PFIB Strategy Cross-Community Session
The Green Barn in Toronto
April 27, 2009
Cross-Community PFIB Leadership Gathering
On Monday, April 27 On Monday, April 27, almost 40 people from ten communities across Ontario came together to reflect on progress with the promotion of a $100 a month Healthy Food Supplement for adults on social assistance and to plan the next stage of the Put Food in the Budget campaign.
Winning the Healthy Food Supplement
Asked what it will take to win the Healthy Food Supplement, participants offered the following:
- Our firm and resolute belief that we can win it.
- Our conviction that the public will respond positively to a case grounded in health and human rights.
- Our ability to explain the Healthy Food Supplement and to defend it against nay-sayers with facts, answers to questions, and compelling argument.
- Our support for people on social assistance to tell their stories and effective communication of these stories and the PFIB objectives in public forums and through the media in local communities across the province.
- Our engagement of new voices not traditionally mobilized in social justice efforts to support publicly as individuals and organizations the $100 a month Healthy Food Supplement.
- Our clear demonstration to community groups and our political representatives through Do the Math that current social assistance incomes do not meet the monthly basic living needs of recipients.
- Our insistence that the introduction of the Healthy Food Supplement is a pre-requisite to any serious review of the social assistance system initiated by the Government.
- Our preparedness to charge the Government with willful neglect of the health and well-being and denial of a fundamental human right to food for more than half a million Ontarians should it resist the appeals for the Healthy Food Supplement.
Do the Math: An On-Line Tool
The participants in the PFIB strategy meeting were led through a demonstration of “Do the Math”, prepared by The Stop Community Food Centre as an on-line tool to educate people about the costs of basic necessities and to compare the amount of money people get on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program with their monthly living requirements.
Participants offered good feedback and advice, which the Stop has used to develop the final version of Do the Math, now available at dothemath.thestop.org
Participants in the April 27 session discussed important t elements of the next stage of the strategy to Put Food in the Budget including:
- Maintaining and building on the support and leadership of public health departments and Medical Officers of Health across the province through our partnership with alPHa.
- Supporting people with lived experience to take an active leadership role in the PFIB campaign, especially facilitating their ability to tell their stories and express the importance of the HFS to their health and well-being (nine people with lived experience participated in the April 27 session, from four outside Toronto).
- Documenting the results and discussion when community groups and MPPs Do the Math and reporting out on the SPNO’s Poverty Watch Ontario web site page on the PFIB
- Getting a number of community groups to Do the Math and use this as the basis for approaching local MPPs to also Do the Math and to comment publicly on their conclusions after the exercise – how many will express their support for the HFS after they Do the Math? (e.g. work with health promoters at community health centres to reach groups with Do the Math; connect with church groups who have hundreds of volunteers involved in food programs).
- Staging the campaign will make it manageable and also allow us to assess our progress periodically:
- first round of ten communities or so for the May-June period to get community groups and local MPPs to Do the Math;
- assess results of first round at the end of June (community response, MPP response) – perhaps at another large event or on a regional basis, where PFIB campaign leadership may be more able to gather easily.
- second round of communities between August and October
- consolidate results for release during Thanksgiving week and/or other significant food-related days of other faiths.
- assess progress towards wining the HFS
- Promoting the PFIB campaign with the local media – e.g. media interest in groups and MPP that Do the Math.
- Developing an Organizer’s Guide and additional resource material (e.g. FAQs) to help local communities undertake the PFIB campaign activities.
Summary of Next Steps on PFIB Campaign
- The SPNO and The Stop will coordinate the PFIB campaign.
- The Stop will take the input provided on April 27 and develop the final version of the on-line version of Do the Math and additional resource materials.
- Participants will return to their communities and form local teams to lead the PFIB campaign locally/regionally.
- SPNO will work with local teams in ten selected communities on the campaign in May-June.
- PFIB participants will assess the progress of the campaign and discuss adjustments at the end of June either regionally or at another full meeting (dependent on resources available to bring people together).