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Bridges wants politicians to put poverty on the agenda

FORT ERIE – It’s an issue that isn’t brought to the discussion table often — but Bridges Community Health Centre (CHC) isn’t letting it slip past the politicians in October’s provincial election.

The community centre , which focuses on promoting health and developing the community, is partnering with Poverty Free Ontario, a non-partisan provincial initiative representing over 20 communities in the province.

The goal of Poverty Free Ontario is to raise awareness of the need to end poverty in communities like Fort Erie, says Rhonda Barron, a health promoter for the CHC.

“Poverty Free Ontario is a pre-election campaign focused on making sure poverty is an election issue.”

Everyone in the community from families, to businesses and faith-based organizations were invited to drop into CHC to pick up signs, buttons and pamphlets for Poverty Free Ontario and to learn more about how to help communities end poverty on Thursday.

Poverty can affect any one at any time, whether young or old and it makes a large impact on a community, says the health promoter.

Barron says the Poverty Free Ontario initiative has been on the radar for a few months now and she wants people to realize that there are many people living in town who deal with poverty on a daily basis, which she says a lot of people are unaware of.

“This issue effects the entire community — poverty knows no boundaries. We want to end poverty because it is a public issue.”

The pamphlet gives statistics which include the latest figures for Ontario which shows a poverty rate of 13 per cent. It is the highest rate in 30 years and it is the fastest growing rate in Canada since the last provincial election in 2007.

Barron says there is a strong link between poverty and health which needs to be addressed — through the provincial election she hopes more people will take notice and ask their provincial candidates about it.

“We’re giving out pamphlets so when a politician knocks on your door and gives you one of his pamphlets, you can give him a pamphlet on poverty.”

Barron says the point of the pamphlets are to begin a discussion with the provincial candidates and ask them what their strategies are to fix the issue.

“We’re urging politicians to put poverty eradication on the agenda and we want people asking the candidates about their poverty eradication plans.”

She says she hopes to see people wearing the 300 buttons and posting the 100 signs promoting Poverty Free Ontario around the community that were given out by CHC.

“For people who are marginalized, or deal with poverty on a daily basis, it is easy to brush their voices under the carpet. Their voices are not often heard very well, which is why advocacy campaigns like this are important.”

For more information about Poverty Free Ontario, or to pick up a copy of the Poverty Free Ontario pamphlet, Barron says to phone the community health centre at 905-871-9135.

By Sarah Ferguson



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