Over 60 community members gathered in the North Bay Public Library on the morning of May 30 for a Community Briefing on Poverty Reduction, organized and presented by the Provincial Consultation Working Group (PCWG) of the Nipissing District. A community coalition of this diversity and strength demonstrates that Nipissing wants to participate in new collaborative partnerships and initiate change. The PCWG is calling for policy change related to poverty reduction at both the local and provincial levels.
A wide variety of people were in attendance including Monique Smith, MPP for Nipissing, city councillors, health and social service representatives, the media and concerned citizens. Jim Sinclair moderated the briefing, sharing personal stories and insight throughout the morning.
The written report of the PCWG, entitled “Poverty Reduction in Nipissing District: Perspectives and Priorities” was released. As stated in the media release, “The report is not just numbers and data. It contains excerpts of real life stories from local people who have experienced the hardships of poverty. Their contribution adds the realism that a graph or statistic cannot truly present. This report was not written to sit on a shelf and gather dust. The poverty reduction recommendations focus on upgrading living conditions and strengthening local supports. These goals are reasonable and obtainable. It is time for action to reduce child and family poverty in Ontario.”
A panel of PCWG members presented the report. Bill White (DNSSAB) presented the statistical portrait of poverty in the Nipissing District, which was further strengthened by the qualitative themes presented by Dennis Spencer (DEOC).
Additionally, four community members living in poverty presented their stories. They spoke of their struggles, disappointments and triumphs. Dr. Whiting, Medical Officer of Health, presented recommendations offered through the PCWG research and by those living in poverty.
Several people spoke from the floor, offering further insight and recommendations during the question and comment period. Suggestions from the floor included improvements to the public transit system, encouraging breastfeeding, and the reallocation of funds to the Telemedia Children’s Fund to provide financial aid for low-income families experiencing medical emergencies.
MPP Monique Smith congratulated the PCWG, and ensured us that the concerns and recommendations, as stated in the written report, would be brought to Minister Deb Matthews as part of the provincial poverty reduction consultation process happening across Ontario. MP Anthony Rota also commended the work of the community coalition and stated his desire to eliminate poverty in our District.
Concluding remarks were presented by Lynn Landry, Chair of the North Bay Social Planning Council, and Sister Priscilla Solomon, Chair of the Provincial Consultation Working Group.
For additional questions about the Community Briefing, please contact Jim Sinclair at 705-472-5849 or firstname.lastname@example.org.