Poverty, Voting and Elections – Poverty Task Force/United Way Community Update # 99

Dear Colleagues, 

Municipalities are involved in an increasing number of policy areas – housing, health care, climate change, economic development, immigration, Indigenous reconciliation, and more. This requires work across, and cooperation among, multiple levels of government.  

The Poverty Task Force has created a new page that contains information on poverty, voting and elections @ BruceGreyVotes.com (http://brucegreyvotes.com).

Poverty, Voting and Elections

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force believes that poverty issues and poverty reduction strategies should be front and center in the upcoming municipal election.

People of all economic levels want:  a steady income, a home that is safe and affordable; good health care and representatives in government that work together to improve our well-being. 

These issues are reflected in our collective action on housingincome solutionsgender, diversity & inclusion and health equity.

Basic Income and Housing

guaranteed basic income means that everyone’s basic needs are met in a dignified and sustainable way. Housing is more than just 4 walls, it is creating a home and foundation for people to thrive in. Listen to the voices of the RentSafe Advisory Committee in My Voice is Power.

Voting and understanding how local government works

Being informed about elections and exercising the right to vote influences the change we want to see in our communities. 

The Poverty Task Force has compiled a list of resources that will assist in voting and understanding how local government works. It is important to understand the different levels of government and what they are responsible for when voting.

Centering Anti-Racist and Equity Frameworks in Anti-Poverty Work

We All Live Here (infographic) and a policy paper presented to the City of Owen Sound by Community Voices speaks to the need for more diversity and inclusion in municipal decision-making. Community Voices  promote Diversity and Inclusion of People on Low Income in municipal government. 

The Poverty Task Force has compiled a list of resources and tools on diversity and inclusion on municipal councils.

General Voter Information 

  • Voter Registration: It is important for people to ensure they are registered to vote by Sept 1st, 2022 since many municipalities have shifted to online or phone voting. 
  • Visit VoterLookup.ca or call 1‑866‑296‑6722 to make sure people are on the Voters’ List.
  • The voters’ list will be prepared on September 1, 2022. If you want to add, remove, or change your listed information on or after September 1, you must contact your municipal clerk.
  • Election Help Centres will be set up and they open up at various locations on Oct 14th. Oct 14th-24th: Online or phone voting is open. 

Upcoming opportunities to learn more about Candidates 

Owen Sound

  • Sept 29: All candidates debate hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, Bayshore Community Centre, 5:15pm. 
  • Oct 12: All candidates debate hosted by Rebound Owen Sound at the Harmony Centre. 


  • Aug 24: Meet and Greet, Justin’s Oven, 7pm. 

Sauble Beach

  • Aug 28: All Candidates Debate, Sauble Christian Fellowship, 2-5pm.

Media News Release 

A Media Release will go out on August 24th.

  • Please share the new link @ BruceGreyVotes.com (http://brucegreyvotes.com).
  • We encourage all PTF members to use these materials at all candidate debates in each municipality and in meetings with individual candidates.
  • Please send us information on debates happening in your community. 
  • Please encourage people to register to vote! 

Stay well, Jill 

Walker touts compassion, after deficit 

By Scott Dunn, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound candidates in the June 12 election fielded questions on social justice issues Friday night at St. George's Anglican Church parish hall. From the left, Progressive Conservative Bill Walker, New Democrat Karen Gventer, Liberal Ellen Anderson and Green Jenny Parsons. (Scott Dunn/QMI/Owen Sound)

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound candidates in the June 12 election fielded questions on social justice issues Friday night at St. George’s Anglican Church parish hall. From the left, Progressive Conservative Bill Walker, New Democrat Karen Gventer, Liberal Ellen Anderson and Green Jenny Parsons. (Scott Dunn/QMI/Owen Sound)

OWEN SOUND – The deficit-fighting Progressive Conservative MPP Bill Walker told a left-leaning social justice crowd at Friday night’s all-candidates meeting in Owen Sound that he’s a “compassionate” guy who thinks government has to say no to more social spending.

“Unfortunately right now, we can’t just keep saying yes, yes yes to everything,” the one-term Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP told about 50 people in the parish hall at St. George’s Anglican Church. “We are compassionate. My colleagues are as caring and kind people as you’re looking at here.”

But while the Liberal, New Democrat and Green candidates generally agreed with pleas for more social supports and often promised funding, most times Walker said he either couldn’t speak for the party or wished he could make financial promises but Ontario’s $11billion annual deficit must be slayed first.

Walker received a polite but skeptical reception from many during the two-hour meeting.

He told them he was 10 when his father died, leaving his mother to raise him. She worked hard and they were of modest means, he said. He’s been an active community member, having organized Terry Fox runs, ran the Heart and Stroke office, led hospital fundraising, he told them.

He said he’s been “overwhelmed” since being elected and feels sad about need in areas including mental illness, kids with disabilities, seniors who can’t get home care or get into nursing homes, and has been touched by the needs of people with Alzheimer disease, which all need more money.

“The well is dry folks. We’re spending $11 billion and they want to add $3.5 billion more this year to the budget,” he said of the Liberal minority government’s budget. Neither NDP or PC MPPs supported it, forcing an election which will take place June 12.

But Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne vowed she’ll reintroduce it if re-elected.

Walker didn’t like the suggestion from a candidate and questioner that Conservative leader Tim Hudak was aiming to reprise the Mike Harris Conservative government’s years of cutting social services and public service unrest.

Colleen Purdon, the Owen Sound city councillor and social justice advocate, said Walker is compassionate but his PC party “has not got a great track record on compassionate policies.” She blamed the former Harris government and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government for leaving the social safety net in “tatters.”

She asked what will Walker and a Conservative government do to “make sure we don’t further lose both programs and equity in the province and in the community?”

Walker responded: “I wasn’t there in the past. I’m not going to try to defend or suggest to you why or why things didn’t happen.” He said he could only speak for himself and repeated he’s “extremely compassionate.”

He then observed Ontario saw high spending over the last eight years and hit record deficits, 800,000 people are out of work and it has the “highest levels” of poverty and unemployment and so “we need to change the way we’re going” to ensure needs can be met.

NDP candidate Karen Gventer told him he didn’t answer the question and that triggered Walker to complain that Gventer “doesn’t even actually have the courtesy to call him `Mr.’ Hudak. She talks about Harris, she talks about Hudak, and then she said `with all due respect.’”

Gventer said that’s how people are referred to in politics and so she refers as much to Hudak as she does Horwath, NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

Organizers of the social justice-focused debate asked questions about each candidate’s party positions on and commitments to fund programs supporting victimized women (particularly aboriginal woman), affordable housing, and corporate tax cuts. The candidates received them in advance and came prepared.

Liberal candidate Ellen Anderson got big applause for her responses when asked if their party would demand a federal inquiry into the 1,186 murdered and missing Aboriginal women over the past 30 years and what is her party’s strategy to address violence against Aboriginal women in Ontario.

She agreed to demand an inquiry. “I find it amazing that this is actually a question that we have to ask. I would think that the federal government should be just wanting to do this,” she said.

Anderson cited efforts federal Liberals are taking to pressure the Conservatives on that and related fronts. She also said she and her First Nations friends were talking recently about how ignorance destroys relationships.

“We took their children from them, we took their language from them. We took everything from them. They were good mothers, they were good fathers until we took all of their kids away and they didn’t have a chance to learn what that was about.”

She said when there is “real, native education” in both native and non-native schools, “I believe that’s when the true spirit of healing will occur . . . and a better understanding of our neighbours.”

A number of questions came from the floor, about which the candidates had no time to prepare.

Green Party candidate Jenny Parsons seized on a question from Ray Botten, an outspoken volunteer at the Victorious Living Centre in Owen Sound. The water was recently turned off to the church and soup kitchen there for unpaid bills, leaving Botten disillusioned and asking the candidates why he should bother to vote.

Parsons was familiar with the story and recounted that someone had broken into the soup kitchen and cooked a pot of spaghetti days before the water was turned off. She likened the outsider Greens to that guy who broke into the soup kitchen.

“I think you should vote Green Party because it’s like breaking into the kitchen and making spaghetti dinner,” she said, drawing laughs and applause.

The event was organized by the Women’s Centre Grey and Bruce, HER Grey Bruce, M’Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre and Peace & Justice Grey Bruce.

Ontario Election_June 12th_All Candidates Events Listing

Poverty Reduction is a key election issue. Our Ontario government is legislated to develop a poverty reduction strategy every 5 years regardless of which party is in power.

So it is important that candidates can speak and act on poverty issues.  Please find below a list of dates and locations for many of our local All-Candidate events. 

Please  find attached 2 flyers with information and questions to ask your candidates regarding Income Security and Affordable Housing.  Please feel free to use these flyers, photocopy them and circulate them.

Poverty Task Force_Election flyer_Housing questions

Poverty Task Force_Election flyer_Wage questions

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force shall be attending the below meetings and we encourage all members to ask questions!

Tuesday, May 27th, 7 pm, Keady Community Centre, Keady ON  The Bruce & Grey Federations of Agriculture, is having an All-Candidates event with a focus on Agricultural issues.

Thursday, May 29th, 7pm, On Roger Cable Network. Rogers Cable is holding a live All-Candidates event on TV for Bruce Grey Owen Sound riding.

They will take questions by phone from watchers, which will be moderated by Roger’s staff. Anyone watching can use our questions or their own and phone them in.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 6pm, Bayshore Community Centre, 900 3 Ave E, Owen Sound The Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce is holding an All-Candidates event with a focus on business issues.

The Chamber of Commerce shall be posing questions to the candidates prior to the event. The responses to the questions shall be published in the Make It Your Business newspaper on June 3rd.  The public shall be selected through a lottery to ask questions at this event.

Friday, June 6th, 7pm, St. George’s Anglican Church, Owen Sound The Women’s Centre, Grey and Bruce, is having an All-Candidates event with a focus on Social Justice issues.

The Community Action Committee of the Women’s Centre Board is organizing this event.  We are still confirming the process for asking questions at this event.