Minister’s Community Consultations

he Minister of Children and Youth Services has released the locations of her community consultations on a poverty reduction strategy for Ontario. The scheduled dates are:

  • Peterborough, May 5
  • Cobourg, May 6
  • Ottawa, May 9
  • Hamilton, May 12
  • Windsor, May 21
  • London, May 23, 10 AM to 1 PM (NB- changed from May 20)
  • Sudbury, May 26, 2 PM to 5 PM
  • York Region – June 3rd, 5 – 8 pm, Markham Village Community Centre.
  • Peel Region – June 6th, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM, Chris Gibson Community Centre
  • Kingston – June 9th, 12 – 3 PM (Kingston City Hall)
  • Toronto, East Side – June 10th, 5 – 8 PM (Cedarbrook Community Centre).
  • Thunder Bay – June 16th, 12 – 3 PM, (location TBD)
  • Toronto, West Side – June 18th, (location TBD)
  • Kitchener-Waterloo – June 19th, 1-4 PM (Lion’s Arean, 20 Rittenhouse Road)

The Minister is also encouraging MPPs to participate in additional community consultations in communities not listed above and to invite the participation of her colleagues on the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction.

Further information will be posted here as it becomes available as well as the plans of the provincial organizations working on a poverty reduction strategy for Ontario on how to participate in the consultation process.

13 thoughts on “Minister’s Community Consultations

  1. Welfare in Canada should be a right. If a person doesn’t want to work who is able-bodied, they shouldn’t have to, and should still be able to collect a Welfare check every month! All you brainwashed (from birth) Capitalists have to get off your high horse! Workfare? What a croc of capitalistic humiliation!! The last few generations of humans here in Canada have been so brainwashed (and reenforced by their brainwashed friends and family) that they can’t see what’s really going on. The rich get richer and they keep the middle class in check by deflecting the attention away from themselves and on to the poor. Do you have any idea how much waste and fraud the government and civil servants create?!! The middle class isn’t much better raising rents to ridiculous amounts (and justifying it by saying that ‘it’s the going rates, these days.’). Money grubbers will always be money grubbers and the rich and the majority of the middle class are the culprits. It’s took me a long time to realize this to be the truth as I didn’t want to face it, but after studying the situation for more than 50 years, the only sane conclusion is that the majority of humans will do almost anything, when it comes down to it, for money, and that includes taking away the scraps that are dolled out to the poor. I hope in the future more compassion for the poor, for laziness, for daydreaming, and for moving away from Capitalism and it’s money grubbing effects on humans, will happen. I doubt it though, in reality humanity will consume and exterminate itself. We won’t have to worry about a meteor from space, humans will just inevitably do it to themselves via immaturity, greed and disconnectedness. Boy, do I ever hope the afterlife is only for the poor!!!!

  2. ‘Poverty through Social Stratification’
    Quote “Poverty is defined and interpreted in different ways. It is a complex and multifaceted
    phenomenon with many forms and causes. Academic debates on the subject are packed with
    controversies over how to differentiate the ´poor` from the ´non-poor`. A poverty line is
    generally taken to be a threshold, in terms of income, below which people can be considered
    to be ´poor`. Researchers, scientists and policy makers attempt to ascertain different levels
    and causes of poverty. In describing and conceptualising poverty they often use such terms as
    vulnerability, deprivation, isolation, powerlessness etc.
    As noted by Robert Chamber a single poverty line that divides the population into the ´poor`
    and the ´non-poor` is often inaccurate because it simplifies and standardises what is complex
    and varied (Chambers 1995). According to Beck (1984) the policies that are formulated to
    alleviate poverty will be more relevant to the manipulation of statistics than to the needs of
    people. It is very essential to place considerable value on qualitative aspects such as
    independence, security, self-respect, identity, close and non exploitative relationships and
    legal and political rights (Wratten 1995 and Chamber 1995).”[paper presented by M. A. Shantha Wijesinghe]
    There is much more aspects of deprivation other than just income poverty. increasing knowledge of more in social stratification of poverty- document found at
    http://www.sasnet.lu.se/EASASpapers/20ShantaWijesinghe.pdf

  3. Dear Liberals,
    Thank you foe asking public how we feel.

    If only my voice would be heard and considered.

