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Social Assistance Review: Halton Too Has Poverty

On July 4, 2011 Community Development Halton and Poverty Free Halton, at the invitation of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, met with Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh, Commissioners of the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario. Halton and its municipalities rarely receive visits from commissions appointed to investigate social issues. As John Versluis, co-chair of Poverty Free Halton commented: “Poverty in Halton is often hidden, buried under the veneer of affluence and well-being.”  He continued emphasizing that “the gap between the annual income of a family of four on social assistance and that of the median Halton family income is $5,793 per month or approximately $69,230 per year.  These people live in different worlds, making bridges of compassion and understanding difficult to build.”

Rishia Burke and Jen Gerrard of Community Development Halton told the Commissioners that they, and others from their research team, had crossed the Region talking with people living in poverty. The many stories of people painfully showed that the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, recreation and the opportunity  to belong to their community were outside of the reach of those in poverty and especially those on social assistance who live in ‘deep poverty’. Rishia Burke added: “Mental health was always an underlying theme during community conversations. Poor people live under tremendous stress. They do not have enough money to live and face choices between housing or food.  Every day they face the stresses of surviving.” Jen Gerrard told the Commissioners; “Programs and services should respect the dignity of people. They should not feel ‘less’ as a result of asking for assistance to meet basic needs.”

As the conversation moved on to social assistance reform, Joey Edwardh of Community Development Halton pointed out that the dialogue and, ultimately, the recommendations for change, must be evidence-based. She observed: “Today, there is no evidence-based process for determining social assistance rates and as a result the benefits have no relation to the cost of living in a community”.  She also pointed out that reform of social assistance needs to be based on a new paradigm that not only meets human needs but also respects the dignity of people. She emphasized: “This framework would move beyond that of the ‘welfare wall’ which implies that the benefits of those on social assistance must be kept to a certain level, inadequate, insufficient and punitive, to avoid a disincentive to enter the labour force.” The Commissioners thanked the delegation for their thoughtful and insightful presentation and in the public meeting that followed recognized the recommendation for a paradigm shift.

In the public meeting that followed, a number of people raised the issue of fair taxation as the means of sustaining supportive social supports and adequate benefits. For more information on the Hamilton consultation, read Social Assistance Review: Hamilton Consultation’s Prescription for Reform (July 4, 2011).

Social Assistance Review: Commissioners Asked to Take “Bold Action” in Niagara (July 5, 2011)

Commissioners Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh were in Niagara Region on Tuesday, July 5 and met with representatives of community agencies, social assistance advocacy groups, a Regional Niagara Councilor and Regional Community Services Staff in the morning. They then had lunch with a small group of social assistance recipients for their input into the issue. In the afternoon they met with Regional OW caseworkers.

In the morning, the Commissioners were urged to take “bold action” in their reform proposals and to release an interim report before the provincial election to help bring poverty into a stronger public and political consciousness. The Commissioners resisted the notion indicating that they would “engage politicians but not make pronouncements.” The Commissioners expressed an interest in finding some kind of “broad consensus” around which they could “coalesce” to pass on to the government.

Community participants told of the economic hardships that people are experiencing in Niagara leaving many who had always worked now in desperate living conditions. They reported on the “cycle” of moving back and forth between the labour market and social assistance because of the low paying and precarious nature of the jobs that are available. Regional social services staff reported the heavy pressures under which they work with caseloads higher than the provincial average.

The need for more adequate benefit levels for people on social assistance was clearly stated, although the Commissioners expressed some concern about fairness to working poor people if social assistance recipients were seen to get benefits not available to them.  All of which only once again points to the importance of linking a more adequate and improved social assistance system to labour market policies and programs that ensure decent-paying jobs and good employment standards.

Although the Commissioners’ meeting with social assistance recipients was private, it was reported to be a very intense and emotional conversation, which the Commissioners indicated was very valuable to their purpose.

Thanks to Gracia Janes, Chair  of the Social Assistance Reform Network of Niagara for providing preliminary and very brief  notes for this report.  More detailed notes of the morning meeting were taken by Regional Niagara staff and will be available shortly.

This is What Poverty Felt Like

WELLAND – As we sat in a room in the MacBain Centre in Niagara Falls, a dramatic analogy of poverty played out around us. Marvyn Novick and Peter Clutterbuck from the Social Planning Network of Ontario spoke to us on behalf of Poverty Free Ontario, and a strange thing happened.

