Posts Tagged ‘ ontario ’

Action Demanding Restoration of the Special Diet Allowance Marks Day One of Dr Wong Suspension

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February 5th marked the first day of the suspension of Dr Wong’s medical licence – an act taken by The College of Physicians and Surgeons in complicity with the Ontario Liberals attack on vital benefits for the poor.  While a rally in solidarity with Dr Wong raged on in Toronto, Poverty Makes Us Sick organizers worked closely with allies in Ottawa to respond locally.  We are thrilled to have worked with such strong organizers for our first event in Ottawa. 

Despite a controlled entry system (staff employed a visual assessment of those knocking to determine eligibility to enter) we gained entry to constituency office of Ottawa Center Liberal MPP, Yasir Naqvi.  The disruption to ‘business as usual’ was sublime, the police response bloated and the demands clear:  Fully Restore the Special Diet Allowance, stop all attempts to intimidate Dr Wong and other MD’s! Raise the Rates!  Access to Healthy Food for All!

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A CBC camera person arrived and was ejected from the office.  At this time police were called.  We withdraw from the office on our own accord, before police arrived, to address the media. 

Following our action the Minister of Labour himself, Mr. Yasir Naqvi, tweeted to us that “I’m always here to discuss issues respectfully. Don’t agree w your illegal trespass & jeopardizing health/safety of community staff.”  And with those ignorant, slanderous words he became far more interesting to PMUS. Our demand is for action not empty discussion and it would not be suitable for anyone to respect someone who is involved in a murderous assault on the poor. Moreover, Naqvi’s office has controlled access requiring us to be buzzed in and the Liberal’s constituency office workers have clearly been instructed to construe distress in a sad attempt to discredit the resistance to the Liberal’s assault on the poor (evidence of this can be found elsewhere on this blog). But, by far the most belligerent aspect of Naqvis’s tweet is his suggestion that his staff’s health and safety was jeopardized by our presence. The Ontario Liberals’ vile policies are a major health/safety concern for the poor in Ontario.  A matter of life and death, not feigned discomfort.  His appropriation of these devastating realities is obscene.

Clearly we will cross paths with Naqvi again shortly. In the meantime, the following statement, with elements adapted from OCAP’s literature, was read in Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi’s office today:

Attack on accessibility to Special Diet Allowance & the suspension of Dr. Roland Wong

We are here today to stand in solidarity with Dr. Roland Wong who is being punished for the ‘crime’ of helping poor people access healthy food for themselves and their families.  The 6-month suspension of Dr. Wong’s medical licence came into effect this morning.  We are here in solidarity with poor people across this province who continue to fight against the austerity agenda of this government. 

We are here to express our outrage at the decision of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to punish Dr. Wong, a Toronto physician, for helping his patients living in the deep poverty of OW and ODSP, obtain the Special Diet Allowance.   This afternoon in Toronto, poor people and their allies are joining the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty in a rally at the College offices to demand the immediate lifting of Dr. Wong’s suspension.  And we are here, in the office of a Liberal cabinet minister, to express our condemnation of the government’s role in bringing about this act of retribution against resistance to its policies of exclusion and marginalization and our refusal to accept the intimidation of our allies in this fight.

We know that the this Liberal government was thrown into a panic and a rage when they saw that a doctor was taking active steps to reduce poverty in the face of this government’s wilful neglect.  The Ministry of Community and Social Services filed complaints to the Ministry of Health, the OPP, and finally the College, the body that regulates doctors in Ontario, and a full-scale attack on Dr. Wong was set in motion. This government, in partnership with the College, is clearly working to intimidate others who might follow his example and act in the best interests of their patients who live in poverty.   We show our gratitude, respect and solidarity with him in the face of this despicable attack.

All medical evidence shows that low income is the greatest single threat to someone’s health. If doctors and other medical providers are serious about health, they must be advocates and act to address and offset the symptoms of poverty, the single most health-compromising issue we face. It’s deplorable to see a government bullying those addressing health issues through their very institutions, and for the College to intimidate a member of the organisation they supposedly ‘represent’.

Under this Liberal government, the Special Diet program was gutted.  Only through enormous public pressure was a version of it maintained, although a ghost of its former self.  Many people who had relied on this vital supplement have been cut off and people living in deep poverty are again forced to choose between rent and the healthy food they need to maintain their basic well-being.  Instead of recognizing the social and financial logic of this investment in health promotion, your government chose to file a complaint and have a key provincial anti-poverty advocate, investigated for medical fraud when he tried to protect poor Ontarians from your neglect and get them access to the healthy food that is preventative medicine.  Today, the suspension of Dr. Roland Wong’s licence to practice medicine in Ontario will begin.  He is also burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs and penalties.  This is unacceptable, and we call for the immediate restoration of Dr. Wong’s license and the cancelation of all fines and penalties launched against him.

During the years the Liberals have been in office, the number of people working for the sub poverty minimum wage has doubled and this simply could not have been achieved without driving down the adequacy of social assistance.  Under the so-called ‘Social Justice Premier’, the recent decision to bump the minimum wage to $11, forcing full-time workers to live 16% below the poverty line, demonstrated once again the cynical approach to poverty reduction of this government.