    I’ll be quick here; it hurts immensely to even touch the subject.
    I am a University Diploma holder with the 10 years of experience in Animation and Graphic design. I worked at the postproduction companies in Toronto and had earned over $55 thousands annually.
    Now, I took the job $10 per hour. That hurts, it would anyone. Yes I am in poverty, barely making it. Always looking for cheaper groceries” deals and try to do without new clothing.

    If only those companies could be somehow restricted a bit from sending jobs to India and China, and allow us work here that would make a whole lot of difference. I am convinced that there are a lot of us that suffered from loosing jobs, because cheap labor abroad.
    I am concerned about my children, which both are college students, needs clothing, food, books and fees to be paid in order to remain students.

    How they feel about this, they are the Future of this country, aren’t they?

    Sincerely,
    Mother of two,
    and the taxpayer,
    and a foster parent to a child in Nepal

  4. As a recipient of ODSP many of the comments here are areas that I have on several occasions brought to the attention of all the Ministers of Social & Community during the last six (6) years. Yes , the workers are in many cases not knowledgeable about the areas that are questioned by the client. Yes I have been to the extreme of accessing my file & the words used to describe me showed how the workers express their belief & bias against their clients; it was SHOCKING.
    The Province downloaded Social Assistance to the City, since the situation has led to more wide spread poverty.
    Many on ODSP will find if they are close to 59+ you are pressured to apply for the Federal Disability Pension. If your try to work part time etc you are again penalized as your income is not calculated as the CRA describes i.e. Sales less Expense; the system calculates all sales then reduce your benefits monthly, even if no Service/Sales was produced during that period, yet there is submission each month on the Income earned which was zero they still deduct what they feel is what you should have earned.
    Further is even more vindictive that the only time they will assist with your Utilities is when a dis connection notice is received. Lastly i would challenge any Minister given this portfolio should have to live one year given everything that a present client has to undergo now. Will the consultations bring any changes? I will hold my breath carefully as the answer will still be the same, “We need more consultation” in the mean time more people are left to either consider if State sanctioned euthanasia is were we are being led.

  5. WHO IS REALLY COMMITTING THE FRAUD AROUND HERE

    The general public has no idea what the system is really like. They think fraud is ramped in Ontario Works and ODSP. Here is something to think about and it is just the tip of the iceberg according to our research.
    The provincial government says welfare fraud is around 2%.
    Who is really committing the fraud around here?
    The federal government says income tax fraud is 13%

    Ontario Works staff charged in $1.3million Fraud
    By Sarah Elizabeth Brown Tuesday March 4,2008
    Chronicle Journal http://tbay.ok.bc.ca/stories.php?id=95704

    Budget cuts allow more Ontario Works staff fraud.
    http://www.toronto.ca/budget2005/pdf/cns_shortfallservicelost.pdf

    Government ODSP worker charged in $585,000 fraud case.
    By SooToday.com Staff Wednesday, November 14, 2007
    SooToday
    http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=28485
    http://odsp.blogspot.com/2007/11/former-government-worker-charged-in.html

    93.7 million dollars in corporate welfare
    Linda Leatherdale March 7,2008
    http://money.canoe.ca/Columnists/Leatherdale/2008/03/07/4938021-sun.html
    http://theoldcraftsman.com/blog/?p=387#comment-174
    Premier Dalton McGuity is handing over a 9.7 million dollar corporate welfare cheque to Kellogg. Kellogg’s profit was $1 billion. Also Ford got a $55 million cheque and is now cutting shifts, while GM got $29million and is also cutting shifts.

    $150 million called corporate welfare for a profitable industry.
    Rob Ferguson January 10, 2008
    Queens Park Bureau http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/292631
    The Ontario Government has earmarked $150 million to encourage pharmaceutical companies to do more drug research and manufacturing in the province.

    Ontario government coughs up about $940 million a year on grants like this one.
    Health Canada has been advised that Tic Tacs are being voluntarily recalled. Premier McGuinty should demand taxpayers get back the $5.5 million the government gave to this corporate welfare failure.
    http://www.taxpayerblog.com/2008/04/health-canada-advisory-recalling-tic.html

    ******************
    An internal audit in Hamilton, Ontario showed that Ontario Works staff were taking the city’s credit card out and enjoying a nice lunch privately.

