BY MICHAEL JAMES
The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP), a local anti-poverty and social justice watchdog, has a bone to pick with Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal government.
Simply put, S-CAP is angry at the government for backtracking on a number of its election promises, specifically with regard to promises that would have had a profound impact on the quality of life of this province?s most vulnerable citizens, the poor.
The group was also not pleased with being denied entry to Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci?s downtown office following a rally Thursday, which started outside the downtown Market Square.
According to S-CAP spokesman Gary Kinsman, protesters were incensed Bartolucci?s office staff didn?t invite them in out of the cold.
Not only that, they were miffed the cabinet minister?s staff felt the need to call police in to supervise the protest.
S-CAP also made it clear they would not rest until Sudbury?s newly elected city council made poverty, homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in Sudbury a priority.
?Winter is upon us and people are suffering,? said Kinsman, the driving force behind the anti-poverty group.
?Poor and homeless people cannot wait and need action now. We cannot wait for another death like that of Kimberley Rogers.?
Rogers was the Sudbury woman who died in her own residence in August of 2001 after being placed under house arrest for welfare fraud.
Shortly after winning the provincial election earlier this fall, McGuinty and his Liberal government began making noises about the $5.6 billion dollar deficit they inherited from the previous Tory government. Deficit reduction, they said, had to be their number one priority. It was the law. Legislation introduced by the previous Tory government made it illegal for a provincial government to run a deficit, say the Liberals.
This does not sit well with this anti-poverty group and many others across the province.
S-CAP is demanding the Liberal government restore social assistance rates to the level they were at before the Harris/Eves government cut welfare rates by 22 per cent. It is also demanding the government immediately raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and not by 30 cents as approved last week.
Kinsman said S-CAP will continue to be the voice for the poor and disenfranchised in this community and will not stop until social policies change to ensure the lower class have enough money and resources to live decent lives.