From The Chair's Podium
PACC meets as a group regularly and send out regular updates, blogs, and news emails to all our members on-line(attending and non). We receive regular emails about Make Poverty History from MPH and other poverty assist groups and then repost out all to our members that are hooked up to the internet which is around 500 and growing as well as to our poverty action for change face-book page. We also stay in contact with other poverty groups across Canada and Ontario from the various initiatives we have participated in such as the ATD Fourth World national evaluation in Montreal. We also post links and statements from Make Poverty History and ADT Fourth World and any initiatives we are involved in on our site at www.povertyacc.com
In June 2006- PACC Provided York Region Media Group, testimonial members and most information for their award winning 6 week series -June -July 2006 on poverty (distributed Region wide in various newspapers), written by Chris Traber, "Below The Line" includes comments/ insights from PACC Chair Tom Pearson.
Follow up letter to editor from PACC Chair, Tom Pearson, sent/printed a week after York Region Media Group poverty series, Below The Line finishes (to maximize exposure). Urges citizens and politicians to act/hold accountable.
PACC Chair Tom Pearson appeared on CBC Oct 17 2006 (Andrew Nichols, News At Noon) to promote International Day for Eradication of Poverty as well as promote PACC's host event in York Region. Criticized MP Belinda Stronach for not doing enough about the 50,000 people relying on food-banks in her own area.
Oct 17 2006- PACC- Hosted a first ever in history (friendly)demonstration against poverty in York Region, on the front lawn of York Regional headquarters (was a cooperative affair with York Region acomodating). PACC provided (our own) white bands/signs a sound mic, and voice to those fighting to or committed to ending poverty and free hot food for volunteers, attendees, entertainers, and marginalized people/members of PACC. Invitations to campaigners for municipal elections was heeded by good representation and as well some from other levels of gov reps including provincial and federal. In all about 80 people attended in the pouring rain. Pics on website at www.povertyacc.com
Oct 17 2006- being prior to election, PACC used the opportunity to get municipal candidates to speak to supporting helping end poverty and proposed an event (series of "squaretable talks) to find solutions to end poverty that would include all levels of gov and hear information/ testimony from those working/living in poverty including social workers, Church leaders, aboriginal supporters etc. PACC received support from various levels.
Nov 2006- Tom Pearson appeared prior to municipal election (for 2nd time in 2006) on Aurora cable show "Our Town" hosted by Dick Illingworth - a long time respected resident / show host, former Mayor and citizen of the year. Challenged politicians, including local M.P. Belinda Stronach to act and for all voters to make them (all gov levels) make it an issue.
PACC Attended local (Newmarket/Aurora/Markham/vaughn) municipal debates and asked tough questions regarding what candidates were prepared to do to help end poverty. Limited opportunity given here due to format.
Dec 2006- Letter to the Toronto Star by PACC Chair Tom Pearson printed, opens by commending them for their War On Poverty Series, and again takes a stab at Feds rep Belinda Stronach for doing little locally -she calls Tom directly soon after, agrees to meet, and as well to participate in a forum to end poverty. It is agreed it must be non-partisan and lead to action and involve various levels of government.
Jan 2007 - PACC attended national poverty evaluation hosted by International anti-poverty fighters, ADT Fourth World, examining national strategies for Oct 17 events and beyond. Dennis Howlett meets Tom Pearson here and reveals PACC may be able to get Sinclair Stevens to speak at an event should we have one upcoming.
(story of Montreal trip at www.povertyacc.com)
Dec 2006 Meeting with Stronach eventually leads to an April 2007 meeting with Prov Minister of Community Relations and Social Services, Madeleine Meilleur as well as Deputy Minister Kevin Costante, Assistant Dep Minister Alex Bezzina, Karen Glass Director of Ontario Works, Senior Advisor Gurpeet S. Malholtra and central east office personnel - Community relations Manager Michael Batrie and John Erskine-Kelly - however it had been pre arranged that we attend with two other agreed upon community groups (at request of Stronachs office to show a wider support network) - York Region Homelessness Alliance and York Region Food Network. Presenting parties seperately voiced their concerns but as a collective voice asked for committment to a series of "squaretable " talks leading to reducing poverty. Although Ministry does not acknowledge a problem - The Minister would only acknowledge that there may be isolated cases - they did agree to commit to a series of meetings or forum to study how it could be better serviced. Involvement with the other groups has since slowed the progress (due to slow committee processes) however we are still moving forward, possibly without the other groups should they not be able to keep up to speed. (This is an area we could possibly use assistance with by Make Poverty History.)
