Posts Tagged ‘ Poverty in Ontario ’

PMUS on Line 9

February 21, 2014:  NEB Line 9 hearings report; Not Worth The Risk, released in KW. The report, compiled by Rising Tide Toronto and Toronto West End Against Line 9, showcases a staggering range of injustices associated with Enbridge’s Tar Sand proposal for Line 9. Poverty Makes Us Sick member Mark Corbiere presented a statement speaking to issues of poverty brought forward in the report. Thank you to our friends and allies at Waterloo Region Against Line 9 and Grand River Indigenous Solidarity for inviting us to speak at the press conference for the KW launch of this important report.  See link below for more details and to read the report.

Poverty Makes Us Sick’s statement:

Poverty Makes Us Sick is pleased to offer our voice to highlight the release of this important report.  We thank Waterloo Region Against Line 9 for inviting us and offer our support to all those fighting against this dangerous venture.

Moreover, as an organization struggling for justice against the exploits of capitalism and colonialism, we know that this struggle is our struggle.  Within this well cited and widely endorsed report we can see clearly the intersections of our work.

Our organization’s name, Poverty Makes Us Sick, is a reference to the fact that poverty is the number one social determinant of poor health.  We see in this report that the reversal of Line 9, pumping dilbit, is perhaps the number one commercial determinant of poor health – one that affects the land and all living things.

The risks posed to the watershed and to agriculture are great.  This project threatens our ability to produce healthy foods and have a safe habitat for ourselves and other life.  Poor people are already barred access to such things and this proposal seeks to escalate that denial of access while casting the net to include all non-elites of the area. 

The dangers of this pipeline will have a disproportionate impact on First Peoples. As the report shows us, Line 9 passes within 50 km of 18 First Nation communities, and impacts the watersheds of several more.  First Peoples also experience poverty at higher rates than the wider population. The deadly practices of capitalism and colonialism are left exposed by this report.

So, what are the promises of the proposal for Line 9?  Jobs?  The report brings forward a quote from Mike Harris piece in the Financial Post suggesting, “Ontario will gain 3,250 person years of direct and indirect employment, and Quebec will gain 1,969 person-years [over three decades].” The report then points out that this calculation amounts to merely 200 jobs a year in Ontario. Mike Harris is no friend of the worker, the poor or First Peoples.  We cannot take his word:  he is the one who gutted social assistance in 1995, leaving many more to suffer in deeper and deeper poverty.  Mike Harris conspired in Ipperwash and played no small role in the murder of Dudley George.  If he says ‘as low as 200 jobs’, it might mean more like 50.

Not only is there little guarantee of any significant employment stemming from this project but, in fact, it is likely to be a huge burden on taxpayers in Ontario, with the province on the hook to pay for large parts of any clean up efforts and healthcare costs associated with a leak or other disaster.  The Ontario Liberals have, since taking power, continued scrapping and gutting needed benefits for the poor in Ontario.  Social assistance rates remain woefully inadequate.  As active members of the provincial Raise the Rates campaign, we demand an immediate increase of 55%.  Instead of keeping all Ontarians healthy, the Ontario Liberals would rather offer taxpayer dollars as subsidies for wealthy industries to commit ecocide.

Finally, we will close our statement by speaking to the tar sands contribution to climate change.  Climate change has lead to a whole new type of refugee – the climate refugee.  Though not recognized by the Harper government, this reality is but another example of how marginalized and overwhelmingly racialized people are disproportionately affected by the devastation of the energy industry. Climate refugees are threatened with deep poverty as displaced peoples.

Whether through ecocide or direct attacks on the poor, Poverty Makes Us Sick opposes the deadly exploits of our current, unsustainable, economic order.

See the KW press release and link to the National Energy Board Line 9 Hearing Report; Not Worth The Risk, here

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Crash the Consultations, Kitchener Report Back

 

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The Ontario Liberals, with their ‘social justice’ Premiere and and so-called Poverty Reduction Plan, have in reality cut vital programs such as the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit and Special Diet Allowance.  Poverty rates have increased under their leadership.  Now they threaten to merge OW and ODSP, a move that would drastically reduce access to programs and services.  As the Liberals embark on yet another round of Poverty Reduction Community Consultations many have decided that enough is enough: we need to see action to end poverty not more empty talk.  Our Allies across the Province have held Crash the Consultations events also and we are pleased that a number of local agencies have boycotted this obvious stalling tactic – some vocally opposing the sham.

Despite the rain and early morning hour, eight Poverty Makes Us Sick members and allies picketed outside the Kitchener stop of the consultation tour.  Hundreds of leaflets were distributed and there was very positive community response.  Placards were hung on the wall of the building, banners were displayed and chants recited, all calling for real action to eradicate poverty.  We addressed the threatened OW/ODSP merger, the full restoration of CSUMB and Special Diet Allowance, and the demand for an immediate increase in rates by 55%.  The public and consultation-attendees alike stopped to chat and were appalled by the Liberals assault on the poor.

Kitchener Centre MPP John Milloy and Minister of Community and Social Services Ted McMeekin were both in attendance and they were consulted at – loudly – as they entered.  A delegation entered the building with our banners and further consulted at McMeekin, outside the conference room in the foyer.  McMeekin was held accountable for his participation in the war on the poor before he opted to leave the foyer in the opposite direction, away from the conference room.  Police showed up and helped us occupy the foyer as we chanted: “We’re hungry, we’re angry, we wont go away!  Stop the war on the poor, make the rich pay!”

We know that many who chose to attend the consultations are also very angry at the Ontario Liberals.  We are primed for the Province-Wide Raise the Rates Week of action, October 12-20.  All are invited.

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Leafleting to a supportive community

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Minister of Community and Social Services, Ted McMeekin (right) is consulted at in the foyer. “You can start by restoring all that you’ve stolen from us so far!”

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MPP John Milloy’s Director of Communications, Kelly Milne leads Ted McMeekin AWAY from the conference room where attendees were assembled.  Behind them you see a clear path to the conference room entrance and a staff person waiting to open the door for them. 

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The Ontario Liberals have turned their backs on the poor and the allies of the poor.  This is how the Minister of Community and Social Services responds to consultation from impoverished communities.  McMeekin, the few local people who are willing to even pretend to tolerate your sham of a consultation are waiting for you in a room at the opposite end of that hall way – where are you going?

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We held the foyer and chanted.

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“You see, Officer, this may well be Private Property but those in control of this private property invited Public Officials to host a public consultation, which voluntarily changes the nature of this space.”

Learn more about this action

Learn More about the Raise the Rates Week of Action, Events Across the Province

Learn More about the Raise the Rates Week of Action, Events in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge

forspecialdiet@gmail.com, @kwpmus, Facebook: Poverty Makes Us Sick!

 

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