The lights, set up with environmental conservation in mind, were to go out at set intervals after detecting no movement in the room. This happened several times, and as a result the listeners of the presentation had to perform wild gesticulations so that the light would return.

Watching this frantic communication to the great motion sensor in the sky, left me with a profound feeling.

This is what poverty felt like. The lights of the world had gone out, and one is left frantically flailing their arms in the darkness hoping someone will notice.

The only problem with this analogy is that poverty isn’t something that just happens. It’s caused by you and I: those that can afford to pay our rising bills, including HST, without complaint, who can afford niceties that we don’t really need, who struggle to come up with one or two cans when it comes to the annual food drive.

In order to ensure our own comfort, we have deliberately put those in poverty in the dark. It saves energy, money, resources if we just pretend that they’re no longer in the room, and we shut out the lights.

We sing a hymn by Shirley Erena Murray in our church, entitled Touch the Earth Lightly. In it, we are reminded at the dramatic impact we have upon this planet.

We who endanger, who create hunger, agents of death for all creatures that live

Whenever we sing those lines, I’m left with an unmovable lump in my throat. The problem with poverty is not just a religious matter.

Athiests, agnostics, whatever flavour of religion satisfies your palate; each of us need to work together, if there is any hope of eliminating poverty. It doesn’t belong to any particular political party either. Poverty requires us to acknowledge the inherent worth of our neighbours. Especially the one you don’t get along with.

The presentation at the MacBain Centre laid the foundation for this discussion of poverty with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, issued by the UN shortly after the Second World War. It was written and adopted to ensure one group of people do not mistreat, subjugate, or demean another group.

Yet that is exactly what is happening between those that exist both above and below the poverty line. We use language that refers to laziness and the pulling of bootstraps. We assume addiction and abuse. We claim squandered cheques and too much help and they won’t help themselves. Any words that can be used to lessen our collective guilt, we employ it. It lets us off the hook.

We feel better about ourselves. We sleep soundly at night, and what little we do about poverty, if any, seems grandiose.

According to recent statistics, we have seen an increase from 11% to 13% of Ontarians existing in poverty, or in other terms, 1.7 million Ontarians are below the poverty line, 400,000 of whom are children. Myths of poverty aside, one-third of those 400,000 children actually come from families where parents had full-time work.

Gone are the beliefs that having a “good job” met all your needs. Gone is the belief that only the uneducated cash cheques from Ontario Works or ODSP. (In fact 80% of those below the poverty line graduated high school, and 40% have some post secondary education). Families are now required to have two incomes at a minimum, leaving many to split time between multiple places of employment, just to break even. When we hear poverty, it often comes with the more heartstring- pulling adjective of child poverty.

While it is admirable to seek to improve the lives of children in need, we cannot forget that there are still more than one million adults and seniors that face each and every day without the basic needs for life.

At Central United, as well as other locations around our city, meals are served, by local organizations and churches. The visible poor aren’t often in front of our eyes, like the larger centres of Toronto, or Ottawa, but Welland struggles just the same. While there are familiar faces that come each and every meal, a certain percent of the group is always new.

We’re never sure what led them to our table that month, as the pain of poverty prevents many from sharing the difficult journey they’ve endured. We only know that for one brief moment, judgment is checked at the door, people are fed, and hope is shared.

If you’re like me, you wonder what you can do at all when it comes to the great chasm of poverty. In that moment, please realize that doing something is better than doing nothing at all. Know that there is a provincial election and ensure each of the candidates offer their party’s plan on how to combat poverty. Contribute to a food bank more than once a year.

Get the figures on how much on average those in poverty have for food per month and try surviving (and then imagine what a $100 a month healthy food supplement might do to your diet). Speak to those at the Hope Centre or other institutions around Welland that work to fight not just the symptoms of poverty, but the root causes. And if you’re still unsure where to start, may these words strengthen your resolve.

They were written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw and attributed to Bishop Oscar Romero who ministered to the people of El Salvador, and offered hope during hopeless times.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted,

knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation

in realizing that. This enables us to do something,

and to do it very well.

Editorial by Rev. Chris Fickling in the Welland Tribune

http://www.wellandtribune.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3203592

Social Assistance Review: Report from the Field on London Consultation (June 29, 2011)

The Social Assistance Review Commissioners spent Tuesday, June 29 in London, Ontario.

A breakfast meeting with the commissioners and key sectoral leaders from the community was followed by two half-day facilitated “conversation cafes” with a tour of three agencies over the lunch – My Sisters Place, London Inter-Community Health Centre, and the Men’s Mission.