You may read PACC's complete presentation to the Minister et al on the website at www.povertyacc.com as presented by Chair Tom Pearson under the heading button "Politics".
March 22 2007- York Region Media Group - Tom Pearson, PACC Chair, asked to weigh in his opinions as an "ask the experts panelist' on the provincial budget, along with other "experts". Tom wastes no time ripping it apart as inadequate.
Ap 2007 - PACC - gave deputations to York Region School Board regarding the plights of marginalized students and the problems they face. testimonial members were again utilized to get the point across as well as facts provided by the PACC supporting York Region Legal Clinic. Growing cost, Hidden costs (including non- transportation for many high school aged out of pocket) and the trend towards charging for paper, pens, trips, books, computer use at homes, mandatory student / activity cards etc were highlighted as well and the stigma that can arise due to the current policies/set-up.
Above meeting was followed up with article circulated through York Region Media Group (Era-Banner, Liberal, Advocate)
June 2007- PACC Chair, Tom Pearson as well as 4 marginalized PACC members appear on Rogers 10 TV Show" Insights" which airs across York Region and beyond. Show generated influx of postive calls and flushes out new members and municipal support to help us make Oct 17 event 2007 bigger and with a higher profile by offering a cooperative spirit. The show producer has since contacted PACC to let them know that their episode has been chosen as one of 8 that will re-run continually all summer of 2007. PACC also asked to come back again to appear on "Insights" prior to the federal elections in the fall 2007.
Fast forward to 2010 and PACC's annual Youth road hockey Challenge hs moved to Main street and PACC has just hosted the 1st ever social audit for York region as well as had it accepted as an official report by the Region of York!
Le Trip du Montreal
PACC joins ATD Fourth World’s Pan-Canadian Evaluation
After waiting in minus 20 degrees temperatures for over half an hour, I gladly borded the bus to Union Station earlier having met with MP Belinda Stronach. Myself, other PACC members as well representatives of York Region Food Network, and from York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, had all been there to voice concerns and to push forward an idea regarding a “conference” on poverty.
Previously, in a phone call to me, Ms. Stronach had conveyed an interest to participate in such a forum, providing it lead to change - which served PACC’s interests for sure.I left the meeting feeling very upbeat about its outcome and the direction in which we were going.
Upon entering the GO bus it was nice to see the familiar face of Caroline, who would be accompanying me on the long trip to Montreal by train. We had coordinated things that she would board in Newmarket and I in Aurora, so I would have panicked had she not been there.
“Do you have the tickets?” Caroline asked
“ Yup” I managed to gasp, still stiff from the brutal air.
“ How’d it go?” she enquired while stuffing a soft- drink in my hand and a cookie in my mouth.
I’m sure I babbled on for half the bus ride, spewing out enthusiasm with every word.Heck, we had momentum going, a national TV audience interview for PACC on CBC with Andrew Nichol on the day of our event on Oct 17(The International Day for The Eradication of Poverty)sent us into overdrive, using the opportunity to draw attention to domestic poverty and to the square-table forum to find solutions to eradicate/ reduce poverty. This idea/discussion continued on into our Oct 17 event, and included church leaders, marginalized persons, politicians, candidates and others, speaking on the front lawn of York Region headquarters that cold, rainy day, and it had now made its way to the attention of the MP.
We made our way to the VIA departure area and in short order, were en-route. Neither of us had been to Montreal in some time and excitedly looked forward to thrill of being in another province; but we also knew we were there for a reason which was to share and learn from other similar organizations from across Canada at The ATD Fourth World International Day annual evaluation. We were one of only 3 groups representing Ontario and the only one representing any townships in Southern Ontario.
