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Poverty campaign comes to Oshawa

DURHAM — With the provincial election on, a coalition of social and religious groups wants to make poverty an issue.

Poverty Free Ontario kicked off its campaign last week in 16 Ontario communities, including Oshawa.

Ted Glover, one of the organizers in Oshawa, said, “It’s sad we have to use the words poverty and Ontario in the same sentence. We’re one of the most wealthy provinces. It’s unconscionable.”

About 1.6 million Ontarians, or 13.1 per cent of the population, live in poverty, he said at the rally, held outside St. George’s Memorial Anglican Church in downtown Oshawa. “Fourteen per cent of children in our rich province live in poverty.”

Recently, the Community Development Council Durham released a study on poverty in the Region and it found as much as 15 per cent of Durham residents live in poverty.

“Gandhi said poverty is the worst form of violence,” Mr. Glover said.

The Social Planning Network of Ontario and the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition are co-sponsoring PFO, with the aim of urging all provincial parties to work towards ending poverty in Ontario in this decade.

The aim of the coalition is “to send that message to politicians” to end poverty, Mr. Glover said.

“We want them to include it their platform legislation. It’s an opportunity to step out of poverty. No one chooses to live in poverty.”

The measure of a society is “how it treats poor people,” Mr. Glover stated.

Poverty rates have been “increasing significantly,” Mr. Glover stated.

The provincial government has a goal of ’25-5′, which means a 25-per cent decrease in rates in five years, he added.

He noted food bank usage has risen 28 per cent, while there’s an increasing need for breakfast programs in schools, saying, “Hungry children don’t learn. They act out.¨

Poverty is “visible, but often it’s invisible,” he said.

Among the measures PFO is pushing are:

– a $100 per month healthy food supplement for all people on social assistance (Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program);

– an increase in minimum wage;

– a housing benefit for poor and marginalized people;

– job creation;

– food and income security;

– provisions for health, education and daycare services;

– safe, affordable and sustainable housing.

“You can have the most beautiful clothing, but what good is it if you don’t have a place to stay?” Mr. Glover said.

“I’d like them to know there is hope,” he said of people living in poverty.

Discussion

One Response to “Poverty campaign comes to Oshawa”

  1. Hello,
    I am a student at Georgian College in Orillia, and we are working on Simcoe County’s Alliance to end homelessness. It is a CPI project for placement. Any information you can provide with recent stats on homelessness, food banks, shelters, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Please email me at the above address. Thank-you,
    Robin

    Posted by Robin Crolly | January 23, 2012, 10:49 am

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