About 45 of approximately 70 invitees came out to the Minister’s consultation in session in Scarborough on June 10. Participants included executive directors of agencies, LHIN’s, social services, Children’s’ Aid Societies, community boards, think tanks, etc.
MPPs attending included Deb Matthews, Michael Prue, and Margarett Best. Political staff also attended along with a few people from Cabinet Office. City of Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc was also present. There were no members from the media.
The consultation followed a facilitated exercise where participants were led through the six questions in the government brochure.
Tables were colour coded and a mix of people was at each table. For example, one table included FSA Toronto, a community board member, a well known activist from the Wellesley Institute who has an interest in housing, a CAS director and another agency director. Other tables included an ODSP action group member, a labour council member, urban aboriginal representation, and a CCPA member – generally a fairly representative group from the community, activist and voluntary sector, mostly at a senior level with exceptions.
Each table picked a facilitator and someone who would take notes while others were picked by each table to report out. All were encouraged to leave behind written comments and to engage the website.
A number of participants advanced the proposals in the 25 in 5 Declaration. They also stated that they did not see the reallocation of resources question as particularly germane to poverty reduction. Most of the tables who reported out on this question simply ignored the cost-neutrality aspect of the question.
The meeting was very cordial but the table spokespeople all spoke with passion and conviction about the government’s important commitment to move substantively on poverty reduction. Most of the 25 in 5 themes were repeated over and over by table spokespersons whether that was their intent or the direction coming from their table.
At the end of each round of questions, comments from the floor were permitted, which worked well likely because of the manageable number of people present.
Minister Matthews was very engaged in the process and said that each meeting she has held is different often based on differences in community size. She talked about her previous meeting in Kingston one day earlier where most everyone in the room knew each other while this was not the case in Toronto.
Many of those who spoke talked about how services and sectors could be better coordinated (e.g. education sector with the service sector).
Minister Matthews noted that there would not be a specific report done on the Scarborough session but a more general indication of what the consultations heard would be available later on-line.
The issue of a government paper on what they were going to do (white) or what their options are (green) was raised several times. Minister Matthews said that although a good idea, there would likely not be time for that.
(Thanks to John Stapleton for notes from which this report was created)