Ottawa is now the third most unaffordable city to live in, in Canada.  With escalating rents, massive condo development, and the gentrification of our community spaces, more and more of our neighbours and friends find themselves on an eight year long wait list for affordable housing.  Thousands of people in our community are forced to choose between paying rent and eating.  We demand the province provide an immediate increase to assistance rates to reflect the real cost of housing utilities and food in Ontario communities.

While talking about ‘poverty reduction’, this government has relentlessly worked to stop anything that impedes the further impoverishment of people on social assistance.   This is a clear component of the war on the poor, and more specifically a direct assault on accessibility to food for poor and working poor folks living in Ontario.  As organizers, we have met with politicians, including two Ministers of Community and Social Services.  We have heard Liberal members express their commitment to ending poverty and to improving the lives of poor people in this province.  We have watched endless consultations, endless discussion, endless delaying tactics. We say enough. We are not fooled by the fancy rhetoric.  Your government have demonstrated since you took power that addressing poverty is simply not a priority. You can only use the ghost of the Harris era so long before it sounds hollow – we are way past that time.

The fact is, that under your government’s leadership, poor people are falling further and further behind – now requiring an increase of almost 60% to regain the losses made during the Harris regime (over 20% lost since your government’s tenure began).   Well, Yasir, as the saying goes, you can’t get blood from a stone – and these policies indeed have blood on them. 

This is but one of many upcoming actions that will aim to target all those complicit in the government’s attack on poor communities across the province.  It is time to live up to the reputation that you claim and become a real champion for poor Ontarians.  We look forward to seeing you step up but we’re not going to wait.  This is a time for action – since the government refuses to act …. the people are mobilizing.

Our minimum demands remain those of the Raise the Rates Campaign: 

WE DEMAND an immediate increase in OW and ODSP rates to bring them back to pre-Harris levels. 55% NOW– raise the rates to where people can live with health and dignity!

WE DEMAND that the minimum wage be increased to a living wage for everyone in Ontario, tied to inflation, beginning with an immediate increase to $14.

WE DEMAND the full restoration of the Special Diet to a benefit of up to $250 for food and complete reversal of all intrusive measures AND the full restoration of the Community Start-up And Maintenance Benefit as a provincially run program.   

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For more info on the need for access to healthy food for all see: http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/publication/poverty_is_making_us_sick__a_comprehensive_survey_of_income_and_health_in_canada/

For more info on Dr Wong and today’s partnered rally in Toronto see: http://www.ocap.ca/node/1132

Follow us on Twitter: @kwpmus

 

Raise the Minimum Wage – December 14th report back, KW

December 14th, 2013: The fifth consecutive monthly province-wide day of action action (held on the 14th of every month to win fair wages) saw another successful mobilization in Waterloo Region.  The local efforts have received overwhelmingly positive support from the community and this event was no different.

In an event organized by Poverty Makes Us Sick and Waterloo Labour Council, with the strong support of Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance, activists dressed as elves and distributed campaign fliers attached to candy-canes to happy holiday consumers at Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener.  Some shoppers also took time to write holiday cards to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking for economic justice in the new year.  Again this month, we were greeted warmly by an informed public. Waterloo Region is making itself clear and calling for Fair Wages Now!

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Worker-Elves withstood the cold and snow to greet the people and promote Fair Wages. Hundreds of candy-canes, fliers and postcards were distributed to receptive and supportive shoppers at Kitchener’s busy Fairview Mall.  With the Harper Regime claiming the North Pole as its territory, its more important than ever that workers in Ontario stand in solidarity with Santa’s workshop employees.

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See a round-up of the 18+ events held across Ontario on December 14th, here.

Kitchener-Waterloo has been active in the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage since its public launch on March 21 and has held monthly actions on the 14th of every month, as part of province-wide days of action beginning in August.  On September 24th Poverty Makes Us Sick hosted a presentation by Toronto’s Workers Action Centre on the campaign which brought together community members, grassroots, labour and social organizations to build a sustainable local mobilization to win fair wages.  Waterloo Region continues to grow a strong network.  We are part of a vibrant province wide campaign that is poised to win Fair Wages Now!  We encourage everyone to join in!

To get involved with this vital campaign in KW, contact Poverty Makes Us Sick:
forspecialdiet@gmail.com

Learn about the Province-wide campaign, here.

Send a Tweet, email or Facebook message to Premier Wynne right now!

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

 

Poor Peoples Inquiry, Waterloo Region – with Put Food In The Budget

Poor People’s Inquiry Waterloo Region
Testify about the impact of Wynne Liberals’ policies on poor people and allies
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013; 7-9pm
Queen Street Commons, 43 Queen St S (Kitchener)
 

Accessibility: no purchase necessary, light refreshments, kid and baby friendly, wheelchair accessible, one single-occupancy washroom, vegan and gluten free options for sale at cafe,

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!  Come and share your testimony about the impact of changes to the provincial Liberals’ policies for poor people – do the changes introduced to social assistance by Premier Wynne put food in budget of people who are poor in Ontario?

