In this week’s bulletin:
Quote of the week
“We could no more abandon our efforts to reduce poverty than we should abandon working with our businesses to increase productivity.”
The words of Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan to more than 200 business people in a speech at the Canadian Club, October 16.
More than 200 registered for Toronto Network Assembly
Join 25 in 5 and community leaders for the Toronto Network General Assembly, The Countdown to a Poverty Reduction Strategy.
October 27th from 1:00 – 4:00 at Macdonald Block, 900 Bay Street
MCed by Pat Capponi, the assembly will feature an update on the province’s poverty reduction strategy by Minister Deb Matthews.
Also featured are keynote addresses by Lisa Donner, Director of Half in Ten (the American poverty reduction strategy endorsed by Barack Obama), and Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, as to why we can’t afford to wait. There will also be opportunities for participants to network, ask questions and get updates on the progress made towards our shared goal of 25 in 5 since the April 14th event.
Register now at www.25in5.ca
Federal Election Results won’t sway 25 in 5 objective
The federal election on October 14 produced another minority Conservative government. While the Conservative Party is the only national party not to make a commitment to poverty reduction in its policy platform, poverty reduction plans at the provincial level can still be achieved.
In an article published in the Hamilton Spectator today, Rabbi Arthur Bielfeld and colleagues with the Campaign Against Child Poverty point out that both Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador have undertaken their own initiatives in the last six years to significantly reduce child poverty in their respective provinces. “If Ontario goes it alone, with no federal help, the five year short-term goal [of a 25% reduction in poverty] is certainly within reach,” writes Rabbi Bielfeld. Read the article here.
There is no question that achieving the second target of a 50% reduction in poverty by 2018 would require a willing federal partner working in partnership with the province and its municipalities and communities. Much can happen in federal politics in the next few years including a united opposition demanding that the current government work with the provinces to take action on poverty reduction.
In her column in the Toronto Star on October 17, Carol Goar writes, “the three opposition parties captured more than half the seats in Parliament. The Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Québécois all want Ottawa to tackle poverty. Their policies are very similar. If they are prepared to use their combined strength to advance policies that will help struggling Canadians, they have the votes to make headway.” Read the article here
The poverty reduction issue will remain on the national agenda at the Parliamentary level. The Human Resources and Social Development Committee (HUMA) chaired by NDP MPP Tony Martin is scheduled to resume its cross-country consultations on poverty reduction. The Senate Committee on Rural Poverty has already issued its report and another Senate Committee on Poverty formerly chaired by Liberal Senator Art Eggleton will be re-struck and begin its deliberations.
International Day Kicks Off a Month of Community Events on Poverty Reduction
Poverty Watch Ontario lists more than 30 community events and actions across the province in the month of October promoting a plan for poverty reduction in Ontario. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Friday, October 17 served as a kick-off to most of these events as Ontario communities joined their voices in solidarity with their counterparts around the globe.
Several reports coming in to Poverty Watch Ontario over the weekend mark the impact of these events on their communities:
- Owen Sound – 80 community members came out to a poverty march to the Farmers’ Market at City Hall where a stone soup lunch was served. Singer/songwriter Linda Aldridge told the “Story of Stone Soup”. The rally focused on the importance of the province to maintain its commitment to a poverty reduction plan despite the economic slowdown. Participants included low income people, social and health agency leaders and workers, labour and business leaders. Quotes from the stories of low income people were printed on paper plates for delivery to the local MPP Bill Murdoch.
- Cornwall – 65 people came to City Hall to raise a flag for poverty reduction and to encircle themselves in a giant white banner symbolizing a giant Make Poverty History community “wristband”. The event highlighted statements by low income people and their supporters in Cornwall and poems were read in English and French. Several Cornwall City Council members attended and expressed their support for the community’s concerns. Cornwall City Council has endorsed the 25 in 5 Declaration.
- Kingston – 70 people came out to the “Dying for a Meal” event hosted by the Salvation Army. Participants included MPP John Gerretsen, the Mayor and three City Councilors. Sponsored by the Kingston Food Providers Network, the event urged the provincial government to fulfill its 2007 provincial election commitment to produce a poverty reduction strategy. The event highlighted the findings of a report by Kingston’s public health unit that people on social assistance or earning minimum wage do not have enough money to pay the rent and feed their children an adequate and nutritious diet.
