Posts Tagged ‘ poverty ’

Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) Speaking Tour coming to Kitchener and Ottawa this May!

 

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From May 4-15th, Ellen Clifford from DPAC will be on a provincial speaking tour, visiting Toronto, Kitchener, Sudbury, Kingston and Ottawa. Ellen has been campaigning with the disabled people’s movement for 15 years and, since 2011, has sat on the National Steering Committee of DPAC. She is also a member of Unite the Union and works to build solidarity between workers in unions and those forced to live on social benefits.

The Cameron Government in the UK has implemented brutal cuts to programs for unemployed and disabled people. This includes a system called the Work Capability Assessment that has been used to deny benefits to thousands of people.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is an organization in the UK that has been at the forefront of challenging this situation.  It has mobilized disabled people to fight back and formed alliances with community organizations and unions in resisting the austerity measures of the Cameron Government. The hated private company, Atos, that was carrying out the assessments of sick and disabled people has been forced to quit as a result of the powerful resistance DPAC and others have take up.

Here in Ontario, we also face major attacks. Ontario Works and ODSP rates are too low to enable people to pay their rent and eat properly. The Special Diet and Community Start Up have been slashed. There is a very real threat that the Government here will merge OW and ODSP and bring in a UK style assessment system. We need to understand what is happening in that country and how people are fighting back against the attacks.

Poverty Makes Us Sick is very excited to host stops in both Kitchener and Ottawa as a part of the provincial tour.

The Ottawa stop of the tour will be on Wednesday, May 7th, at 6:30pm. This event, with local speakers, Raise the Rates Campaign founders from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and Ellen Clifford of DPAC, will also serve as the public re-launch of the Raise the Rates Campaign in Ottawa.  Space has been provided by the Somerset West Community Health Centre (55 Eccles St) and is fully accessible. A meal will be included and bus tickets will be available. Childcare, ASL and French whisper interpretation will be provided as needed (please confirm by May 1st).

The Kitchener stop of the tour will be on Tuesday, May 13th, at 7pm.  It will be held at the Queen Street Commons (43 Queen St S).  A light meal will be provided.  The Commons is wheelchair accessible and has one single-occupancy washroom.  It is a kid-friendly space. Vegan and gluten-free foods will be available.

For more information call Poverty Makes Us Sick, (613) 220-0554 or email forspecialdiet@gmail.com.
Facebook events –
Kitchener: http://www.facebook.com/events/225928060937800
Ottawa: http://www.facebook.com/events/685486958164060

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Fair Wages Now Takes On Temp Agencies!

Monday April 14, 2014, 11am: As part of the monthly Fair Wages Now province-wide day of action, PMUS and allies toured downtown Kitchener, distributing literature on the streets and making stops at a few of the temp agencies.  

The temp agency industry made $11.5 billion in revenues across Canada in 2012.  The majority of those revenues were made in Ontario (50% of the industry).  Ontario’s temp agency industry had revenues of $5.7 billion in 2012. The Canadian temp industry made just under $1 billion in profits in 2012 by exploiting the precarious income security of workers. 

Temp workers get paid 40% lower than permanent workers doing the same job, often at minimum wage jobs. A recent Labour Ministry labour enforcement blitz showed that 3 out of 4 temp agencies were violating basic employment standards. Ontario workers need decent wages, working conditions and a decent minimum wage!  With this is in mind, we took our demands directly to the offices.

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Stops included Express Employment Professionals, Pivotal Action Fare, Adecco and Liberty Staffing. Participants sought to speak with management but were not given that courtesy and instead read a statement denouncing the exploitation of temp workers. Responses varied at the temp agencies from hostility and dismissal through to the disclosure that one employee was involved in campaigning for an increase in the minimum wage. 

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Community response, both in the waiting rooms and on the streets, was very positive.

 

See a full province-wide round-up of events and learn more about the campaign at www.raisetheminimumwage.ca

 
 
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In Waterloo Region, join Poverty Makes Us Sick and allies to demand an end to poverty wages!
 
@kwpmus
 
The KW mobilization of the Fair Wages Now campaign is facilitated by Poverty Makes Us Sick with the support and endorsement of Waterloo Region Labour Council and KOALA, and the coordination of Workers Action Centre (Toronto)
 
Source: Statistics Canada (2012) Employment Services Service bulletin Catalogue no. 63-252-X online:http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/63-252-x/63-252-x2014001-eng.pdf
 
Source: Statistics Canada, (2005) Study: Earnings of temporary versus permanent employees, The Daily, Wednesday January 26, 2005. online: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/050126/dq050126b-eng.htm
 
 

 

Raise the Rates March on Liberal Convention – GET ON THE BUS!!