It suddenly dawned on me after arriving at Montreal’s main train depot, that not only were we not 100% clear on who we would be staying with, but that I also had no idea of what the person looked like who was meeting us. After a few uneasy moments, I locked eyes with someone who turned out to be our greeter from ATD Fourth World Movement Canada. Diego, originally from Columbia, smiled wide with a friendly cheshire grin and offered in accented English not typical of French Canadian, that he thought he recognized me from the website picture. Laughing, we collected up our bags as we all made our way into the ‘metro” and after a “short walk”, we were greeted (en francais) with open arms and a hot meal at ATD Fourth World Canada ‘headquarters’ located in an older house near Beaubien “metro’ station. Here we also began crude attempts at conversing en francais, failing miserably. Ha. Passez moi une roll de dinner!
Caroline seemed to attract an instant “admirer” after sketching a dinner guest in one of her famous caricature drawings, and funny enough he babbled on to her non-stop in french,as if she knew what he was saying, long after he was told she didn’t. He was a harmless older fella and likely one taken in from the cold that night. Caroline was absolutely hilarious in her attempts to converse with what little french she remembered from school with him, but her pictures spoke an international language and were well received by all!
After eating, Diego and now others we’d met, informed us of where we’d be staying. I knew we were being billeted, but was unsure of with who or where. I suppose I had thought that we’d likely be staying with some ‘rich’ local volunteers. Maybe someone who could show me the town for one evening, which was all I’d have free. Staying with nuns was not exactly what I had envisioned. Ha!
We were spirited away at 10 PM halfway again back across town (thank god in a car this time! Ha!) to "Nun Central", at a place called "Maison Orleans", which is I believe a type of shelter with self contained units and located in a poorer section of Montreal. It was beautiful! 5 star! Ha! And the sisters were fantastic with offerings of toast and eggs and cheese, cereal, coffee etc in the morning! Merci! Sister Lisette spoke a little English, and would translate our words during conversations to the other elderly but spry sister (who’s name escapes me). Regardless they were fantastic and welcomed us back anytime!
Next morning, we trudged off to the subway, sorry metro, on our own, PACC display materials in tow. After a rocky start (our bus was half an hour late.. Montrealers have likely heard English cussing now!) and another ‘short walk”, we arrived at the location for the Canada- wide International Day evaluation.
The Oct 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was first recognized by The ATD Fourth World out of France, prior even to the U.N. recognizing it. ATD Fourth World was founded in 1957 in a camp for homeless families and now has movements running in 24 countries with correspondents in over 100. They use the national evaluation as a means for groups to aid each other by sharing what is working for them and what isn’t.
Many ideas were floated evaluation day that we hope to bring back and implement, mostly ideas regarding the International Day. For example we heard that municipalities have had the whole week leading up to Oct 17 declared Poverty Week, this way awareness is created/extended. Another idea used was from Sherbrooke Quebec, where they managed to arrange free local bus service on the International Day. Multi-routed marches were also mentioned wherein everyone arrives at a central location. There were many interesting ideas (with interpreters) discussed, and most were impressed with PACC and what we’ve accomplished and our “day”. Some were particularly taken with our ability to get press coverage at a higher than local level, and at our actions -including our proposed ‘square-table” conference and our self published book, “Voices From The Edge”. In fact we also proposed at that time that such a conference would make for a good annual event something PACC, Stronach and others had all mentioned being a good idea as far as having an annual, so we figured why not on the International Day!? Perfect!
Anyway, I do believe that our enthusiasm was infectious as we got numerous compliments in this regard. We (via Caroline) also revealed our banner made for our International Day event by elementary school kids, as we had been asked to bring an object that exemplified some meaning to us from Oct 17. I chose a glass of water, representative of a basic need for the impoverished and to highlight our rain soaked International Day affair.. and poured it over my head! This broke the ice before my 3 minutes about PACC, which had to be instantly converted into french. Ha
Afterwards we (Caroline & I) left at separate times for the “short walk” to ADT World headquarters and somehow both managed to get lost. We made it back though, and laughed at our similar experiences. One person told Caroline it was too cold to stop to tell her how to get back but then another was quick to help! Me? I’m a man, we have a hard time asking for directions at the best of times, and so Caroline arrived back before me!