    The same audit showed that the Ontario Works workers had uninterrupted access to the main computer that issues their clients checks and admit missing cheque signatures.
    http://www.myhamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/EB0B3640-1762-4BB2-AA41-479304DB9381/0/Dec05CM07029OntarioWorksOperationsofDataCentre200707.pdf

    Isn’t that a recipe for disaster?

    Ron Payne
    Welfare Legal
    Hamilton, Ontario
    E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com

  6. This was sent to the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, the Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Hamilton city councilor Bernie Morelli, via e-mail on Feb 24 08.

    My question to you and to myself is how do they get away with the callous and unjust manner that workers approach their clients with, at Ontario Works, ODSP and even the Social Benefits Tribunal?

    The answer is very simple. BECAUSE THEY CAN

    For the record I would like to state, I have seen many improvements to the SBT since a change of it’s Chair and I expect to see many more. I can’t say the same for Ontario Works and ODSP.

    The research shows when clients have contact with workers the response is not always the same. You could ask three different workers the same question and receive three different answers.

    If the worker doesn’t especially like you, they will simply ignore you. This means things like no return phone calls, ignoring verbal requests for benefits, requesting more than usual documents be brought in to prove eligibility and so on.

    If the worker really doesn’t like you, they will often do everything in their power to harass, intimidate and frustrate you into giving up and going away. This means things like ignoring written requests for benefits, telling you that the benefit doesn’t exist, denying benefits when you are entitled and no decision letters and so on.

    If the worker does like you, they will give you any of the benefits that you ask for if you entitled. This is only if the worker is aware of the benefits requested. Here is an interesting problem. The vast majority of the workers are not aware of benefits that are available. This even includes some of the excellent workers. Another problem is that the fast majority of clients don’t even know what the benefits are.

    ********All clients must document, tape record and video record everything, every time when dealing with any OW or ODSP staff. ********

    The governments must, as a gesture of good will, give all Ontario Works and ODSP clients a written copy of the benefits that they say clients are entitled.

    This would be a first concrete step taken to start the process in eliminating poverty.

    Ontario Works Directive # 31.0 found at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/ow-directives/ow_policy_directives.htm or the:

    Ontario Disability Support Program Directives #s 9.1 to 9.19 Found at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/odsp-is-directives/ODSP_incomesupport.htm

    The only real remedy to this problem is for clients to sue their respective governments. For Ontario Works it would be their local municipal government and the Province of Ontario and for ODSP it would be the Province of Ontario.

    In the Ontario Works Act it states No personal liability

    77.(1)No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director, a delivery agent, an officer or employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act.

    In the Ontario Disability Support Program it states No personal liability

    58. (1) No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director or a delivery agent, an officer, employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act. 1997, c. 25, Sched. B, s. 58 (1).

    This means that a client could sue for damages if bad faith could be proven.

    It is called bad faith; a person who intentionally tries to deceive or mislead another in order to gain some advantage.

    It is called willful blindness or willful deceit.

    The government must get rid of the discretionary powers it allows workers in the OW and OSSP, Act, Regulations and Directives.

    You’re either entitled to benefits or your not. It is extremely simple but the government will not do it until it gets sued for Bad Faith.

    It’s so simple; all the government has to do is to look at how the federal government implements its Employment Insurance application process, and they are saving millions.

    To receive benefits you must go online to apply, with exceptions for some disabled clients. You fill out a simple template and the next thing you experience is a cheque in the mail. If the federal government trusts us why can’t you?

    Ron Payne
    Welfare Legal
    Hamilton, Ontario.
    E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com

  7. My second comment is that there has been literally no consultation or movement in Niagara Region. I guess we must all be dead here, or there is no poverty here. Our situation is different, because our region’s fathers continue to believe that everybody drives and has access to a vehicle, or they wouldn’t be forcing low-income people that want to work or remain self-employed to pay prohibitive taxi fares … to be honest, for many it is cheaper to sit at home and do nothing than to transport oneself to a job in Niagara. Until then, Niagara will remain the laughingstock of the environmental and sustainability movement, as well as economic growth — particularly as close to half of our manufacturing sector shut down in a whim since 2001. Wake up, Niagara, and stop being so complacent. Deb Matthews, come over here and consult with the people here in Niagara, as our voice is NOT getting heard.

