More than 75 people came out to an early morning meeting at Cambridge City hall on Friday, October 24 to express there support for “Now is the Time to Reduce Poverty in Ontario”.
Sponsored by Opportunities Waterloo, the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo and the Social Planning Council of Cambridge & North Dumfries, the event featured Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig, who read a resolution endorsing the 25 in 5 Declaration passed by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo on October 8.
Guest speaker Peter Clutterbuck of SPNO and the 25 in 5 Network reviewed the progress in the cross-Ontario campaign to build support for a poverty reduction strategy. Several community members shared their knowledge about the seriousness of the poverty issue in waterloo Region from both a community, professional and personal perspectives:
- Ann Tinker, a leader in the homelessness and affordable housing movement in Waterloo, spoke to the rapidly rising demand for shelter services in the community among both individuals and families. It is critical that affordable housing and housing allowances be a significant part of a poverty reduction strategy.
- Len Carter, community activist and local labour leader, raised the issue of major job losses in the region and the substitution of bad jobs for the previous good jobs with decent wages and benefits and working conditions. A good jobs strategy is an essential component of a poverty reduction strategy
- Deb Schlicter of the Home and Friendship Centre also expressed her concern about deteriorating living conditions for Waterloos’ low income people and support for the 25 in Declaration.
- Melanie Faith-Hope, who introduced her self as the “face of poverty” in Waterloo told of her own personal struggles to be recognized as a whole person with a contribution to make to the community since a disability plunged her into poverty and put her at the mercy of unfair and dehumanizing bureaucratic rules that impede rather than support her community involvement.
The gathering ended with a Stand Up of those who had endorsed the Declaration, both organizations and individuals, and those how indicated that they would be doing so. Computers with an Internet connection to the 25 in 5 web site were set up and available in the meeting room to give people a chance to endorse the Declaration before leaving the meeting.