The Sisters had arranged for us to have dinner at the famous Resto Pop, a “communitarian” restaurant. It became known worldwide from a documentary that won many awards, about the old converted church which now serves up gourmet meals for 25 cents per dish. Resto Pop also gives jobs to people no one else would, and receives its food from discards from Hotels and the like. This place reeked of history, which I could sense while gazing around the impressive old high ceilinged cathedral convert - and as Sister Lisette told me,
“It is more of a church now than it ever was as an actual church”
I was introduced to Pierre , a former “worker’ at Resto Pop. Pierre too is a great guy, who I think had preconceived notions about “English’ Canada, and whom I also can say is now a friend. He was “assigned” by the nuns to show me around for my one night out (nice or what!), but we just ended up mostly walking around the streets shooting the breeze all night - while Caroline and the Nuns watched TV! Caroline really took to the sisters, and if not for her ‘bum’ knee flaring up, I’m sure might even have described the stay as therapeutic!
The biggest systems difference I noticed immediately is that rent there for a one-bedroom apartment could be found in the city for $195 per month, and this wasn’t subsidized! It also includes heat/hydro! Mind you they are paid less in wages in Quebec I’m told.
Pierre also informed me that the building he lives in does not charge rent at all in January to give people a break! Ooh-la-la! Never in Ontario! Surprisingly, I don’t even recall seeing one homeless person on the streets while there. Mind you it was cold.
I also met Dennis Howlett from Make Poverty History (national) campaign there among others, an ally who has offered us an opportunity (possibly) to utilize Stephen Lewis should we be so inclined to have him as a guest speaker. All in all it was a short but great stay that accomplished a lot for PACC as an organization and for us as individuals.
The ride back was filled with vigorous discussions as you can imagine, particularly with two opinionated chatterboxes like us. By the way Caroline you still owe me 5 bucks because as I said Kim Mitchell was not knighted!.. and I still say that Tim Horton’s is owned mostly by Canadians because it is now a publicly traded company!!!
Is not! Is so! Not! So!
(Sigh) Oohh laa-la!
PACC is not affiliated with nor officially endorses any political party. Below are PACC's Terms Of Reference for public viewing.
Terms of Reference
Poverty Action for Change Coalition (PACC)
1.1 The Poverty Action for Change Coalition (PACC) is a group of community members/individuals, faith groups and community agencies that came about as a result of low social assistance rates (Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program).
2.1 To raise community awareness of poverty and the income security issues facing York Region residents through research, public education and initiatives that effect change.
3.1 Raise social assistance rates to the actual costs of rent and living.
3.2 Index social assistance benefits to the cost of living.
3.3 Provide adequate level of funding for childcare allowances.
3.4 Provide transparency to recipients around all benefits available under each program.
3.5 Educate various groups/organizations and community around issues facing people living in poverty.
3.6 Identify and work toward eliminating barriers in each social assistance program.
3.7 Raise wages to levels above the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO).
4. Geographic Scope:
4.1 York Region
5.1 Anyone may join PACC by supporting the mandate of PACC. Participation levels may vary without discrimination.
5.2 PACC members will identify what they are interested in being involved with (i.e., meeting, actions, etc.).
5.3 If membership is sought, people will be given:
5.3.1 PACC Terms of Reference
5.3.2 PACC Endorsement form
5.3.3 Directions to accessing PACC website
5.3.4 Offer to participate in list serve
6. Accountability and Confidentiality:
6.1 The coalition is accountable to its members. All working groups and sub-committees are accountable to the membership of PACC. All individuals who sign Endorsements are considered members.
6.2 All members of PACC must respect and protect fellow members’ rights to privacy and confidentiality. A members’ information will not be disclosed or shared without explicit permission from the member. Please see attachment What is Confidentiality?
