per cent to make up for the 1995 cuts and the inflation that has eaten into welfare cheques since then.
The advocates claimed an increase of that magnitude is justified because after paying rent and utilities, some welfare recipients had as little as 35 cents a day to feed and clothe themselves.
The poor had the right to hold their peaceful protest. They also should have the right not to go hungry, as many of them now do. Underscoring the inadequacy of social assistance, All Saints Church drop-in co-ordinator Brian Buckle stresses what everyone on welfare already knows: "In the City of Toronto, you can't be on welfare and pay rent and buy food."
Joining the growing chorus of those who believe McGuinty can do better, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives this week released a pre-budget report urging the premier to stop ignoring the needy. Pointing to a huge windfall in corporate taxes the government didn't expect, the centre says the government has run out of excuses for leaving the poor behind.
While Finance Minister Dwight Duncan may not have all the money he would require to undo all the harm inflicted on welfare recipients over the past 11 years, he will unquestionably have the money he would need to reverse most of the Conservatives' original 22 per cent cut in benefits.
Although McGuinty has worked hard to repair the damage the Conservatives did to health care and education, he has done little to address the pressing needs of Ontario's most vulnerable people. He hasn't even entirely reversed the Tories' deplorable policy of depriving children on welfare of the money Ottawa provides for poor and middle-income children.
The time has come for McGuinty to declare his government represents the interests of all Ontarians, even those who are without a strong voice.
In Thursday's budget, the premier needs to let his voice speak for the disabled, for the province's poorest children and for their parents who go without so their children can eat. He needs to tell them that his government will give them the assistance required to make sure they at least have food on the table and a decent place to live.
16. Toronto Star Article: QUEEN'S PARK IGNORING LOOMING HEALTH CRISIS
March 10, 2006
By GARY BLOCH AND KATHY HARDILL
Over the past three months we have been witness to the escalation of a health crisis more dramatic than any we have seen in years.
It will have a bigger fallout than tainted water or SARS, a greater impact than obesity or smoking. The evidence for its existence and impact is strong.
The solution is well within reach, but those who can fix it just allow it to get worse.
This crisis is poverty, and the health risks forced on the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who live on social assistance.
In November 2005, the Ontario government placed new restrictions on the "special diet supplement." Since then, we have seen a steady stream of our vulnerable patients reporting their welfare cheques have been cut by as much as half.
This supplement has been available for more than a decade, allowing health providers to prescribe extra money for a healthy diet for those who required it.
The new restrictions make it almost impossible to obtain for most people who would benefit from it.
The diet supplement became an essential lifeline for welfare recipients after the Mike Harris Conservatives cut social assistance rates by 21 per cent in 1995.
Its importance grew with the failure of rates to rise with inflation and ballooned when the Ontario government refused to allow welfare recipients to keep the federal child benefit.
People receiving welfare today must survive with 40 per cent less spending power than they had 11 years ago.
Make no mistake: The new restrictions to the special diet supplement are simply another welfare cut.
A single mother with two children whom we saw last week had her cheque cut by $750, leaving her with no money for food once she paid her rent and bills.
Her children, like all those living in poverty, are more likely to develop a variety of illnesses and mental health problems, to experience hospitalization, to perform worse at school and to leave school early.
A young woman with HIV, who came to Canada 10 years ago as a refugee from Rwanda, saw her income fall by nearly a quarter, leaving her with little more than $750 a month.
Under the new rules, she will only be eligible for special diet funds once she begins wasting away from her disease.
Never before have we been forced to be complicit in an activity that so clearly harms the health of our patients.
Now, the government allows us only to declare whether a patient has one of the few health conditions listed on his form. Further, the amount of money now attached to these conditions is laughable - like the 30 cents a day for a person at risk of heart disease because of high cholesterol.
By requiring us to sign this form, the government is using our positions as health professionals to gain legitimacy for its latest welfare cut.
This cut represents the most recent assault on the incomes of people living on social assistance.
Our patients would love to work, but are inhibited by many factors, from lack of available jobs to physical and mental disability. They do not deserve to be forced into the health consequences of dire poverty, including a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
These conditions are preventable and will cost our health system far more over the long term than this government is saving with these cuts.
We feel it is our duty as health professionals to speak out against this attack on our patients' health.
Poverty needs to be elevated to the level of smoking and smog as a target for our health programs.
Last year, in response to the blatant unwillingness of politicians, bureaucrats, and members of our own professions to combat poverty as the leading preventable cause of illness, we formed Health Providers Against Poverty.
We did so because, in one of Canada's richest provinces, thousands of people are going hungry every day.
