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Archive for September 8th, 2011

PFO Bulletin #6: Getting Poverty Eradication on the Provincial Election Agenda

Poverty Free Ontario is an initiative of the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO).  The objectives of Poverty Free Ontario are:

  1. To make ending poverty a public issue in the 2011 provincial election;
  2. To urge that all political parties commit to a poverty eradication agenda if elected; and
  3. To ensure that all electoral candidates have poverty eradication as part of their platforms and campaigns.

Poverty Free Ontario is a non-partisan initiative. Although the election campaign is only a day old, none of the political parties and very few of the electoral candidates running under party banners have given any indication that a commitment to ending poverty within a reasonable timeframe and with a clear and serious plan is a priority issue in this election. None of the published party platforms give any prominence at all to poverty or its elimination.

While Poverty Free Ontario and the SPNO do not endorse or encourage that Ontarians vote for any particular party or candidates, we do urge Ontarians to question all electoral candidates on their commitment to ending poverty and to make their own individual choices about which candidates and political parties they believe will act to end poverty in this province.

That is why the Poverty Free Ontario campaign is getting its message – “Let’s Vote for a Poverty Free Ontario” – up in signs posted on the properties of supportive individuals and organizations in 16 communities across the province.  The faith community, recognizing the moral and ethical issues of letting 1,689,000 Ontarians live in poverty, is taking some leadership in getting this message in front of the public in many of these communities: www.faithtoendpoverty.ca.

Elections are critical times for citizens to exercise the democratic option of choosing who will govern them. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the democratic process of debate, discussion and voting. SPNO, a non-profit network of 20 community-based social and community development councils across Ontario, is proud to participate in this democratic process in a non-partisan way through the Poverty Free Ontario initiative.

For further information contact:

Peter Clutterbuck, SPNO Coordinator
(416) 653-7947   cell (416) 738-3228
Web site: www.povertyfreeontario.ca

Support growing for Faith to End Poverty

WELLAND — Do you want to help make poverty a high-profile issue in the Oct. 6 provincial election? If so, sign on to a campaign being launched next week.

Two groups, the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) and Poverty Free Ontario, are the movers behind a poverty-free Ontario campaign, Faith to End Poverty, that is attracting considerable support in communities across the province.

Its rallying cry, Let’s Vote for a Poverty Free Ontario, is the message on signs that will start springing up on lawn signs starting Thursday, Sept. 15.

Rev. Jim Mulligan, pastor of St. Kevin’s parish, Welland, said the initiative does not target one political party over another. He describes it as “non-partisan” because all three parties in the legislature and their leaders supported the Poverty Reduction Act, whose intent was to make Ontario poverty free.

St. Kevin’s, 303 Niagara St., is one of two sites in Welland riding that will be distributing the campaign signs next week. The other is Bridges Community Health Centre,177 King St., Port Colborne.

The Let’s Vote for a Poverty Free Ontario signs, as well as campaign buttons, will be available at both locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A sign campaign, it is hoped, will help make poverty a more visible issue during the campaign, Mulligan said in an interview.

But its organizers also want supporters to “grill” candidates who come to their doorsteps and in other face-to-face opportunities about their and their party’s views and plans for ending poverty in Ontario, Mulligan said.

Mulligan knows first hand the toll poverty is taking on people in the Welland area. His parish has a food bank that is struggling with an increased caseload and growing demand on its resources. His parishioners are generous in their support, he said, but it is becoming the norm to issue special requests for various non-perishable foods because supplies run out quickly.

In tandem with the sign campaign, a prayer vigil, ecumenical in nature, is being held at St. Kevin’s Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Mulligan said Bishop Gerard Bergie of St. Catharines diocese will preside at the service, with Rev. Chris Fickling of Central United Church, Welland, sharing a homily reflection. Fickling, a member of The Tribune’s community editorial board, authored an eloquent column with poverty as its theme, This is what poverty felt like (July 7). Mulligan said Fickling’s homily is sure to be “moving and challenging.”

Lori Kleinsmith of Bridges Community Health Centre said that while there are many important issues in the provincial campaign, “one that is of urgent concern is poverty.”

She said 1.7 million people in Ontario live in poverty.

“Only a few years ago, many of these people never imagined that they would be unemployed, losing their homes, applying for social assistance and visiting food banks. Our shrinking social safety net, along with the recession, has created many poverty traps,” she said.

Media conferences will be held simultaneously in many communities across Ontario the morning of Sept. 15 to launch the election-style sign blitz.

By JOE BARKOVICH/Tribune Staff


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