Back in Session, Work to Do!

In this week’s eBulletin:

  1. Quote of the Week
  2. Back in Session: Work to Do!
  3. Still Waiting: Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy
  4. More Barriers for Workers under Bill 68
  5. Municipal Election 2010: Press Your Candidates on Social Services Cost Savings
  6. Community Update: Windsor Gets Busy
  7. 25 in 5 Co-Chair Takes “Put Food in the Budget” Challenge
  8. The Federal Front: Red Tents hit Parliament Hill October 19


Quote of the Week:

“Our experience does not support the view that anyone outside the labour force who receives social assistance is either lazy, a failure or in some sense inferior.”

Who said it? John Yaremko, former Progressive Conservative MPP and Cabinet minister, at a luncheon at the Empire Club in 1971. Former premier Bill Davis said of Mr. Yaremko that “He recognized that in any civilized society, those who are more fortunate have some obligation to help those who have less.” Mr. Yaremko died on August 12, 2010. See the Globe and Mail story here.

“This is not charity. It’s an investment.”

Who said it? An opinion editorial in the Hamilton Spectator, on the City of Hamilton’s recently introduced Affordable Access to Recreation Strategy. See the Hamilton Spectator editorial here. And check out this other editorial on the entire Action Plan of the Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction.


Back in Session: Work to Do!

The Ontario legislature went back into session on September 13.

As we move towards the next provincial election in October 2011, there is lots of work to be done to ensure that the promise of the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy is met.

All parties in the legislature – the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, and the NDP – voted in favour of the legislation enshrining Poverty Reduction in law. That means that all parties must be pressed to keep working to meet their commitment.

25 in 5 is starting work on the second annual Progress Report on the government’s progress toward its poverty reduction goals. This will set the stage for assessing the government’s next provincial budget – and for judging all the parties on their election platforms in the run up to October 2011.

See 25 in 5’s year one report, “Making Good on the Promise”, here.


Still Waiting: Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy

With the legislature back in session, the Housing Network of Ontario is urging everyone concerned about the lack of truly affordable housing to press the issue with your MPP.

The Liberal government failed to meet its own deadline of spring 2010 for the release of the long-term affordable housing strategy and has said it will be released this fall. In August a new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was appointed – making Rick Bartolucci the third minister in just over one year.

The government must hear that Ontarians want a housing plan that helps reduce poverty and strengthen our economy – and that it’s long overdue.

Take Action!

  • Email or call your MPP;

Click here to find your MPP’s contact information.

  • Tell your MPP that Ontario must renew & strengthen their commitment to poverty reduction by bringing in a fully funded, comprehensive affordable housing strategy with:

–     Annual funding to build 10,000 affordable homes/yr and for ongoing maintenance;

–     A new Housing Benefit to close the gap between high rents and low-incomes;

–     A plan that works for marginalized communities;

–     Legislative changes to better protect tenants & to promote affordable housing;

–     Accountability from government to meet their promises.

  • Ask your MPP if they support a housing strategy that passes the HNO’s ‘5 Tests for Success’ for Ontario’s long-term affordable housing strategy. 

Click here to visit the Housing Network of Ontario’s website – and get more information about the HNO’s ‘5 Tests for Success’.


More Barriers for Workers under Bill 68

The provincial government’s proposed changes to Employment Standards under Bill 68, the “Open for Business Act”, will create huge barriers for workers who face unpaid wages.

The Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services are calling on the provincial government to stop these changes, which would bring in mandatory self-enforcement and could force workers to settle for less than what they are owed.

Workers in precarious jobs have little power to negotiate with their bosses. We need zero tolerance for employers that break the law, not changes that force workers to settle for less.

Take Action!

  • Watch the video and hear from WAC members why they oppose Bill 68.
  • Get involved in WAC’s campaigns for fairness for workers. Contact them to find out how to join the campaign!


Municipal Election 2010: Press Your Candidates on Social Services Cost Savings

The provincial government has pledged to upload social services costs from municipalities, saving communities across Ontario $12 million in 2011. When the process is complete and all costs are uploaded, municipalities will save $1.5 billion every year.

Where is all that money going to go?

With local elections coming soon, activists across the province are starting to press municipal and regional council candidates to make sure that money gets spent on poverty reduction initiatives in their communities.