The conversation cafes were structured around the five issues plus a sixth table to surface “other issues.”

Invitations were sent out broadly in the community with specific asks to advocates to see if individuals with lived experience in OW/ODSP worlds would attend and participate.

Sixty people attended the morning session including about 5 individuals with lived experience.

In the afternoon, 115 people attended with perhaps a dozen or so people with lived experience.

The emerging local Inter-Faith Social Action Coalition had representatives at both sessions.

A number of OW caseworkers and front-line supervisors also participated.

A number of advocates took the Commissioners’ workbook and are going to work with their clients to complete and submit to the Commission.

A summary of the comments is being prepared and will be distributed to all participants and to the Commissioners and will also be made available to Poverty Free Ontario for posting on this web site.

Thanks to Ross Fair, Chairperson of the Child & Youth Network Ending Poverty Committee of London, for this initial report on the London consultation.

TVO AgendaCamp in Sudbury Finds Poverty Top Concern

TVO’s The Agenda visited Greater Sudbury on Sunday June 26 and engaged close to 100 community members in a dialogue to discern key questions for this fall’s election.

The number 1 question coming from the group was “In 2009 almost 1.7 million people in Ontario were living in poverty costing Ontario households up to $2,900.00 year in related costs to health care, education, housing, criminal justice and lost productivity.  Eradicating poverty would realize billions of dollars in savings in all of these areas.  What is your vision for an Ontario without poverty and how do you propose we get there?”

Listen to responses from representatives of the 3 major political parties. The poverty question was asked last, so the responses are near the end of the taping, starting around the 36:00 minute mark.

Lankin Strikes Several Important Notes in Launching Consultation in Windsor

WINDSOR – The Windsor Star reports that Commissioner Frances Lankin addressed several critical issues about social assistance reform as she and Dr. Munir Sheikh launched their community consultations in Windsor yesterday.

Although indicating that the Commission would have to make recommendations to simplify a rule-bound social assistance system, Commissioner Lankin also pointed out that there is no rationale for how OW and ODSP benefit rates are set. The Windsor Star reports that Commissioner Lankin said, “It’s not rational . . . It’s not related to how much it may cost for shelter, healthy meals, clothing.”

She also challenged the “urban myth” that people can be better off receiving social assistance than working. Citing the rising numbers of working poor people, she expressed concern about the growing numbers of low-paying and part-time jobs.

The Windsor Star reports that Commissioner Lankin “said government cuts to welfare rates over the last two decades were made to encourage people to seek jobs. However, with the job market offering lower paying jobs, and families living below the poverty line, we may now be in a ‘race to the bottom.’ ”

Poverty Free Ontario has offered a structural analysis of the status of poverty in Ontario that points to the same problems with both inadequate benefit levels and a low wage job market. Action on PFO’s policy priorities would end deep poverty by 2015 for people on social assistance and bring general poverty down to 4% or lower within this decade.

Poverty Free Ontario urges the Commissioners to propose a clear strategy for raising benefit levels to enable people on social assistance to live with health and dignity and to address the poor quality labour market by recommending an increase of the minimum wage over a three-year period that will bring the incomes of earners working full-year, full-time above the poverty line.

Poverty Free Ontario plans to post local reports on the Windsor community consultations on Thursday, June 30.

PFO Bulletin #2: 2009 Figures Show Growth Rate of Poverty in Ontario

2009 Figures Show Growth Rate of Poverty in Ontario the Highest of All Regions in Canada since 2007 Election

As the public debate starts to warm up in Ontario for the October election, Statistics Canada’s release of the 2009 poverty rates yesterday point to the importance of firmly placing poverty on the provincial political agenda. Using the official poverty indicator adopted by Ontario as part of its poverty reduction strategy in 2008 (Low Income Measure After Tax – LIM-AT), Ontario’s poverty rate increased to 13.1% in 2009, a growth rate of 17% since the 2007 provincial election year (See Table following).

While Ontario’s poverty rate is slightly below the LIM-AT for Canada at 13.1%, the rate of Ontario’s poverty growth has increased the highest of all other regions of Canada and reached a total of 1,689,00 Ontarians in 2009, which is 277,000 more people living in poverty than in 2007.

While the rate of poverty growth by age group is lowest among children at 3.5%, Poverty Free Ontario notes that the proportion of working age adults (18 to 64 years old) living in poverty increased from 11.2% to 13.4%, a growth rate of 19.6%. Ontarians 65 years and older also show an extremely high poverty growth rate of 41.9% since 2007, although the overall proportion of seniors in poverty still remains below 9%.

