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Make poverty an election issue: CDC

BELLEVILLE – Anti-poverty might be an occasional political football, but a Belleville organization is hoping to make it an issue of Grey Cup significance.

A Poverty Free Ontario event, staged by the Community Development Council of Quinte, was the first in a number of upcoming events aimed at pushing poverty concerns to the top of the political agenda for the upcoming provincial election.

Organizers said they were pleased with public support at the gathering, which featured testimonials from residents about their battle with poverty.

The meeting culminated with a keynote speech from by Marvyn Novick, an activist with the Social Planning Network of Ontario, the group behind the Poverty Free Ontario campaign.

“I’m encouraged that there are people here who are committed to working on poverty and believe that we can do something serious about it,” he said.

He said the objective is to ensure that provincial political parties move to address poverty eradication with tangible solutions.

Alexandra Bell, 26, talked about her experience with poverty, which was born out of mounting student debt. Bell recalls going through a cycle of poverty that subjected her to a transient lifestyle. The Belleville resident said the public has the misconception that someone living in poverty can be easily identified.

“I don’t represent the usual face of poverty,” she said.

Bell went from university student to barely making ends meet with the support she received from social assistance. She now has a full-time job, but has to support her household with one income because her partner is currently unemployed.

“The working and invisible poor are very real and we’re in the community,” she said. “With the provincial election coming, now is the time when poverty issues can come to the forefront.”

Ruth Ingersoll, from the CDC, said the next event will be the Sept. 15 showing of a documentary film, Poor No More, at the Empire Theatre and a tentative all candidates meeting for Sept. 21.

She said the campaign will feature a Poverty Free Ontario sign blitz along with the distribution of poverty related information during the campaign.

“Once people have all this knowledge they can go and push the candidates to make changes,” she said.

David Langille, professor at York University, is the executive producer of Poor No More and founding director of the Centre for Social Justice. He will host a panel discussion after the 7 p.m. screening of the film at the Empire Theatre.

The panel will also feature local social welfare officials and admission is “pay what you can” with a suggested $10. Net proceeds will go to Bridging the Gap for Kids.

The Poor No More documentary, hosted by Canadian television and film star Mary Walsh, offers an engaging look at Canadians stuck in low-paying jobs with no security and no future. Walsh heads to Ireland and Sweden to see how those countries have tackled poverty while strengthening their economies.

jmiller@intelligencer.ca

http://www.intelligencer.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3295224

Discussion

2 Responses to “Make poverty an election issue: CDC”

  1. Hopeless Hope is when you are falsely lead to believe that you can work your way out of poverty on min wage and lead to believe that you will get housing supports or other social services.
    What party will see it end ?
    There a many in out area who are robbed of pay and put under stress needlessly. Not no mention underpaid by profitable firms.

    Know of a worker who once worked for a firm that paid the minimum wage. This owner went on to sell the business for a huge profit , this while your tax dollars where spent providing housing assistance and other social supports for the family!
    Some have suggested that increasing wages is the answer , while the answer looks good , look at the price of goods that go up or the hours of work that go down for most workers who see no change.
    So I would suggest this based on the experiences I found from those working in the area.
    We need to think about means testing business ,Perhaps a grace period for those who come and set up , but state how long and at what profit levels we will allow and provide social supports for their workers to help the business build. Voters need to be told how long they will be required to buy goods or services and yet again have to purchase though taxes related social costs for family members or children affected by the forced poverty. This is going on now ,with no costing and little easing of poverty related problems.
    We set up rules to insure tax dollars go to those in need when it comes to poverty , we need to insure that Business that are in our area do not keep those very same workers in need while they profit take at tax payers expense !
    Questions to all Candidates.
    1 Are you or your party pro helping reduce poverty ?
    2 Are you ok with forcing some irresponsible business out of tax payers pockets books by getting their workers off needless social supports. (How)
    3 or are you ok with tax payers subsiding profit take at the expense of workers and their family’s ?(dollar figure and length of time )
    4 What level of profit take is ok with your party while social costs mount for tax payers and hurt the working poor.(comments on theme )
    5 Is it ok for voters to call a business and ask that a worker be paid more in wages to a profitable firm ?

    Posted by Thomas Dowswell | September 13, 2011, 10:53 pm
  2. Just found about this initiative and we will be discussing this issue at our Anti Povery Coalition meeting this evening. Thank you for your efforts
    We do to do more to eliminate poverty in our province. It does cause many stressful situations.

    Posted by Irene Breckon | September 13, 2011, 12:25 pm

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