ISARC Forum Story – Nov 28, 2016
By Murray MacAdam
Turning the Tide Against Poverty Forum Launches New ISARC Campaign
ISARC kicked off a new advocacy campaign to influence the province’s 2017 budget at a Queen’s Park forum Nov.24 that drew 75 people of faith from across southern Ontario to hear strategies and learn from each other.
Anglican Archbishop Colin Johnson opened the forum with a reflection on how the needs of the poor are central to people of faith. “What would it look like,” he asked, “if all of our policies were based on the inherent dignity of every person? At the root of each person is a being that is cherished and we have to act in that way.”
Keynote speaker Senator Art Eggleton emphasized how poverty costs us all, in terms of stress and higher health costs, as well as the loss of dignity felt by the poor. One in seven Canadians lives in poverty, with 900,000 dependent on food banks each month, 38 percent of them children. Meanwhile almost half of working Canadians are living from paycheque to paycheque. “We really need a new way of dealing with this,” he said. “The old way has not worked.”
The Senator encouraged participants to take action such as by building affordable housing on the property of religious groups, joining local poverty reduction coalitions, and meeting with political representatives. Building political will is critical, he noted. “Poverty is a tough sell. Poverty doesn’t grip the government enough to do what needs to be done.”
A panel presentation outlined various elements of the issue. MPP Cheri DiNovo outlined how Sweden has a much lower poverty rate than Canada through free childcare, large affordable housing programs, and high rates of unionization. Rabbi Michael Satz outlined the call to support the poor found in Scripture and that “tax is not a bad word.” Economist Kaylie Tiessen said we need a range of policies. Tara Kainer, who works with citizen groups in Kingston, made poverty real by outlining her difficult life as a single mother. “I lost nearly a decade of my life,” she says.
The forum also heard from MPPs Jonah Schein and Julia Munro, as well as Chris Ballard, Minister Responsible for Poverty Reduction, and Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services, who urged participants to take part in the government’s pre-budget consultation process. “We need to get more people conscious that we need to lift people up.”
The urgency of the situation was underscored as the Campaign 2000 coalition released its 2016 Report on Child and Family Poverty in Ontario also on Nov.24 at Queen’s Park, with report co-author Jennefer Laidley speaking at the forum. The report pushed for policies to live out Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy, including a $15/hour minimum wage, dental coverage, and new affordable housing.
For more information on how to visit your MPP, download our Advocacy Tool kit from our website or contact ISARC coordinator Chris Pullenayegem at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Together we can end poverty”
DOWNLOAD: Senator Art Eggleton's Powerpoint