Posts Tagged ‘ welfare ’

Ottawa – Leafleting at ODSP Office

Wednesday October 15, 2014;  As part of the Province-Wide Raise the Rates Week of Action, Poverty Makes Us Sick Ottawa partnered with Raise the Rates Ottawa, Poor Peoples Action Group (SAA) and community allies to offer information about the attacks on ODSP via the new Medical Review process.  The outreach took place in front of the ODSP office in Ottawa and was successful in growing a strong response to bring an end to this blatant attack on the income of already vulnerable people.

oct15medrev

Dreams dashed:  “Wait, not the Wynne Liberals?!” said a sympathetic former shelter worker.   The outrage and support was widespread.  There are 13 communities participating in the week of action across Ontario.  Join us for upcoming events in Ottawa and Kitchener:

Ottawa: Friday October 17th, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
12 noon: Community Meal and Rally with speaker and music by the Raging Grannies
1pm March to MPP Yasir Naqvi constituency office
www.facebook.com/events/599647510147620

Kitchener: Thursday October 16th:
5pm:  Community Meal, Rally and March
www.facebook.com/events/535255453285044

 

IMG_0684

Stop the attacks on ODSP!  Stop the new Medical Review Process!

Advertisements

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

 

Image

 

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

Ontario Liberal Convention, 2014

Image

                                   When Our Pots Are Empty, They Become A Weapon

March 22, 2014:  Raise the Rates organizations from across the province converged on Toronto to march on the Ontario Liberal Convention.  Joined by No One Is Illegal, Fair Wages Now and Labour allies, the messaging of the day emphasized the need for solidarity between poor people, migrants and other working people.  Poverty Makes Us Sick organized free buses from both Kitchener and Ottawa.  PMUS is thrilled to now be operating in both cities. The Ottawa bus also joined our friends and allies in Kingston Coalition Against Poverty for the trip. The march and rally was attended by a few hundred people, who banged their empty pots and pans – and the windows of the convention centre – to the beats of Rhythms of Resistance.

Jointly, we demand an immediate increase in social assistance rate by 55%, the full restoration of the Specials Diet Allowance and CSUMB, no OW/ODSP merger, access to services and access to a living income – beginning with an immediate increase in minimum wage to $14.      In the case of ‘failed’ Refugee Claimants, seeking acceptance on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds, we demand access to income itself. 

The Ontario Liberals, under “social justice” Premier Kathleen Wynne, have continued escalating their attack on the poor, overseeing the further degradation of and already inadequate social assistance regime and leaving full time workers below the poverty line.  We resist their assault.  This march and rally, along with OCAPs disruption of the Liberals $1500 a plate gala earlier in the week, serve as but one public front in a daily struggle to end this injustice.  We choose to survive the death sentence of their welfare.  We will endure their indignities and their beatings and we will win our just demands.

In addition to PMUS’s new work in Ottawa, where a re-energized Raise the Rates mobilization is rapidly taking shape, organizers with PMUS Waterloo Region have been bottom-lining work with the Community Coalition On Refugee and Immigrant Concerns, the Sanctuary City Network and members of No One Is Illegal (Toronto), to build a Sanctuary City campaign in Kitchener.  Initiated by PMUS, the work has been ongoing for some time and is about to have a public launch including the formation of a community steering committee.

Poverty Makes Us Sick remains committed to economic justice for all. 

Check out this video of the march and rally, disrupting the Ontario Liberal Convention!
Posted on Toronto Media Co-op by our friends and allies at the Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance:
http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/video/anti-poverty-march-disrupts-liberal-convention-tor/22267

 

OCAP Disrupts Liberal Dinner

Leading up to our Provincial mobilization this Saturday, allies in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty disrupted a Liberal fundraising gala.  The following is a press release from OCAP.  See you in the streets!

OCAP disrupts Liberal ‘Heritage Dinner’ – Stop the Liberal War on the Poor

The Ontario Liberal party’s annual lavish fundraising dinner was disrupted
this evening in Toronto by members of the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty. In the face of grinding poverty across the province as a result
of Liberal policies, a dinner that boasts of $1500 a plate is a slap in
the face to people struggling to pay the rent or put food on the table.
Disrupters unfurled a banner demanding a raise in social assistance rates
and littering the floor with macaroni.

This action is in the lead-up to a mass mobilization this coming Saturday,
March 22nd with people coming from across the province to protest the
‘Liberal War on the Poor’ at the OLP annual meeting. The Liberals have not
only solidified the 1995 Harris government cuts, but brought down their
own brutal form of austerity. Since 2005, this government has hacked away
at the Special Diet Benefit – a food benefit – making it almost impossible
to access.

Then in 2012 the Liberals announced the cut to Community Start-Up and
Maintenance Benefit – a benefit to get people housed, used often by those
who are homeless, in the shelter system, leaving an institution, or women
escaping domestic violence. This is on top of failing to raise the rates
of social assistance to any livable amount let alone keep up with
inflation. Today people are living on social assistance rates that are at
least 55% below where they should be. Wynne talks about social justice,
but few across the province have seen any evidence of that.

“We will not let the rich dine at our expense or at least not dine in
peace. The poor will not suffer in silence and we are fighting back!”

Join the March 22nd mobilization – no matter who is in power this spring –
Stop the War on the Poor, Raise the Rates NOW! http://ocap.ca/node/1137

(end of OCAP release)

See photo, here: http://t.co/26YCD19kEz

For details for free buses leaving from Kitchener and Ottawa, see:https://povertymakesussick.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/raise-the-rates-march-on-liberal-convention-get-on-the-bus/

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

Image

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

Image

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!

Image

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.   

Image

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

 

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.

Image

                                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

 

%d bloggers like this: