“There’s too much month at the end of the money…”
On a rainy Friday in Thunder Bay the 20 person group included people with disabilities, seniors, and Aborginal People. They spoke about the causes and challenges of poverty specific to Northern Ontario: a boom/bust economy where there’s few new, well paying jobs; racism, exclusion and the long term impact of residential schools on Aboriginal People; the cost and limitations of public transit and high fuel costs. There was a call for higher social assistance rates that meet the cost of living, and more flexible government assistance programs that support the particular needs of the individual instead of boxing people in with rules. More subsidized child care spaces are needed, and more affordable housing. Medication costs should be covered for everyone. Better education and training programs are needed so people can access good jobs with benefits. More coordinated Aboriginal-specific services are needed to support the growing number of people moving into town from First Nations communities. Many of these issues will be raised when Minister Deb Matthews is in Thunder Bay on June 16th.
Prepared by Jacquie Maund