7.1 Co-ordinating Committee
7.1.1 The Co-ordinating Committee includes the Chairperson of each Chapter or their designates, two representatives from each Chapter, and up to three representatives who are in receipt of Ontario Works and/or Ontario Disability Support Program.
7.1.1a Chapter Chairs and Representatives on the Co-ordinating Committee represent their Chapter membership, not their individual selves.
7.1.1b Preference for Co-ordinating Committee representatives/membership will be given to individuals whose income is lees then the current Low Income Cut-Off (LICO). This can be determined through self-disclosure.
7.1.2 The Co-ordinating Committee is responsible for co-ordinating chapters and being a conduit for information.
7.1.3 The Co-ordinating Committee will have the power to make decisions regarding:
7.1.3a reviewing and making decisions regarding use of finances
7.1.3b approval of Chapter activities, i.e. research, public education and initiatives.
7.1.3c input and maintenance of the website
7.1.3d facilitation and development of other chapters
7.1.4 Where possible, consensus will be obtained by the PACC membership (Please see Decision Making, 8).
7.2 Finance Committee
7.2.1 The Finance Committee will consist of six members.
7.2.2 Three (3) members will have signing authority for PACC'S bank account. Two signatures are required for signing at all times.
7.2.3 The Finance Committee will update Co-ordinating Committee, through a financial report for the month. This report will be given to the Co-ordinating Committee at its monthly meeting and will be distributed to members via chapter meetings and emails.
7.3.1 Chapter Groups are encouraged to form and develop based on geographic location, social identity, etc.
7.3.2 Chapter Groups will meet monthly.
7.3.3 Ideas and suggestions for research, public education and initiatives from the Chapter Groups will be brought to the Co-ordinating Committee each month.
7.3.3a Materials, including but not limited to, letters, flyers, etc., related to approved Chapter activities will be completed and approved by the Chapters without the need for approval by Co-ordinating Committee/PACC membership.
7.4.1 Sub-committees may be created to work on specific issues from time to time.
7.4.2 These sub-committees will report to the Co-ordinating Committee.
7.5 Chairpersons for Chapters
7.5.1 There will be a Chairperson for each Chapter who will be chosen by the Chapter.
7.5.2 The Chairperson will hold a two-year term in office that can be renewed.
7.5.3 The Chairperson is responsible for ensuring the effective functioning of the Chapter through preparing agendas and attachments, circulating minutes and information, maintaining order at meetings, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to speak at meetings, summarizing decisions fairly, ensuring follow-through and serving as a spokesperson for the Chapter. The Chair’s conduct must be underpinned by PACC’s mission, purpose and values. Please see attachment What is the Role of the Chair (for PACC Co-ordinating Committee and Chapter)?
7.6 Chairpersons for Co-ordinating Committee
7.6.1 There will be a Chairperson for PACC Co-ordinating Committee who will be chosen by the Committee.
7.6.2 The chairperson will hold a two-year term in office that can be renewed.
7.6.3 The Chairperson is responsible for ensuring the effective functioning of the Co-ordinating Committee through preparing agendas and attachments, circulating minutes and information, maintaining order at meetings, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to speak at meetings, summarizing decisions fairly, ensuring follow-through and serving as a spokesperson for the Chapter. The Chair’s conduct must be underpinned by PACC’s mission, purpose and values. Please see attachment What is the Role of the Chair (for PACC Co-ordinating Committee and Chapter)?
7.7.1 This will be a member designated at each meeting to take the minutes for that meeting and will forward completed minutes to the Chairperson for distribution.
7.9 Organizational Structure
7.9.1 PACC is a grassroots, community-based and led organization.
8. Decision Making Process
8.1 Any major policy recommendations or actions should go through the membership and decision to act is made by the Co-ordinating Committee through consensus.
8.2 A recommendation regarding any of these activities will follow this process:
8.2.1 Recommendation minuted in Chapter minutes and distributed to membership
8.2.2 Co-ordinating Committee reviews recommendation and makes final decision on outcome.
8.2.3 Co-ordinating Committee brings decision and reason for decision to membership via email, prior to acting on decision.