The figures illustrate that the poverty levels in Ontario among unattached males (24.1%) and unattached females (25.0%) remain exceptionally high. The poverty growth rate among unattached men under 65 years old was 6.9%, off-setting the almost equivalent 7.2% rate of poverty decrease for unattached women under 65 over the two-year period.

Among the population living alone, however, unattached elderly women have fallen into poverty at the highest rate since 2007 (20.1%).

This first review of Statistics Canada’s poverty figures for 2009 indicates that, although measures to end child and family poverty need to be maintained and strengthened, the rate of poverty among working age adults, seniors and adults living alone is entrenched and growing rapidly. A comprehensive strategy to end poverty among all parts of the population is sorely needed to stem and reverse this direction.

It is critical that poverty eradication become a major issue in the Ontario provincial election.

PDF Version of PFO Bulletin #2

Poverty activists frustrated.

‘We’re just not cutting it for people living in poverty’

YORK REGION – Poverty is finally coming out of the closet, York Region Food Network program co-ordinator Yvonne Kelly told social service activists and advocates attending the Human Dignity For All: Working For a Poverty-Free Ontario symposium yesterday.

Creating awareness, igniting political will and advancing a policy agenda will support the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating destitution in our communities by 2020, she said.

The gathering at the Aurora Public Library, presented by the Social Planning Network of Ontario and sponsored by its regional council, the Food Network and other stakeholders, is a prime example of how discussion leads to action, Ms Kelly said.

“We want to bring everyone to an understanding of what a poverty-free Ontario could look like,” she said.

“It’s about galvanizing and bringing people together. There’s more impact and momentum by working collaboratively.”

Planning network co-ordinator Peter Clutterbuck lauded York Region’s anti-poverty efforts, citing the region as having one of the strongest social planning councils.

His colleague and keynote speaker Marvyn Novick, a social science professor at Ryerson University, agreed, suggesting the region’s work on poverty reduction is encouraging.

Still, social strata inequities, locally and globally, remain.

Poverty levels in Ontario haven’t changed in 30 years, he said. Social assistance incomes remain unacceptably low.

The poverty line for one adult is $18,582. A single adult on Ontario Works receives $7,352 per year, a gap of more than $11,000. A single parent with one child hits the poverty line at $26,279, but receives $16,683 in Ontario Works support — a deficit of just under $10,000.

Living in deep poverty means tens of thousands of Ontario adults and children experience chronic cycles of hunger and hardship each month when money runs out for basic necessities, he said.

Having a job doesn’t necessarily help, he said. Low pay keeps many trapped in poverty. One third of all Ontario children living in poverty in 2008 came from families where parents worked full time.

The eradication of poverty is premised on policies focusing on three key areas, Mr. Novick said.

To end deep poverty, social assistance needs to be upgraded. To stem working poverty, basic living wages must be enhanced. To ensure food security a full housing benefit must be phased in.

He advocates for an immediate $100 per month healthy food supplement for all adults on social assistance.

Poverty is political, he said. Industrialized countries with high levels of wealth also have the highest levels of poverty and disparities. The Ontario government’s commitment to reducing child poverty ends in 2013, he said. Accordingly, it’s imperative to have poverty front and centre on the provincial election agenda this October.

Ms Kelly agreed.

“We can’t afford not to address poverty,” she said.

York Region Social Planning Council co-chairperson Pat Taylor said efforts to ease the plight of the marginalized need to speed up.

“We’re just not cutting it for people living in poverty,” she said. “This event underlines the urgency of this message. By increasing peoples’ understanding, we hope to create action and strategies that will work.”

In timely tandem with the symposium was the Food Network’s release of Hunger in the Midst of Prosperity: The Need for Food Banks in York Region: 2011.

Last year, regional food banks provided sustenance for more than 52,000 clients, a 20-per-cent spike from 2008, the report notes. More than four in 10 adults said they go hungry at least once a week. Among children surveyed, 17 per cent go hungry once per week.

Food network executive director Joan Stonehocker expressed frustration about the continued need for food banks.

“The pace of change around poverty reduction seems painfully slow,” she said. “As Canadians, we should no longer be speaking with pride about our social safety net. Too many people in our communities are forced to use food banks to get enough to eat.”

