Equity and Inclusion: Community Voices engage with City of Owen Sound Council

Renee Schlonies and Tanya Butt presenting to City of Owen Sound Council on behalf of Community Voices

Two Graduates of the Getting Ahead program and Communty Voices members, Renee Schlonies and Tanya Butt asked the City of Owen Sound Council to consider the views of people on low income when making their decisions.

The Community Voices co-chairs provided a snapshot of poverty in Owen Sound. Recent political and economic conditions have contributed to the decline of full-time jobs and an increase in poverty.

  • 60% of people on low-income are working
  • 20% of employees in Grey County have multiple jobs
  • 95% of all new jobs created in Ontario were part-time
  • 1 in 3 jobs in Ontario is temporary, contract, or part-time.
  • Full-time at Minimum Wage of $11.25/hr ($23,400) falls well below
  • Ontario’s Low Income Measure:
  • $23,861 (1 person)
  • $29,706 (2 persons)
  • $36,520 (3 persons)
  • Living Wage for Owen Sound $21.01

Community Voices submitted an Equity and Inclusion for People Living in Poverty position paper to the City showing how people on low income contribute to our community, identifying barriers and inequities; and suggesting recommendations to the Council.

People who live on low income do contribute to the economy and quality of life in the city! The low income community often provides care for each other’s children and exchange food, sharing what each household has. There are networks of support, information exchanges, and some people become community advocates.  Many of those on social assistance or ODSP invest in the community by actively volunteering for community organizations.  Volunteers sustain non-profit agencies such as day-away programs, shelters and food banks. 

When we are on social assistance, we often work part-time and therefore receive reduced amount of assistance.  While social assistance is not taxed, we contribute to taxes through purchase of goods and services; and property taxes are collected from our rents. 

We participate in civil society,  advocate for equity and inclusion, and raise future leaders by educating our children.   Low income communities encourage the creation of programs that can benefit people across all income levels, by sitting on boards and committees, and by sharing stories with decisions makers. 

Our vision includes:

  • a poverty-free city is where people living in poverty are actively involved in decision-making processes at the City and in the community.
  • More affordable and well-maintained housing is available.
  • Healthy food is accessible close to where people live.
  • The City is free of financial predators that perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
  • People in Owen Sound earn wages adequate to support a healthy, active standard of living.
  • Living Wage is instituted throughout Owen Sound.
  • High quality bridging programs are accessible to people transitioning from income assistance to the paid labour force.

It is important that people living in poverty participate in solving community problems, not just their own.  Getting Ahead graduate 2013

 

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