By Leah Watkiss
Amidst a strong public push for government austerity, Anglican and ecumenical groups continue to meet with Ontario’s MPPs to call for action to counter poverty and homelessness in our province. So far, they have met with 20 MPPs from all three parties across the Diocese, with more meetings planned. Learn more about our MPP visits.
As part of this ongoing campaign to build relationships with elected officials, Archbishop Colin Johnson and the diocesan Child Poverty Subcommittee have submitted a Brief to the Ontario Government’s Pre-Budget Consultations. Entitled “We Can’t Afford Poverty,” the brief challenges the minority government to work together as they did when they unanimously passed the Poverty Reduction Act in 2009. It asks that modest provisions be made in the government’s 2012 budget to assist those living under the poverty line and includes suggestions on where the government could find the money to fund them.
On February 24, Archbishop Johnson submitted the brief to Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, requesting a meeting to discuss the proposals. Copies of the brief are also being sent to local MPPs by Anglicans and ecumenical partners who share these concerns. In this non-partisan effort, MPPs are being asked to support three requests:
- index social assistance rates to inflation to ensure that the buying power of the most vulnerable at least stays the same in years to come;
- introduce a Housing Benefit for low-income tenants so that more money is available to them for essentials like food, education, and transportation; and
- Increase Ontario’s minimum wage from $10.25 to $11.00 an hour to ensure that all Ontarians with full-time employment live above the poverty level.
“Many in our society are asserting that we can’t afford to help the poor, given the government’s deficit and tough economic times,” says the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy Consultant Murray MacAdam. “Yet we always have choices as a society. Let’s not forget that. Moreover, low-income people in Ontario have already been living with austerity for 15 years. On a more hopeful note, in our current round of meetings, some MPPs, including a few Liberals, agree that the wealthy among us should pay a fairer share of the cost of maintaining our common life, and to help those in desperate need.”
Please help the cause by telling your MPP that you support these efforts. Find your MPP’s contact information and send him or her a copy of the brief with a personal letter requesting their support. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. MacAdam, at firstname.lastname@example.org .