  8. There appears to be only one focus in this consultation; children of families in low-income, who are NOT on ODSP/OW.

    It is unrealistic to assume that parents on ODSP will be able to join the labour market. Some will, but because people with disabilities have huge disadvantages when it comes to competitive employment, I say, “Good luck”. They are getting their incomes cut anyways, come July 1, 2008, to pay for this Ontario Child Benefit. They are told to “save”. Can any of them save right now? I doubt it. What it means is MORE reliance on food banks, and in its absence, missing more meals, not getting clothing, kids going to school with holes in their clothes and toes sticking out of their shoes. Can somebody tell me — especially from policy circles — how a family on ODSP/ OW is going to benefit from this new cutback? I might have missed something here.

    For fellow anti-poverty activists, it is clear to me that ODSP/ OW families are PAYING for the Ontario Child Benefit. This fact must not escape us. Virtually nothing is going to change for these families, except get worse.

    The other comments made by the woman at the top of the page about having an MSc and her brother being a PEng … speak up MORE please and LOUD AND CLEAR. We do not need to learn how to read and to write, or to get our high school diploma, or how to learn “social etiquette” and other useless skills, that we either already have, or are not going to get us one iota further out of poverty.

    Professionals with disabilities for the most part got their credentials here in Canada, but like the foreign professionals, our credentials are not recognized either. When a low-income professional with a disability seeks help to escape poverty, the only choices presented to them will only keep them IN poverty: referrals to low-wage, insecure work, referrals to jobs that monkeys can be trained to do for peanuts, virtually no assistance to those professionals that attempt to seek self-employment … so many are forced to operate outdated equipment, pay a premium for transportation to get around town (when their communities don’t seem to see a need for transportation outside the private automobile), and continue to ineligible for the kinds of assistance they might need to expand their businesses, such as taking on new staff.

    The OCB Policy is a sham, even for those that do “benefit” (the low-income wage workers), as there is no way any of this will keep up with the upcoming oil and food crisis … the gas company is hoping for a 20% increase for home heating come July 1, 2008, electricity has been increasing by double digits, food has already gone up at least 10% … yet people’s incomes remain virtually the same from one year to the next.

    Many poor people also own their own homes. They do not want to go on the wait list for subsidized housing. Many do not like the idea that any income they earn while in subsidized housing is sharply clawed back in the form of sharp increases in rent … the answer for many of them is not to work, and to stay home. How does that help poverty? People want to own their own home because of security of tenure, and it looks like for many, it will be the only form of retirement they will have.

    Let’s get real. Rising costs require rising incomes, and increased opportunities – not more poverty traps.

    Our first step should be a widespread publicity campaign to inform the public about who is really paying for the Ontario Child Benefit, and how this is not going to help ODSP/ OW families or change their circumstances, except make things logistically harder. For those families that may be reading this, when school starts show up at your MPP’s doorstep with a list of items your child needs and refuse to leave until they provide.

    To me, poverty reduction is poverty reduction. We can’t just throw peanuts at one group at the expense of another. It is a moral question, as well as one of public ethics.

  9. Poverty Reduction changes:
    Changes have already been made. Is this a good one? The restructuring of Social Services is happening wheather we like it or not. The elimination of the Back to School and Winter Clothing allowance will happen. The goal here is for children and families on Social Services are required to plan and save for these items while recieving the Ontario Child Benefit of $50.00 a month per child, lets see how that works when each child needs a winter coat, winter boots, packpack, school items all at once and they have to plan to save for the rest of the kids through out the year, someone won’t be able to eat. Let us hope that the food banks and rent doesnot get paid, dont increase and we now find we need more programs for Back to School or winter coats. The rates are already low. Families will find themselves in further hardship, especially the one lone-parent families where there are 82% of reported on the Poverty Reduction website, and 1 in 5 children live in poverty in Ontario.
    When families ask for help it gets worse. We must learn from our mistakes in order for reductions to happen- The National Child Benefit Clawback. Now if you eliminate these two allowance and give the Entire amount of the Ontario Child Benefit such as the first year you recieved it, now that would work. Thanks, just giving you some insite to highly sensitve matter.