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Poverty Makes Us Sick is organizing free buses from both Kitchener AND Ottawa!

STOP THE LIBERAL WAR ON THE POOR
Raise the Rates March to the Ontario Liberal Party Convention

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
Metro Hall, Toronto
Meal, rally and march (beginning at 1pm)

Free bus leaving from Kitchener City Hall (Duke & College) at 11am sharp, returning by 7pm*

Free bus leaving Ottawa from Bronson Centre (211 Bronson Ave.) at 8am sharp, returning by 9pm*

Kathleen Wynne is every inch a Liberal. She talks about poverty reduction while imposing deeper poverty on communities. She has been a leading member of the Government all along while social assistance (OW and ODSP) rates have lost even more of their spending power. She was a cabinet minister while the minimum wage was frozen, while the Special Diet was slashed and while the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit was being eliminated. There is no question that the Liberals added their own misery to the brutal cuts that the Harris Tories imposed in 1995. Today a single person on Ontario Works is expected to survive on just $626 a month, while rent and cost of living continues to rise beyond reach.

As we head into another round of provincial elections in the spring, we will not be swayed by fake gestures and empty rhetoric from any politicians.

We’re going to march on the Convention to demand from all parties:
– Raise OW and ODSP 55% to restore the spending power lost since 1995!
– Provide a $14 an hour minimum wage fully indexed to inflation!
– Fully restore the Special Diet and Community Start Up Benefits!
– No merger of OW and ODSP, stop the attack on Disability benefits!

*Bagged lunches provided on the bus.  Ensuring this event is accessible to all is a priority – contact us to discuss details.

For more Information or to get on the bus, email forspecialdiet@gmail.com or find us at www.facebook.com/groups/PovertyMakesUsSick/.

 

Organized and Endorsed by: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty, Kingston Coalition Against Poverty, Poverty Makes Us Sick Waterloo Region, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, Parkdale Against Poverty, CUPE – Ontario, OPSEU, and more!

 

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

 

Premiere Wynne: Dont Legislate a Poverty Wage!

Premiere Wynne:  Dont Legislate a Poverty Wage!

Take action today! Tell the Ontario Liberals that their offer of crumbs is not enough.
We demand a wage that brings workers out of poverty. Fair Wages Now!

See previous posts on this blog for more details and visit raisetheminimumwage.ca

Fair Wages Now – Participate in the ‘A Million Reasons’ social media campaign!

The good folks at Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services launched a social media campaign to fight for $14 Now.  We endorse this action.  Please participate.  There call out reads:

In support of raising the minimum wage campaign, we asked people to tell us one reason why we need fair wages and/or why we need minimum wage in Ontario to be increased to $14/hr (enough to lift working people out of poverty).  This included people stuck in minimum wage jobs as well as providers and sector leaders.have started documenting their answers in a visual photo/film documentary using social media. Please take a moment to visit our facebook page ‘A Million Reasons Why?’: https://www.facebook.com/Amillionreason . Please share, “like” and add your comments.

 You can also post your own photo/reason by following these simple steps:

1.     In a blank sheet of paper, write down one reason why you feel we need fair minimum wage and/or why we need minimum wage in Ontario to be increased to $14/hr (enough to lift working people out of poverty)

2.     Ask a colleague/friend to take a photo of you holding your written response to the camera. (If you want to remain anonymous, you can cover your face with the paper).

3.     Upload photo to https://www.facebook.com/Amillionreason or on twitter with hashtag #14now

4.     Share broadly. 

The photos will eventually be compiled into a film.

We will send these directly to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Yasir Naqvi, Ontario Minister of Labour.

Many of you are aware that the Ontario government is at the final stages of making a decision on minimum wage policy for Ontario following the release of the recommendations by the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel. While the Premier was committed to create a minimum wage that is fair for workers, there are indications the minimum wage may only be increased to $11. http://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2014/01/27/kathleen_wynne_objects_to_14_minimum_wage.html

This still puts minimum wage workers well below poverty line. As per panel’s recommendation, the government seems committed to increasing the minimum wage annually indexed to inflation. For this to be effective, bold leadership is needed to sufficiently increase the current minimum wage so it is benchmarked to above-poverty line, effective immediately. Marginal and delayed increase will fail to provide a permanent solution.

Please join us in this social media initiative and add your say. Every voice counts at this critical moment. Premier Wynne tweeted that she is carefully listening to what people have to say on this.

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

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