8.2.4 Any person, agency or group that does not support the recommendation will have the opportunity to abstain or have their lack of agreement recorded.
8.3 All decisions will be minuted.
9. Meeting Frequency
9.1 All Chapters will meet monthly.
9.2 Co-ordinating Committee will meet monthly.
9.3 All Sub-committees will meet when necessary or as outlined above.
10. Agendas of Meetings
10.1 The Co-ordinating Committee agenda will include, but is not limited to:
“1. Welcome and introductions
2. Review of the last meeting minutes
3. Follow-up regarding requests for Chapter and Committee activities from last meeting.
4. Reports, discussions and requests from Committees
· Education Committee
· Finance Committee
5. Reports, discussions, requests and website submissions from Chapters
· Keswick Chapter
· Newmarket-Aurora Chapter
· Richmond Hill Chapter
· Youth Chapter
10.2 The Chapters’ agendas will include, but are not limited to:
“1. Welcome and introductions
2. Review of the last meeting minutes
3. Chair and representatives report on Co-ordinating Committee
· Education Committee
· Finance Committee
· Other Chapters
4. Website Submission
Amended July 20, 2006
Revised (numbering) June 15, 2006
Revised June 7, 2006
January 25, 2006
PACC Chair Tom Pearson’s community involvement started in the 80’s at Toronto’s (once)famous Restaurant Race as a member of a team that opened Pat & Mario’s Restaurants Toronto’s very first chain concept to combine Dance/DJ and dining. This experience.Seeing the recipient Easter Seals kids would be a great influence. As a full time single dad he returned to his roots and where his experiences have further shaped his direction.
Experienced Community Builder
- 1994-99 Founding Committee Member Great York Region Restaurant Race, over $100,00 raised Easter Seals.
- 1994 Original Committee Member Newmarket Youth Centre, successful lobby for Centre now 15 years running
- 1994 Created "Youth Beat" forum for youth in CoverStory Newspaper, York Region
- 1995 Created/produced/Hosted "On A Serious Note", segment regularly formatted into variety T.V. Show, Out & About, focusing on a special cause
- 1998 Created Sing-A-Tune for a Tuney talent contest for Easter Seals
- 1997-98 Concept-ed and produced C.D., "Light The Way" with Feds & United Way -first ever cooperative of it's kind. Record Federal United Way fundraising year.
- 2001 Volunteer for Joe Wamback campaign to support victims. Wamback since created Canadian Crime Victims Foundation
- 2002-present Coordinator Mulock Village Development Committee - co-ordinate meetings and events for lower income children/families
- 2004 created the Mike Thornhill Memorial Award given to an outstanding lower income home - youth
- 2004-present -2010 creator/organizer annual Road Hockey Youth Tourney for youths
2005- 2010 - Organizer International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (YR).
2006- 2010 (Founding) member / Chair Operation Sparrow - free activities programs for kids
2005 Co-author - "Voices from the Edge"
2010 Co-Author / Convenor York Region ISARC
Social Audit " Behind The Masks" Testimonials from those marginalized by income
2012 - Awarded Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding performance to the country over and above the regular call of duty.
2013 - Nominee York Region Character Award
- Appears as Elvis and the Grinch once a year for special causes!
- Tom has also been a full time single Parent for the past 16 years!
Mr Pearson is a film school graduate with credits in the radio, Film(including developing American feature films)and TV industries from Host to Actor to (Associate)Producer to Writer,and he has produced and hosted live events and media for more than 15 years.Tom has worked alongside some of the top Executive Producers in North America including as Associate Producer on, Animal Planet U.S. #1 Neilsons movie rating in 2004, "Miracle Dogs" with Kate Jackson, Betty White and Wayne Rogers.
At the peak of his film career, Tom began treatment for a chronic illness and eventually found himself needing the assistance of some the very causes he has fought/volunteered for in his adult life.He has recovered strong, met many new and loyal friends in the process, and his passion, and belief in people, has not waned.
Tom is currently producing several documentaries including one depicting Poverty in YR...you can see highlights from the entertainers who performed Oct 17 2010 at the International Day for The Eradication of Poverty event here: