Kitchener Raise the Rates, October 15 – report back

Kitchener’s main event in the Raise the Rates Province-Wide Week of Action followed on the heels of a confrontation with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and a very successful Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage event.  Our demands were taken to the heart of commerce, consumerism and social cleansing in the Region – Uptown Waterloo.  Beginning at the Regional Health and Social Services Building with a community-positive event, hundreds of leaflets exposing the threatened OW/ODSP merger were distributed while a meal was shared.  PMUS met with OW Case Workers at the staff exit as they left for the day.  The fact that the Union representing ODSP workers, OPSEU, just signed on to the Raise the Rates Campaign served to increase the interest of the CUPE local OW workers.

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A march at rush hour ensured that the elite patrons of Uptown Waterloo would hear the voices of the poor.A militant, in cases masked, faction took a major intersection at 5:10.  Banners, speeches and rap verses announced a new level of struggle opposing a OW/ODSP merger, standing in support of social assistance autonomy for First Nations, demanding the full restoration of CSUMB and Special Diet Allowance, a raise in minimum wage and a 55% increase in Social Assistance rates.  Angry Uptown consumers in vehicles expressed rage, but it could not match the rage of the poor.  Bystanders had a decidedly open minded approach and took flyers and listened to speeches.  One car drove at speed into the crowd but was stopped by a variety of well applied tactics.  The local paper captured a photo of the driver slowly driving into one protester, about to drive over another.

In this day of action we reached out to OW workers –  a natural ally in our struggle.  We have been oppressed by these very people. We are honest in our willingness to partner in the struggle against an OW/ODSP merger.  All of the conflicting feelings we were experiencing were released in a healthy setting later in our event.  If any of the disconnected elite of Waterloo Region hadnt previously known, they know it now: the poor are on the attack.

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