On Tuesday afternoon, July 8, more than 50 community members attended a session at Lyle S. Hallman Auditorium at Wifrid Laurier University for a presentation by Marvyn Novick and Peter Clutterbuck of the SPNO on a Policy Framework for Poverty Reduction in Ontario. The event was sponsored by the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo and opened by Trudy Beaulne, SPCK-W Executive Director.
The presentation was very well-received and generated some interesting discussion summarized briefly below:
- It is difficult to have to respond to people who propound all the traditional and unjust stereotypes about people living on low incomes. It is important to point out that all people have personal limitations, but some are better positioned to deal with them because of their position in society or resources available to them. People without decent living conditions have no such advantages so that it is unfairly assumed that their personal limitations account for their poor living conditions.
- Even a minimum wage of $10 in 2010 is not enough to live on. A recent Waterloo Region Report indicated that the $10 minimum wage would not be sufficient for someone living in a bachelor apartment in the City. This is why we must consider the whole income package when talking about adequacy to live in dignity out of poverty. The whole package includes a housing allowance, a work tax credit, and an increased child benenfit for families with children.
- Child support is factored into the social assiatnce rate as a reduction for single moms. This is the kind of benefit reduction that must be eliminated.
- Programs are needed not just to help low income people make the rent but also to have the chance at home ownership.
- The importance of recognizing and supporting a clear and present voice for people on low income in the policy development is critical. People with policy knowledge and experience are also needed to effect change. It is not one over the other but both together.
- We need to tell the stories of low income people in promoting poverty reduction proposals such as the Policy Framework.