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Putting poverty on the political agenda - Janet Gasparini

Did you know that in Ontario, a single mom with one child on social assistance lives more than $9,500 below the poverty line – with the poverty line being $26,279? Or how about the fact that a person who is working full time year-round earning minimu
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Did you know that in Ontario, a single mom with one child on social assistance lives more than $9,500 below the poverty line – with the poverty line being $26,279?

Or how about the fact that a person who is working full time year-round earning minimum wage still lives below the poverty line?

How about the fact that 402,000 Ontarians every month are forced to use food banks, and that 37 per cent of those using food banks are under the age of 18.

Did you also know that the cost of leaving poverty in place far exceeds the cost of remedying the situation?
Numerous studies have shown that the costs of health care, education, criminal justice, social services and lost productivity are in the billions of dollars across Canada.

In fact in a study in Calgary, it was estimated that the costs for one individual living on the street for a year was $134,000 (emergency shelter, hospital care, law enforcement, social services), while the cost for a transitional shelter bed for that same person was $34,000 a year.

Our provincial government has the authority and capacity to act in areas to respond to the conditions that poverty creates and to start Ontario down the path to end poverty in this decade.

Yet, as the provincial election on Oct. 6 approaches, there is very little evidence that tackling poverty will be on the agenda for discussion.

Poverty Free Ontario (PFO) is working in more than 20 communities across the province to make sure that the issue of poverty is not neglected in the upcoming election.

Candidates for office have started getting their names, pictures and campaign literature in front of Ontario voters. We think voters should also be getting their message out and we are using conventional election signage and messaging to do just that.

Hopefully you have started to notice the “Let’s vote for a poverty free Ontario – Votons pour l’ontario sans pauvreté” signs popping up around the community.

You can easily be part of this campaign by visiting www.povertyfreeontario.ca and downloading the “I’m Voting for a Poverty Free Ontario” sign and displaying it in your window.

We urge you to take a moment, find it, print it and display it. This non-partisan message asks candidates from all political parties to make poverty eradication a priority concern in their election campaigns.

On Sept. 15, at the height of the election campaign, faith institutions in communities such as Cornwall, Kingston, Belleville, Parry Sound, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Peel, Windsor and many others launched the “Let’s Vote for a Poverty Free Ontario” sign blitz.

We ask that you join this provincewide, cross-community initiative to send a message about ending poverty in Ontario to candidates running for provincial office in Sudbury and Nickel Belt.

When candidates knock on your door, ask them what they are going to do to end poverty in our province.

For more information on getting involved in the Poverty Free Ontario campaign please contact Janet Gasparini at the Social Planning Council of Sudbury at 705-675-3894 or by e-mail at jgasparini@spcsudbury.ca

Janet Gasparini is the executive director of the Social Planning Council of Sudbury.

- Posted by Vivian Scinto


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