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Activists push for minimum wage hike during 'Raise the Rates' week

Events are planned throughout this week as Sudbury activists pushing for a higher Ontario minimum wage take part in the “Raise the Rates” provincewide action. On Oct.
Events are planned throughout this week as Sudbury activists pushing for a higher Ontario minimum wage take part in the “Raise the Rates” provincewide action.

On Oct. 14, more than a dozen people took part in a Thanksgiving Day march that saw demonstrations held outside a McDonald's Restaurant on Notre Dame and the Tim Hortons in the downtown core.

Fifteen members of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) accuse the popular restaurant chains of actively lobbying against efforts by groups such as theirs to raise the minimum wage.

“The Raise the Rates campaign of community and union groups is addressing both the needs of those who work for wages, but live in poverty, and also those who are trying to survive on the very low rates provided by Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Payments,” said Gary Kinsman, a member of S-CAP taking part in the Raise the Rates campaign. “We are creating unity and cutting across divisions created between different groups of people living in poverty.”

Activities continue this evening (Oct. 15) with a screening of the film “Invisible City” by the Graduate Student Association (GSA) at Laurentian University. The anti-poverty film will be shown at the downtown Mackenzie Library at 6:30 p.m. From Academy-award nominated director Hubert Davis, the film is the story of two boys from Regent Park crossing into adulthood and depicts the disconnection of urban poverty and race from the social mainstream.

Then on Oct. 18, Raise the Rates campaign supporters will gather at 2 p.m. in Memorial Park to call for the restoration of the provincial Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit program, which provides emergency funding to people to keep them from becoming homeless.

Supported by Mamaweswen, the North Shore Tribal Council, at 1:30 p.m. a free meal will be served in the park. At 2 p.m., those attending will here from Liisa Scofield, an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume.

Following speeches, the group will march to Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci’s office, where the S-CAP 11, arrested last year for trespassing after sitting-in at the MPP's office and whose court dates are coming up the end of this month, will deliver a statement before marching to the Provincial Building.

On Oct. 19, supporters and activists will stage a local rally and march to coincide with provincewide events. The focus will be on the Ontario Disabilities Support Program and First Nations' fight for control over ODSP in their communities.

Free pizza and salad will be served at 1:30 p.m. at Sheridan Auditorium at Sudbury Secondary School, with the rally to follow at 2 p.m.

Participants are asked to use the College Street entrance. Speakers will include John Clarke from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Shannon Balla from Poverty Makes Us Sick in Kitchener-Waterloo, Laurie McGauley on Kimberly Rogers and more.

Music will be provided by Streetwise and OB. The rally is followed by a march through downtown streets led by people with disabilities.

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