Poverty Task Force invites Municipal Election Candidates and the public to test their knowledge about poverty in our community!

At the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force we listen to people in our communities with low income. In the lead up to this election, we asked people with low income what do you want for your families?

“It turns out they want what people of all economic levels want:  steady income, a home that is safe and affordable.” says Jill Umbach, Coordinator of the Poverty Task Force. “They want good health care and representatives in government that work together with them to improve their well-being.”

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force are asking Municipal Election Candidates and the public – do you know what poverty looks like in Bruce County and Grey County?

We invite municipal candidates and the public to take our Community Survey to test your knowledge!

  • Did you know … ensuring formal opportunities to recognize and consult with people with diverse lived experiences builds stronger communities?
  • Did you know … support for community food centres and events reduces social isolation, promotes local food, and food skills programs?
  • Did you know … prioritizing safe and affordable housing creates safe and healthy neighbourhoods?
  • Did you know … income security solutions that include adequate social assistance would strengthen our communities?

QUICK FACTS:

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force has created a series of infographics with the latest data on poverty in Bruce County and Grey County.  Each infographic comes with references to assist you to learn more! Don’t want to read – then you can watch our Community Voices’ videos.

Infographics:

Videos:

Our Rentsafe: Above Standard Housing Project features members of our Community Voices speaking out on poverty-related issues in Owen Sound in 3 videos.

LEARN MORE:

VOTER EDUCATION

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force identified barriers to voting for people with low income and discussed potential solutions/action. Key questions were raised by people:

  • Why should I vote? “My voice won’t have an impact.”
  • How do I vote if I don’t have an address or I.D.?
  • How do I vote online if I don’t have have a computer?
  • How do I know what the candidates are standing for?
  • How do I find transportation to a voting station?

Education is key! 

The 2018 Municipal Election and School Board election is Monday, October 22. For information about your local election, please visit your local municipality’s website. Each municipality has posted voter information:

Planning to vote in the upcoming municipal election?  Visit voterlookup.ca to make sure your name is on the Voters’ List or call 1-866-296-6722 to learn more.

In 2018, voters in 14 municipalities will be able to cast their vote online from anywhere they can access the internet or telephone – 24 hours a day in some  municipalities. There will be no paper or mail-in ballots.

The service provider, Dominion Voting, has created a video to show how to vote by internet. Most municipalities have detailed information pages on Internet and Telephone Voting .

Three (3) municipalities will use a Vote by Mail methodology.

The YMCA Housing is authorized to verify status for people who are homeless.

Contact your local muncipality for information on All Candidate Debates, Voter Information Sessions and Voter Help lines in your municipality.

Defining Adequate Housing

apartment architecture balcony building
Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

Housing is a basic need and is internationally recognized as a human right. Housing forms the foundation for our homes, neighbourhoods and communities.

Housing provides shelter, security, a space in which family life can happen and where children grow up and thrive. Yet, for many people, their housing jeopardizes their health and well-being.

The unfit conditions in housing, disproportionately experienced by people living in low income or other marginalizing circumstances negatively affect people’s physical and mental health. Multiple chronic diseases and acute effects, including asthma, respiratory conditions, allergies, chemical sensitivities, as well as cardiovascular disease and its numerous risk factors can be exacerbated or, in some cases caused, by poverty, stress, and living in unhealthy conditions.

Our Community Voices  are featured in a recent series of Rentsafe videos:

Defining Adequate 

My Voice is Power

Stigma in the System

Towards Healthy Homes for All: RentSafe Summary and Recommendations April 2018, summarizes the research over the past 3 years and offers recommendations for action to improve intersectoral action and capacity to ensure healthy housing conditions

 

Income Security: A Roadmap for Change

Income Security: A Roadmap for Change Report was released on 2 November 2017.  The government held a public  consultation and they intend to release an “Income Security Strategy for Ontario” early in 2018, using the Roadmap as a guide.  All levels of government including the Federal government are involved in the development of this 10 year plan along with 3 working groups: Income Security Reform Working Group, First Nations Income Security Reform Working Group and Urban Indigenous Table on Income Security Reform.

Why this matters – the problem

The income security system was designed for the workforce of the past, where many people had long-term, well-paying jobs. Today, low-paying, part-time jobs of short duration are much more common. Many people have long-standing barriers to work and social inclusion due to:  intergenerational poverty, history of colonialism, mental health and addition issues.  More people turn to social assistance as a “first resort” despite the limitations of these programs.

Why this matters – the human toll 

Essential needs are increasingly out of reach for many people. It’s harder for people to climb out of poverty. More people have disabilities, are facing barriers to employment, social inclusion and higher costs of living. Poverty and low-income are negatively impacting people’s health and well-being.  Systemic racism and discrimination are contributing to entrenched inequity.