- Jane-Finch in Toronto — More than 100 low-income people, youth, social and health community supporters, labour leaders and others came out to the corner of Jane-Finch in Toronto to rally for An End to Poverty Now. Live entertainment included skits, raps, singing and drumming as the rally marched with placards around the four corners of the Jane-Finch intersection.
- Cobourg – the Northumberland Poverty Reduction Committee released its report on poverty in Northumberland County at their 6th Annual Justice Forum. Former MP Christine Stewart spoke supporting action on poverty reduction “especially as the economy falters.” Reports from several special areas of study such as transportation and housing were made and a roundtable discussion on the findings was held. For more information, click here.
Poverty Watch Ontario will post reports on local events which it receives daily. Consult the calendar on the Poverty Watch Ontario website for events in your area.
Owen Sound Woman Talks Rural Poverty at the UN
Bayshore Broadcasting reports that Colleen Purdon of Owen Sound joined a University of Guelph group called “Rural Women Making Change” to launch a second UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty on October 16.
Purdon feels that Canada has not adequately addressed its own poverty problem, especially with respect to women. Pointing to the cuts to social assistance in the 1990s, the report states, “Purdon says the cutbacks disproportionately impact women and families, especially single women.”
Purdon released a Report Card on Rural Poverty to the UN on Friday.
New Brunswick Launches Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Initiative
New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham and Social Development Minister Mary Schryer announced on October 17 the launch of a process to develop a poverty reduction plan for New Brunswick by the end of 2009. “While many initiatives provide assistance to people in need, the province requires a more comprehensive social development approach to address poverty,” said Premier Graham.
Minister Shryer invited all parts of the New Brunswick community to get engaged in the dialogue, saying, “Developing a poverty reduction plan is a shared responsibility.” The process will be undertaken by a joint supervisory team of provincial government officials, the business sector and the non-profit community.
National Council on Welfare Hears from 25 in 5 Reps
The Board of the National Council on Welfare (NCW), an arm’s length advisory body to the federal government, met in Toronto this past week. On Thursday, October 16, the NCW Board invited ten representatives of Toronto-based and provincial organizations for a discussion on poverty in the City and Ontario. All the local and provincial participants are actively engaged in the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction.
There was a good discussion on both the face of poverty in the city and province and the action being taken to support a poverty reduction plan at the provincial level. It was noted that the main elements of 25 in 5’s Declaration are very consistent with the four cornerstones of NCW’s Solving Poverty Report:
- A national anti-poverty strategy with a long-term vision and measurable targets and timelines.
- A plan of action and budget that coordinates initiatives within and across governments and other partners.
- A government accountability structure for ensuring results and for consulting Canadians in the design, implementation and evaluation of the actions that will affect them.
- A set of agreed poverty indicators that will be used to plan, monitor change and assess progress.
25 in 5 participants suggested to the NCW that it could help provincial poverty reduction initiatives by encouraging the federal government to become engaged in partnership with provinces and communities for the reduction of poverty across Canada.
Add your voice to the 25 in 5 Declaration
By endorsing the 25 in 5 Declaration we can send a clear message to the Provincial Government that action on poverty reduction cannot be delayed:
Just some of the new organizations to endorse this week:
- City of Kingston
- Wraparound Durham
- Peterborough County-City Health Unit
- Timothy’s Place
- Canadian Mental Health Association – Grand River Branch
- Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
- Dixon Hall
- Christ Church of Long Sault
- Rob Hutchison, Kingston City Councillor
- Girls Incorporated of York Region
- Community Visions
- Make Poverty History [Trinity-Spadina]
Add your voice. Visit www.25in5.ca and sign on for poverty reduction by endorsing the 25 in 5 Founding Declaration.
About the Countdown to a Poverty Reduction Plan eBulletins
The 25 in 5 Network is steered by a coalition of Ontario organizations including Campaign 2000, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the Social Planning Network of Ontario the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, The Colour of Poverty Project, the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice, Voices From the Street, among others.
This is a weekly bulletin from 25 in 5 to its contact list of supporters and interested parties across the province. The Countdown Bulletin is intended to keep you up to date on the development of a poverty reduction plan for Ontario and to let you know how you, your organizations and networks can help make it happen.
For more information visit www.25in5.ca