In the first week of December — the fifth anniversary of the Liberal government’s five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy — hearings will be held in communities across Ontario. At each community hearing, a panel of people who are poor will preside. Evidence gathered will be collected into an Official Record of Evidence.

Is Premier Wynne guilty of perjury given her claim to be the ‘Social Justice Premier’?  Is the government guilty of indictable offences in their war on poor people in Ontario?
 
Who can testify?  Poor people, allies, anyone with a commitment to social and economic justice or even ‘civic responsibility’.  Poverty Makes Us Sick wants you!!!  Get in touch to sign up or just show up to share!
 
Part of a provincial campaign launched by Put Food in the Budget (Toronto), and hosted locally by Poverty Makes Us Sick
 
Contact us:
Facebook:  PovertyMakesUsSick!

putfoodinthebudget.ca

Ashley Smith Vigil 2013: To Remember is to Resist

Candlelight Vigil Marking 6th Anniversary of Ashely Smiths Death

October 20th; 8pm
Speakers Corner (King and Benton) Downtown Kitchener

Presented by We Remember Ashley Smith

To Remember is to Resist

Ashley Smith died at the age of 19 in Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institution for Women on October 19th, 2007.  Deemed to be suffering ‘poor mental health’, in isolation and on suicide watch, Ashley tied a ligature around her neck and asphyxiated to death as seven guards, who were ordered not to intervene, watched.

Ashley practiced a number of self-harming behaviours including what she called “tieing-up”.
These practices were well-documented and Ashley repeatedly told her psychiatrist that she sought human interaction through her self harming – it would draw guards into her cell.  She assured staff that she didn’t want to die and said to her psychiatrist that she knew the guards wouldn’t let anything happen to her – they were thought of as friends.
 

We come together each passing year to hold on to the memory of Ashley Smith.

A Coroner’s Inquest is currently in its final stages.  The Smith family lawyer has called the proceedings a “pure and simple State cover-up” and more recently the Warden at Grand Valley at the time of Ashley’s arrival showed up to give testimony with a doctor’s note that said the she could not endure cross-examination.  What we already know is made painfully clear through these sad proceedings: the prison system is designed to silence, disappear and murder while offering impunity to those who willfully take on the wretched task of imprisonment.

The media dubs Ashley Smith a ‘Troubled Teen”. Ashley Smith was a Tortured Teen.  Her torture was funded by our tax dollars and was carried out in a system that we allow to exist.  We would all be troubled if we endured what Ashley endured in the prison system. Prior to this torture Ashley was a caring and insightful young person who was drawn to social justice work.
 

Ashley was first imprisoned at the age of 13 on a charge that she threw a crab apple at a mail-carrier.  Ashley’s neighbours were receiving their Social Assistance cheques late and Ashley (informed by others) was suspicious that the mail carrier was withholding the needed funds.  Ashley took direct action and fought for the needs of the poor.  Ashley’s tactic and analysis is a forerunner to the needs of our current struggle against austerity.  It is not enough to protest MPPs because they are no longer decision-makers in this global age of austerity.  We need to oppose with the strongest of means any power that seeks to push the poor further towards hopelessness, isolation, imprisonment, violence and death.

We Remember Ashley Smith

forspecialdiet@gmail.com

Raise the Minimum Wage: a look at where our food comes from – October 14

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Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage event Launches Raise the Rates Week Of Action in Kitchener!

Hundreds attended a community meal infront of Kitchener City Hall as part of the monthly Province-wide day of action demanding an immediate increase in minimum wage, from $10.25 to $14/hr.

PMUS partnered with Waterloo Region Labour Council (WRLC) and Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance (KOALA) to offer an opportunity to break bread together and reflect on this months theme: A look at who’s putting food on our tables.  Speeches highlighted that the folks bringing us our food are receiving poverty wages.  From Migrant Workers in the agriculture sector through wait staff at restaurants, many are infact earning below minimum wage and are denied pay for over time hours. This injustice was spoken to passionately by Dianne Hartman of KOALA, who’s intersectional analysis calls for total liberation and justice.  Marc Xuereb, President of WRLC brought greetings and the SPOT collective took on a range of tasks to make this event awesome!

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Dianne Hartman speaks on behalf of KOALA

Tempeh and hotdogs were enjoyed while children played with $14 Now balloons.  It was a wonderfully uplifitng event with an amazing community response.  100’s of postcards, addressed to Premier Wynne, were signed and media came calling from Stratford and Kitchener. Our message was heard loud and clear:  Fair Wages Now!

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Together we can win a victory of an immediate increase in Minimum Wage to $14/hr.  We must continue to fight daily for Migrant Workers and others being exploited by this unjust system.  Who’s putting food on your table?  They deserve a raise!

For more info, to sign a petition and to use social media to win an increase, see: raisetheminimumwage.ca

Check back for more pictures from this and other events from this week of action!

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