Blueprint Goes Farther North (Thunder Bay)

On Monday November, 24th Marvyn Novick presented the Blueprint for Poverty Reduction to a group which included community service leaders, agency representatives, low income advocates, labour, and public health officials. The group was extremely receptive to the content of the presentation and was unified in their support for the Blueprint.

Discussion regarding the content of the presentation included the following recommendations:

  • There was strong agreement for the need to change the existing punitive rules of the OW and ODSP social assistance regimes. A suggestion made was the establishment of an independent panel to review the rates for both programs each year.
  • There were also calls from the group to increase support for post-secondary students in Ontario to alleviate massive debt loads after graduation.
  • There were a number of recommendations made regarding the situation found in the remote north including: the provision of potable water, regulation of prices for necessities (i.e.: $5 for a litre of milk), and address the disproportionate number of Aboriginals with disabilities not receiving ODSP, transportation costs for engaging far north communities (the costs of travel across northern Ontario is massive as this area encompasses 87% of the province).
  • The concept of regional hubs to address specific issues of the North was stressed as many unorganized townships need this hub as they can’t/won’t organize around issues facing their communities.
  • A specific recommendation made for the restructuring of OW was to look at the issue of a trustee needed or a guardian for individuals under the age of 18.
  • Another recommendation was to address the attitudes and work culture of OW and ODSP case workers and also improve the policy regarding EI and workers accepting severance packages.

We received excellent media coverage from this event to build awareness for poverty reduction locally. Thunder Bay Television News interviewed Marvyn as well as CBC Radio host Gerald Graham in an in-studio appearance.

Report prepared and submitted by Aaron Park, Lakehead Social Planning Council.

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