The Alliance to End Homelessness in Ottawa is calling on candidates in the upcoming municipal election to pledge to put $15 million a year into an affordable and supportive housing fund – their fight was featured in a recent Ottawa Citizen newspaper story. Check the Alliance’s municipal election website for more information and to see their Candidate’s Questionnaire.

25 in 5 is playing an active coordinating role, working with activists across the province to assist them in raising this issue in their own local communities and to share other effective ideas to raise poverty issues in the current municipal campaigns.


Community Update: Windsor Gets Busy

Poverty reduction work continues to be spearheaded by activists, advocates, and people with lived experience in communities across Ontario. If you want your community’s update published in a future 25 in 5 eBulletin, please send details to

In Windsor, Pathway to Potential (P2P) is working to ensure poverty is a priority municipal election issue and continues building local support for a meaningful provincial poverty reduction strategy.

All-Candidates Event:

P2P’s Income Support working group hosted an All-Candidates Event on September 22. More than 100 people, including 40 municipal candidates, attended. Participants completed the ‘Do the Math’ survey, watched the film ‘Poor No More’, and joined breakout groups in the following areas: affordable transportation, food security, jobs and income security, and multi-sector partnerships.

‘Vote Out Poverty’ Campaign:

Voices Against Poverty, a P2P working group comprised of people with lived experience of poverty, will be distributing a ‘Vote Out Poverty’ booklet that includes local statistics on poverty and highlights the important role of municipal government in poverty reduction. Voices will be organizing community engagement sessions during which they will discuss and distribute the booklet.

Municipal Bus Tour:

Voices Against Poverty is planning to host a post-election bus tour to educate municipal candidates about poverty.  The tour will highlight significant areas of need as well as success stories that have resulted from investment in poverty reduction.  Local MPs and MPPs will also be invited to take the tour.

These are great ideas that your community could also do. Make sure to check out the Pathway to Potential website for more details. And send your community’s update to for inclusion in a future eBulletin.

More information on what communities are doing will be available in the next ebulletin.


25 in 5 Co-Chair Takes “Put Food in the Budget” Challenge

How well could you eat on a welfare budget? Ten people in Kitchener-Waterloo are about to find out – by taking the Put Food in the Budget Challenge.

Greg DeGroot-Maggetti is one of those who will live for a week onthe money allocated by social assistance for “basic needs”. Greg is Poverty Advocate for the Mennonite Central Committee in K-W and Co-Chair of the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction.

He and other participants will be blogging about the experience throughout the week. Greg’s first blog entry tells why he’s taking the challenge:

“When the Ontario Government cut social assistance rates by 20% in 1995 and then froze it for ten years, I was stunned by the injustice and felt complicit for not having spoken up against the poor bashing rhetoric that paved the way for those cuts. I have been speaking up ever since…. But I have never tried to walk even a week in the shoes of many people I know who have to try to live with the meagre allowance provided by social assistance. This is my chance to do that.”

The Challenge is taking place in K-W this week and in 15 other communities across Ontario starting October 4.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign is calling for the immediate introduction of a $100 monthly healthy food supplement for all adults receiving Ontario Works and ODSP. The 25 in 5 Network supports this campaign, which is run by The Social Planning Network of Ontario.


The Federal Front: Red Tents hit Parliament Hill October 19 

Reliable estimates place the number of homeless people in Canada as high as 300,000. In anticipation of Homelessness Week, the Red Tent Campaign is getting set for a National Day of Action on October 19th to call on the federal government to address this crisis.

The Red Tent Campaign is off to Ottawa to ask Conservative MPs and the Bloc Quebecois to join with the NDP and the Liberals in supporting Bill C-304, An Act to secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, for a funded national housing strategy.

When:   October 19th 2010, 10am EST

Where:  The lawn of Parliament Hill

What:    Day of action in support of a national housing strategy.

308 tents, one for each Member of Parliament, will be set up on Parliament Hill with a personalized tag detailing the member’s voting record on issues of housing and homelessness. Show your support and send a message to the government by sponsoring one of the tents.

For more information or to sponsor a tent, visit or email

Red Tent is a joint campaign effort of more than 20 housing organizations, including: Pivot Legal Society, CWP Advocacy Network, ACORN Canada, Impact on Communities Coalition, and the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario.


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