This is not because of famine or drought, or for other reasons beyond our control. People are hungry because they are poor, and the so-called social safety net is full of holes.
The provincial Liberal government raised social assistance rates a paltry 3 per cent in 2004, which is so insignificant as to be insulting.
This month, this government is presenting its spring budget. For the sake of our most vulnerable patients, it needs to include a rollback of the restrictions on the special diet supplement and a 40 per cent increase in welfare rates for all recipients of social assistance.
This will allow low-income people to live in dignity, to feed themselves and their families and it will address a strong, reversible risk factor for poor health for hundreds of thousands of Ontarians.
Gary Bloch is a family physician with St. Michael's Hospital, and Kathy
Hardill is a nurse practitioner with Regent Park Community Health
Centre. They are both members of Health Providers Against Poverty.
17. Toronto Star Article: Ontario Must Commit to Fighting Poverty
How is a single mom with one child supposed to feed and house herself and
her child on a monthly benefit of $987, asks Sarah Blackstock
March 15, 2006.
Every year there are numerous reports documenting the unacceptable and unnecessary levels of poverty across the province. One in seven people in Ontario are poor.
Report after report, rally after rally, plea after plea urge the McGuinty government to take action. Specifically, anti-poverty activists are calling for substantial increases to social assistance rates and the end of the deduction of the National Child Benefit Supplement from families on social assistance - something the Liberals promised to do.
But anti-poverty activists barely get a word out before government representatives are insisting "fiscal restraints" have tied their hands.
While the deficit is not unimportant, it cannot be paid for on the backs of the poor; people who themselves face such dire fiscal restraints that compromise their health, security and well-beingSNIP
To read the entire article, go to:
18. If You Wonder What Life in Poverty Is Like, These Recordings Tell it All
Please feel free to download and send to others. These programs are being burned to CD and sent to MPP's
"the Other Side"
93.3 cfmu-fm tuesday's at 12:30
"Other Side" radio show.
On the Special Diet and problems getting it.
Hamilton Round Table on Poverty
Audio of presentations made at Hamilton City Hall about the special diet cuts, poverty, and surviving on welfare.
Profile: ELANDERSON / My Drawer / Hampton - Clip 59 (limit 500)*>Howard Hampton.<**
Mar 02 2006 17:14:00 - Source: POL [The Canadian Press]
Liberals admit can't keep promise to end clawback of federal child tax
By Keith Leslie
TORONTO (CP) _ Ontario families on welfare and disability
assistance may have to wait until after the 2007 election before the
Liberals keep their promise to end a clawback of a federal child tax
credit, Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello admitted Thursday.
Pupatello said she didn't know if the government could keep the
promise made by Premier Dalton McGuinty during the 2003 election
campaign because of the $5.5-billion deficit left by the previous
``They were not honest with the public,'' Pupatello said of the
Conservatives. ``We had a massive deficit, and that altered our time
frame for every significant program which was part of our platform.
I believe that the Ontario public understands that.''
Families with an income of less than $22,600 a year are entitled
to a supplementary federal payment of about $125 per child each
month, in addition to the Canada Child Tax Benefit.
But it is clawed back from those on social assistance or
disability payments, costing the poorest families about $1,500 a
year, said New Democrat Leader
``I think that's disgraceful,'' Hampton said. ``And I think once
again it shows just how shallow some of the McGuinty promises
Pupatello was under attack in the legislature after a report
released Thursday by Ontario Campaign 2000 found 443,000 children in
the province are living in poverty.
The report concluded that Ontario's child poverty rate is stalled
at 16 per cent, and asked the government to end the clawback of
child benefits from families on social assistance.
``We're calling for a political commitment from Premier Dalton
McGuinty and his colleagues to implement an Ontario action plan for
children with an initial commitment of up to $1 billion in the
upcoming spring budget,'' said Campaign 2000 co-ordinator Jacquie
``The social security net is not preventing families from falling
deep into poverty.''
Pupatello said she wished the Liberal mandate was longer so they
could end the clawback, even though it was her government that set
fixed election dates every four years, down from the previous
maximum of five years.
``It's not going to be as long as I would have hoped it was, but
we do need those extra years,'' she said.
Hampton said the Liberals and everyone else knew the deficit
was bigger than the previous Conservative government admitted, but
still made expensive campaign promises that couldn't be kept.
``The McGuinty government is now in its third year,'' he said.
``It's time for Dalton McGuinty to start taking responsibility
for his own government, and for his broken promises, rather than
blaming the federal government or the former government.''
INDEX: POLITICS SOCIAL FINANCE
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