Social Assistance Reform coalition (ISARC)
REDUCTION IN QUEBEC & NOW
Religious Leaders’ Forum at Queen’s Park, Ian Renaud-Lauze inspired
the 110 participants through his reflections on the struggle of
Collectif pour un Quebec sans Pauvrete to eliminate poverty in Quebec.
Minister Deb Matthews’ comments after lunch provided ample evidence
that the struggle to reduce poverty in
will be difficult. Minister Matthews used the same speech for
ISARC as she did for “25 in 5” two days earlier. Her
solutions, based on reducing child poverty by teaching children to read,
made some ISARC participants angry; there was no acknowledgement of
individual adults in poverty, nor the lack of money and resources coming
from the province to help regions. Matthews is the Minister
for Children and Youth and is chairperson and minister appointed to
poverty reduction strategy to cabinet by the end of 2008.
Questions from forum participants about the government’s allocating of
the federal affordable housing dollars was later debated during Question
Collectif was a movement to put the elimination of poverty on the public
agenda, and the government passed the law to eliminate poverty.
Today, Collectif leaders are working hard to keep the
government moving forward under Premier Jean Charest.
Panellists in the afternoon were from
, Niagara, Peel, and
. Regions are working on poverty reduction through regional social
services, advocacy coalitions, and groups of individuals on OW and ODSP.
Rabbi Shalom Schachter’s theological reflection inspired participants
not to accept a partial solution to poverty reduction. The faith
communities have a moral and ethical ground on which they must stand as
they are compassionate but call for justice. Schachter’s
reflection will be on the ISARC web site. www.isarc.ca
Our Fall Religious Leaders’ Forum is being planned for the first week
of November – two weeks before the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy
goes to cabinet. In addition to reports on the work of
communities to advocate for the elimination of poverty, the forum will
focus on the needs and rights of persons with disabilities.
“25 in 5” – An important call
Coalitions and organizations throughout the province are joining
the “25 in 5” to build a public consensus and a movement that calls
of the elimination of poverty. “25 in 5” means a 25%
reduction in poverty within 5 years. ISARC has joined 25
in 5 along with Campaign 2000, Income Security Alliance, Daily Bread
City of Toronto
Coalition for Social Justice, affordable housing coalitions, Ontario
Federation of Labour, nurses, teachers, and others. 25 in 5 is
asking that the province name indicators, such as :
25% reduction in the tenants
who pay more than 50% of their income in rent,
A 25% increase in income for
recipients of OW and ODSP,
Increase in income for workers
on low wages, to support themselves & family
25% more children in registered
child care spaces.
Governments and non-profit organizations already collect data for
these indicators and can report whether goals have been reached.
The primary areas needing to be affected by the poverty reduction
Employment, income security, and community services which includes
affordable housing and child care.
Check the “25 in 5” web site for details. www.25in5.ca
Social Planning Network of
and Peter Clutterbuck of SPNP have conducted consultations throughout
to obtain a consensus on the means to reduce poverty. A
consultation with other advocacy coalitions was held in
on 7 & 8 May 2008. Minister Matthews attended on Thursday
afternoon. The strategy & background are at www.povertywatchontario.ca
ISARC supports this strategy which calls for
Appropriate labour standards and increased enforcement especially for
contract, temporary, and part time work as well as regulations &
supervision of temporary employment agencies;
social assistance for OW and ODSP; since 1995, OW recipients have 43%
less purchasing power; ODSP 18% less. Full time workers should be
able to support themselves, having enough for rent, food, and other
essentials for the family
community infra-structure, particularly affordable housing and child
The consultation with Minister Matthews went very well and was
encouraging to the participants. She understood the components of
the SPNO poverty reduction strategy and asked questions to gain a deeper
Your Voice and Work Are Needed!
May and June 2008, Minister Deb Matthews will be conducting
consultations with groups throughout the province. These hearings
have not been announced in advance and are by invitation.
Local MPPs decide with the minister’s office who is invited. If
a consultation is to be conducted in your city, contact your local
Liberal MPP and ask to be included. Then check the web site below
to think about the 6 questions. The questions relate primarily to
child poverty ignoring many adults who receive OW or ODSP. All
children have parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents and other adults in
their lives. How might this poverty reduction strategy create
better villages where all can raise the children in a healthy and
Government Poverty Reduction Strategy is www.growingstronger.ca/en/tackle_poverty.html
Second: Each Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) is
to hold a consultation on poverty reduction in their riding.
Attendance will be important, so MPPs can see the ground swell on this
issue. Speakers hopefully can address the important issues:
employment and labour standards, income security, housing & child
Call your MPP and ask when the riding consultation will be held.
If no date has been set, you may ask whether coalitions or organizations
in your area can assist in planning and facilitation. MPPs need to
listen and reflect; another person should be facilitator; also ask
people to take minutes which you can submit to the province. Then
work with many groups to set a date which is suitable for the MPP and
send out the message to people, organizations and media. Invite
community leaders to come together before the consultation to review the
Social Planning Network of Ontario and “25 in 5” statements and
agree who can speak to specific issues. Are there some individuals
who speak out of the experience of poverty? Public consultations
need to be open to all residents. If there is more than one
consultation in your riding, it shows how important poverty reduction
Third: Coalitions working with “25 in 5” are
concerned that cabinet ministers and other prominent MPPs hear how
important poverty reduction is to residents of their riding. If
you live in one of these ridings, it will be important that you, your
congregation, and coalitions demonstrate the high priority of poverty
Fourth: Your faith community can have a hearing and
assist members to write letters to the MPPs and Premier
McGuinty. Use information in this newsletter, the web sites, and
ISARC’s book Lives Still in the Balance. Your
congregation may wish use the book as an adult study, since poverty
reduction should be a major issue in the next federal election.
As we move into a recession, many feel poverty reduction will move to a
secondary priority. Affordable housing, increases to OW and ODSP,
child care, and increases for low wage workers fight recession because
the money remains in the local economy, which means that dollars
circulate. For example, a dollar spent on savings or investment
does not circulate as many times as a dollar spent on groceries,
clothing, furniture, housing, child care or transportation.
Individuals and families spend dollars locally increasing the local
economy and decreasing recession.
It’s time to build a Movement!
Schachter pushed ISARC to continue to speak to the moral and ethical
issues that arise ISARC’s constituents are compassionate and do not
want marginalized people to suffer, so we have supported food banks,
soup kitchens and emergency shelter. Unfortunately these temporary
measures have not broken the cycle of poverty and have diminished
individual’s dignity. Therefore, we continue to cry for JUSTICE.
A province and government are not judged by how they appease the
affluent. They are judged by how the care for the marginalized.
desperately needs a well-funded poverty reduction strategy this year!
ISARC increasing as a multifaith coalition
faith groups are joining ISARC; more are interested. This fall
ISARC is planning a forum to discuss social justice and systemic poverty
from perspectives and theologies of different religions.
Watch our web site for more information www.isarc.ca
Susan Eagle is
ISARC chairperson; Brice Balmer is secretary. You may contact
Brice Balmer, ISARC Secretary
120 Ottawa Street North
A society (and government) is judged not by how it
treats the rich and powerful,
But by how it treats the marginalized and the poor!
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