Posts Tagged ‘ ontario works ’

A Poor Peoples Inquiry, KW – Report Back

Poverty Makes Us Sick was pleased to host Put Food In The Budget on December 3rd for the Kitchener stop of A Poor Peoples Inquiry.  Inquiries are happening across the province, bringing folks together for discussion and action to unmask the myth of the Liberals Poverty Reduction Strategy and to address the fraudulent claim that Premier Wynne is the ‘Social Justice’ Premier. 

A PMUS organizer (who was due in real court the next day) participated as a Judge on the Tribunal.  As poor people are criminalized and funneled through the violence and indignity of the injustice system, PMUS accepted the opportunity to toy with the notion of naming as criminal those who generate poverty in Ontario.  Using our creativity is part of the path towards transformative justice.

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                                The Peoples Tribunal, with members of PMUS and PFTB

The packed court room pledged an ongoing commitment to the struggle to end poverty.  Look out for updates and follow up actions from Put Food In The Budget.  We will keep you posted about Wynne’s indictment for perjury.

Poverty Makes Us Sick’s demands remain the same, in concert with our allies in the Raise the Rates Campaign:

– No merger of OW and ODSP

– Autonomy for First Nations administration of social assistance funds

– Immediate increase in social assistance rates of at least 55%, restoring pre-Harris levels with inflation.

– Full restoration of the Special Diet Allowance and Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit

– Immediate increase in minimum wage to at least $14

Poverty Makes Us Sick’s local demands:

– An end to PAVIS policing in our communities and a re-directing of police budget for vital social programs

– Income support for Refugee Claimants filing Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds Requests

– Affordable housing

– An end to the social cleansing policy and practices of police and BIA, in the march of gentrification

– A hault on LRT development until downloaded social assistance programs are funded

– A withdrawal of City Hall demands that the Wine Rack not serve certain people

– A freeze on development incentives such as tax breaks until social services are fully and sustainably funded

 

COMMUNITY START UP AND MAINTAINANCE BENEFIT

The Ontario budget for 2012 calls for the cancellation of the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit and the Home Repairs Benefit (CSUMB).  The cuts are scheduled to take effect in January 2013.

Cutting these vital benefits will ensure that many people are thrown into an endless cycle of poverty, violence, houselessness, isolation and institutionalization.

The cuts will have a devastating impact on the nearly 900,000 people living in Ontario who currently rely on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) for their incomes.  OW and ODSP currently offer despicably low monthly rates, already far below the poverty line.

Most people living on OW and ODSP are renters. CSUMB, sometimes called simply CSU, provides funds of up to $800 once every two years, for people on OW and ODSP to maintain their housing. Essentially, this is a homelessness prevention benefit.  It is also about offering people the necessary economic mobility required to keep themselves, and their children, in safe living conditions.

It helps people pay for things like first and last month’s rent deposits. It helps people buy or replace furniture. It helps people put down deposits on utilities or pay overdue utility bills.  The loss of CSUMB will hurt many people who otherwise cannot afford these expenses. OW and ODSP incomes do not allow any wiggle room for one to save for the costs that the CSUMB currently covers.

People on assistance are already getting free bus tickets from churches to get to the food bank.  No one is saving up first and last month’s rent!!

The people who will be hurt by these cuts include:

women and young people who are fleeing violence where they live or are trying to move from transition shelters into permanent homes after experiencing domestic violence. Denying people access to mobility is nothing short of complicity in gendered violence, which is systemic in our society.

–  people trying to move from shelters into permanent homes.

people transitioning from prison into society.  Without the ability to pay first and last month’s rent, as is mandatory for renters, those who our government has imprisoned will be likely to be re-arrested for issues associated with houselessness such as failing to report to parole or probation officers, living without a fixed address, or being forced to steal food and clothes.

people leaving psychiatric units.  Someone on OW who is forcefully abducted and locked in a Psych Unit might not be allowed or able to submit their monthly report card to OW. Even though there are social workers employed by the hospital who ought to see to this, they never do – ever.  When OW reports aren’t submitted, a recipient is placed on suspension and can lose their coverage through OW.   Certainly in the case of an extended stay a consumer will have little to no financial supports.  Even if they are signed up before they are discharged they will not have enough to pay first and last month’s rent, let alone pay for food and transportation

(new) parents who need to move into a living situation that the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) will not deem unsafe.

people dealing with unhealthy barriers to an adequate quality of life, such as bedbug infestations or mold.

people who cannot afford the rising cost of energy.

Currently, about 16,000 Ontarians rely on these benefits each month.

Municipalities across Ontario are very concerned about the loss of these two benefits, as well as the cap that the 2012 budget puts on discretionary health-related benefits.

We call on housing workers, community legal clinic caseworkers, and others who support people living in poverty on OW and ODSP to act to protect these programs, and to not merely express concern that these cuts will result in more hardship, more desperation, and in fact more homelessness among people on assistance.

On June 4th, seven First Nations communities from the North Shore of Lake Huron held a rally against these cuts held at Queen’s Park.  They have since protested in Sudbury as well.

OCAP is coordinating a province-wide response to these cuts.

Poverty Makes Us Sick is hosting an info night, including a core organizer with OCAP, on Tuesday July 11th at the Queen St. Commons Café in Kitchener from 7-9pm.

Action will follow.

What is the Austerity Agenda & What We Can Do About It

Banner drop at Bylaw Enforcement and Downtown Security  offices at the corner of Ontario-Duke St, Kitchener, April 1, 2011 in response to their role in enforcing gentrification and social cleansing of the downtown community.

Austerity Budgets – budgets that target poor and working people by cutting services, jobs and community supports – have been introduced at both the provincial and federal levels this March.

Again we see the privileging of capital over the needs of the people.  We see increased policing and prisons instead of meaningful supports for health, education, housing and social services.  This is an overt and violent assault on poor and marginalised communities.

We Say ‘No More’.  We oppose policies that target those living in poverty and attempt to pit communities of workers and those on fixed incomes against each other, while ignoring the real architects of this global financial crisis – the corporate capitalist elites.

These capitalist elites continue to amass wealth as governments force painful cuts to necessary programs and services on their populations.  We are coming together to reject this agenda and to find ways to build real community networks of support.

Provincially we have seen the Social Assistance Review Commission (SARC) and the Drummond Report that parrot the ideology of austerity of making recommendations that provide real, meaningful and positive change in the lives of Ontarians.

Instead of recognizing the direct impact of poverty on health and well-being, and taking real steps to reduce health inequities, our governments have chosen once more to punish and criminalize poor people in this province.  While corporations have received massive tax cuts in recent years(maintained in the recent budget), governments are once again balancing their budgets on the backs of the poor!

“People on Ontario Works are now living on incomes that are a devastating 60% lower that they were in 1995 and over 20% lower that when the Harris Tories left office.  Now that wretched sub-poverty income will continue to be driven further by the ‘poverty reduction’ Liberals as the cost of food and other necessities increases significantly.”  Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)

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