  10. I commend this movement at the Ontario government level, it has to be from the Federal level too. From my experience, it is the public perception regarding the sterotypes about those living on low income that disturbs me most. Will the government undertake a social marketing campaign to help overcome the stigma that is associated with poverty so that changes in the level of support will be well received at election time? Will the government understand that poverty at different ages means different things? If you are a senior living in poverty, you will have medical and social needs that are very different that a young single mother who finds that she cannot make ends meet. There are distinct issues here, young people can be retrained and concrete measures taken to get their life back on track and create hope for their children. An older person will likely need help for their remaining years, we cannot go back in time and change their circumstances. Studies have shown the impact of poverty on health, it creates social liabilites, creating poor health within a public health care system does not make sence. Look at food bank use, poverty is seeping into the fabric of socity. Will the government look at poverty from these various lenes? We have to have an approach that realizes that some members of our society are vulnerable and they need to be provided with a level of income that supports good health and personal dignity. How about the appalling low levels of support for those with disabilities…the most vulnerable of al. Change is need now, not five years from now, start will increasing social assistance rates across the board and ensure that public housing is well maintained and is mandated to work with community organizations who have the heart to help create healthy living spaces and teach life skills to children, that would be a good start until longer term solutions are found. With the price of food and housing continuing to rise, help is needed for many people now, not five years from now. The evidence is clear that change is needed now.

  11. Although the Minister’s foundational principles are a step in the right direction, I think that we need to assess them in light of the Policy Framework:

    OPPORTUNITY
    Opportunity is important for people living on low income and they demonstrate daily that they are very resourceful and take full advantage to improve their situations when opportunities present themselves. However, the Policy Framework points out that serious poverty reduction must provide some “assurances for decent household incomes” based on fair return on employment and adequate social assistance for those unable to work and access affordable housing. These critical upgrades in basic living conditions create the stability necessary for low-income people to take advantage of opportunities.

    PERSON-CENTRED APPROACHES
    The diversity of experience among people living in poverty is acknowledged and reflected in the stories told yesterday by the two Michaels, Bonnie and Norma. There are particular conditions that require attention on supports related to single parenthood, disability, age, immigrant status, etc. However, the common condition of all these groups is the lack of adequate living incomes, barriers to employment and fair return on their work, and decent affordable, secure housing – basic living conditions that every member of society requires.

    ALL MUST BE ENGAGED
    The community has shown its willingness to pull its own weight (e.g. the North Bay RideShare Program – http://www.northbayspc.com) Now we need concerted and focused public policy leadership from senior governments.

    FUND WHAT WORKS
    This is true and important but this approach suggests just shifting current investments to programs that work rather than new investments that will be necessary to reduce poverty. It also suggests a programmatic approach rather than addressing some of the basic structural conditions such as decent incomes and affordable housing and child care.

  12. Hi Ms. Matthews

    I am the least likely candidate for poverty, but despite my best efforts I spend 6 years living on a household income that ranged from 10,000 to 13,000/year. As a single parent of 3 small children at the time, and as a highly educated woman (MSc), I found myself in deep poverty after leaving an abusive husband. Ironically enough, after 8 years of struggling, and after having sustained what I thought was full-time employment, in 2006 I found myself once again in poverty (through no fault of my own). Fortunately, I have been able to secure full-time employment and can now provide for my family. It took me ten years to re-build my life. Similary, my brother who is a PEng, lives in poverty in Alberta after he sustained a devastating stroke in 1997 (at the age of 44). As a single man, he struggles to make ends meet.

    I just wanted to share these two stories as we certainly do not “fit the stereotype”. It is critical that we set targets to address this issue. Most important, we have to stop blaming those who are affected ….I did nothing wrong to warrant what I had to deal with …for that matter, neither did my brother!

    Sincerely,

    Lynn O’Farrell

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