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Social councils fighting to eradicate poverty

CORNWALL – Social development councils throughout Ontario are taking a stand against poverty and are trying to encourage governments to take steps to eradicate it.

The Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area in partnership with the Social Planning Network of Ontario and other social councils throughout the province are joining forces to fight against poverty.

Marvyn Novick, consultant with the Social Planning Network of Ontario and Peter Clutterbuck, Research & Community Planning Coordinator with the Social Planning Network of Ontario presented their statistics and plans for the eradication of poverty at St. Paul’s United Church on Monday.

” We believe that there are real policy approaches that could be taken that would move beyond just poverty reduction strategies for children and families, which is a start, to actually eliminate poverty in general, especially those in deep poverty and the working poor,” said Clutterbuck.

The evening began with Michelle Gratton, executive director of the Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area who explained some stories of local people who are living on the streets in what’s called, “deep poverty”.

She told the room of a man who was kicked out of his home and was living in the Sears parking lot and a women who finally got her electricity back after not having it for two months.

“Our poverty rates are high right now,” said Gratton.

“We’ll probably be looking at a very serious situation when the census comes out this summer.”

The night proceeded with an explanation of what the Social Planning Network of Ontario is and who it’s made up of.

The presentation included information about poverty, covering what it is to be poor and the steps that are (not) being made to reduce or eradicate poverty.

“Our agenda is to come into communities present with them an analysis to what the situation is like here in Ontario and make some proposals for priorities for the next (provincial) election to engage their electoral candidates around,” said Clutterbuck.

Novick explained that many people in Canada are living under the poverty line when it comes to having an annual income.

According to his presentation, the poverty line for an average single adult per year is $18,582 a year (after taxes) while the average person on Ontario Works(OW) makes about $7,352 a year.

He suggested that the Government should raise the income that people on OW makes but they won’t because of a dogma or stigma that those who need the system are “begging for handouts” and/or don’t wish to work.

“We have to stop using demeaning language and stop referring to Social Assistance as a social and economical ghetto or broken system,” said Novick.

“It’s not a broken system, it’s a degraded system.”

The evening concluded with a poem, written by someone from Sudbury who was experiencing poverty for themselves and then a question and suggestion period was held.

“It’s important for people to come out to meetings like this in the spring of 2011 to start to think about what they expect of their election candidates in the Provincial election for October and to recognize that poverty is an issue for all Ontarians whether you’re low income or not,” said Clutterbuck.



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