Minister’s Consultation – Scarborough Consultation (June 10, 2008)

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)

One thought on “Minister’s Consultation – Scarborough Consultation (June 10, 2008)

  1. ? Will Deb Matthews comment and make note regarding these matters?

    Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO)
    Lenny Abramowicz, Executive Director

    (Speech at Southwest regional training – April 11, 2008)

    He said
    Although clinics will never be able to help every person who is in need, it is unquestioned that
    we would like to be able to help more than we are helping now. Overall, clinics are not as
    accessible as we would like to be. And we are particularly not as accessible towards certain
    groups: those with physical or mental disabilities, those who don’t speak English as their first
    language, and those who live in rural and remote areas. There are particular challenges involved
    in providing services to those groups. (Fortunately, the ACLCO and clinics are presently
    working with the Law Foundation who have initiated a project on accessibility issues.)

    I say
    This needs to be fixed immediately.
    The system could be held for discrimination (Duty to accommodate)

    He said
    Allow me to make a brief comment about money. It is undeniable that more money would help
    solve some of these problems. It is also undeniable that, considering the need, there is
    nowhere near enough money being spent on poverty law services in Ontario. The demand for
    our services is insatiable and it is depressing and demoralizing to all of us to have to turn away
    or provide only limited services to so many. It is also undeniable that the government has the
    resources to meet these needs, but chooses to spend most of it in other places: in other areas
    of the justice sector, such as high profile prosecutions of alleged terrorists and gang members,
    or on significant salary increases for crown lawyers, judges and tribunal members.

    I say
    The clinic system here in Ontario spends thousands of man hours year after year holding
    and speaking at public events. Putting this information on the Internet once and for all to
    see would free up lawyers time and have a major impact on helping the people that the
    system was designed to help in the first place.

    He said
    We must also find a better way to share the information and knowledge that exists in the clinic
    system. Our colleague, Kevin Smith at Parkdale often says, “there does not exist a single
    problem confronting a clinic that some other clinic hasn’t already dealt with”. I think he is
    right. We are pretty good at sharing our substantive legal information, but not as well in other
    areas such as management and administration. The problem is that too often we are each left
    to figure out the solution on our own, sometimes reinventing the wheel 80 times over. We
    must find better ways to share the tremendous wealth of knowledge that exists in our 80
    clinics.

    I say
    The clinic system must have a Internet data base for main Tribunal decisions that the
    general public would have access to. They already have this information but keep it to them
    selves. This would not be expensive to do and would have major saving in wasted Tribunal
    time.

    Ron Payne
    Welfare Legal
    Hamilton, Ontario
    E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com

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