In 2008, it was estimated that poverty costs $32 to $38 billlion-a-year in Ontario. Around $2,300-a-year for every household in Ontario.

Why is this report important? 

This is the first report in 30 years that recommends major investments in and improvements to programs that affect the lives of people on low-income in Ontario. It reflects a fundamentally different approach to supports and services that puts people – and their needs and rights – at the centre of the system, with a recognition that social and economic inclusion, and not just getting a job, should be the goal.

It not only recommends increasing the amount, quality and kind of benefits and services that low-income people receive, but also is transforming the vision for the income security system, the principles behind the provision of programs and services, and changes the goals to a rights-based, equity approach and recognizes the realities of different groups who live in poverty and/or experience poverty.

The Roadmap recommends a new vision:

All individuals are treated with respect and dignity and are inspired and equipped to reach their full potential. People have equitable access to a comprehensive and accountable system of income and in-kind support that provides an adequate level of financial assistance and promotes economic and social inclusion, with particular attention to the needs and experience of Indigenous peoples (pg 69).

To achieve the new vision, the Report recommends changes in 5 key areas:

  • Making a commitment to income adequacy
  • Improving the broader income security system
  • Transforming the social assistance system, including a First Nations-based approach
  • Providing immediate help to those in deepest poverty
  • Respecting First Nations jurisdiction and ensuring adequate funding

The Roadmap reflect years of advocacy for change to Ontario’s income security system.  It is a tool that we can  use to ensure greater investments are made in the Provincial budget. We need to ensure that all candidates in upcoming elections are made aware of the Roadmap and support the transformation of Ontario’s income security system.

At our recent Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force meeting we shared a background summary of the recommendations prepared by the Income Security Advocacy Centre along with the link to a Webinar by Income Security Advocacy Centre .  An Income Security Roadmap Presentation – Nov 17  prepared by Anna Cain, Director of Ontario Works Branch, MCSS highlighted the recommended changes and was the basis along with the full Report of our discussion.

$2,000 donation to help tackle precarious work

Peace & Justice Grey Bruce is a member of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force. In partnership with the PTF’s Income Security Action Group, Public Health and United Way of Bruce Grey we are launching a campaign to work on bringing a living wage to Grey Bruce.  The article below highlights the work of the Peace & Justice and new funding from the Society of Energy Professionals to address issues of precarious work.

By Denis Langlois, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Peace & Justice Grey Bruce wants to get as many people as possible talking about what it calls the social and economic dangers of “precarious work.”

The local non-partisan coalition plans to use a $2,000 donation from the Society of Energy Professionals to continue to shine a light on the problem and lobby governments for action to address it.

David McLaren, a member of the organization, said a chunk of the money will be used to produce a report on precarious work, a term used to describe the low-wage and often part-time or temporary jobs that are on the rise in Ontario communities.

“We’re also going to be continuing our partnerships with other people. We’ll be trying to make this an election issue for the municipal election. And we’re going to be producing a lot more materials,” he said in an interview Thursday during an event and cheque presentation at the Grey Bruce Health Unit in Owen Sound.

“The idea is to go out and bring more people into the tent, if you like, under the umbrella, to talk about this. And some of those people will be in positions to do something about it as well.”

McLaren said social agencies and anti-poverty advocates cannot fix the problem on its own. Companies and businesses also need help.

“As soon as (employers) start paying higher wages, then they too become in precarious positions, so the only other place to look is to government. Government does have a mandate, they do have some authority under various legislation,” he said.

Municipalities, for example, can mandate that all of their employees receive a “living wage,” which is about $15 an hour in Grey-Bruce, he said. They can also insist that the companies they contract to provide services will pay their employees a living wage as well, he said.

The province, meanwhile, can require a higher minimum wage, while the federal government can revise its taxation system and legislation to support better-paying jobs, he said.

Peace & Justice Grey Bruce says precarious employment is work that does not pay well enough to get a person to the end of the month. Most often, the job does not include benefits. Some people are working three part-time jobs to make ends meet.

The organization says 20% of Owen Sound families are low income with a median income of $15,590 a year, which Statistics Canada says is about half of what is required for a family of four to stay out of poverty.

McLaren said Peace & Justice Grey Bruce is part of a coalition of organizations that is working to tackle precarious work. It also includes the United Way of Bruce Grey, the local poverty task force, the Grey Bruce Health Unit, municipal politicians and unions.

Dick Hibma of the Society of Energy Professionals said his local, which is made up of 1,100 Bruce Power employees, supports efforts to assist people in precarious jobs that have no voice.

He said his union wants to see all people paid a living wage.

The political decision-makers, including members of the provincial and federal governments, hold the key to fixing the problem, he said.