The report identifies the struggles of living on low income. With a high proportion of income going to housing, people juggle funds to try to stay afloat and food becomes a discretionary expense, she said.

http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1023759–poverty-activists-frustrated-by-pace-of-change

Moving to a Poverty Free Ontario

The Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) plans to launch an initiative to build cross-community support for a Poverty Free Ontario by the end of this decade.

Social planning councils have a long history since the 1930s of advocating for low income people, whether welfare recipients or working poor. In recent years, the SPNO and its organizational members have assumed a lead role in urging the Ontario Government to adopt a poverty reduction strategy for Ontario. Specifically,

  • In the summer-fall of 2007, SPNO mobilized cross-community support for poverty reduction in Ontario and released a report on “Ontario as the Child Poverty Centre of Canada”, which prompted Premier McGuinty prior to the October 2007 election to commit to the development of a poverty reduction strategy within one year of his Government’s re-election.
  • SPNO strengthened its cross-community mobilization on poverty reduction by developing a Policy Framework and Blueprint for Poverty Reduction and by conducting two tours of the province visiting 30 communities prior to the release of the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy in December 2008.
  • Since 2009, working with community leadership in Toronto and across the province, SPNO has focused on the Put Food in the Budget Campaign (PFIB), promoting the adoption of a benefit increase of $100 a month Healthy Food Supplement for all adults on OW and ODSP as the first step towards adequacy in benefit levels to enable all Ontarians to live with health and dignity.
  • Partnering with The Stop Community Food Centre and guided by the PFIB Steering Committee, the SPNO has provided organizing and field support for the use of the on-line Do the Math survey tool (9,000 completed) and has engaged 20 communities across the province in the Do the Math Challenge.

2011 Provincial Election Year

The Ontario Government’s current commitment to poverty reduction focusing on a 25% reduction in child poverty ends in 2013. Since 2011 is a provincial election year, now is the time to begin a public discussion about where Government action needs to go to move from a partial and measured commitment to reducing child poverty to a full commitment to the eradication of all poverty in Ontario by the year 2020.

In May 2010, the SPNO leadership set policy development and cross-community mobilization for a poverty-free Ontario as a major provincial and community level priority for SPNO and its local and regional organizational members in 2011.

Mission

An Ontario free of poverty will be reflected in healthy, inclusive communities with a place of dignity for everyone and the essential conditions of well-being for all.

The mission of Poverty Free Ontario is to eliminate divided communities in which large numbers of adults and children live in chronic states of material hardship, poor health and social exclusion.

Securing a Legacy Commitment

2017 will be the 150th anniversary of Canada as a country and Ontario as a province. Poverty Free Ontario will ask the political leadership of all parties in the 2011 provincial election to commit publicly to a “legacy commitment” for the Sesquicentennial. That legacy commitment would be for the provincial government of whatever political stripe to have adopted and implemented a comprehensive plan by 2017 resulting in the eradication of poverty in Ontario by 2020. This plan should move beyond poverty reduction targets set by the current Government for children in 2013 to bring all children and adults out of poverty by the year 2020.

PFO Strategy for 2011

A.   A Policy Agenda for a Poverty Free Ontario

A new Policy Agenda for a Poverty Free Ontario would build on SPNO’s policy development work in 2008. Essentially, policy proposals will be developed and advanced in three key areas for the eradication of poverty in Ontario:

  1. End Deep Poverty: Upgrade Social Assistance
  2. End Working Poverty: Assure Basic Minimum Wages
  3. Protect Food Money: Phase in a Full Housing Benefit

The Policy Agenda would link the strategy for eradication of poverty with a good quality of life for all Ontarians in order to build public and political support.  It must demonstrate that the interests of the poor and the broad middle class are indivisible.

B.    Critical Milestones

Simultaneously with the framing and promotion of a Policy Agenda for a Poverty Free Ontario, there are specific actions and resource allocations that can and must be taken now and over the next year or more to kick-start a longer term commitment to eradicating poverty. These actions constitute Critical Milestones that would:

  1. address immediate hardships that people are experiencing now (i.e. the HFS);
  2. identify key decision dates for the implementation of poverty eradication measures to achieve the goal by 2020; and
  3. demonstrate serious political commitment to poverty elimination beyond the perpetual future promises that have prevailed to date.

The Put Food in the Budget Campaign advocating for a $100/month Healthy Food Supplement for all adults on social assistance is an immediately doable action. This measure could be implemented as part of the Government’s commitment to Social Assistance Review, which at the moment is focusing on long-term overhaul of the income security system rather than action possible immediately using the existing social assistance system.

Proposing specific measures for ensuring income adequacy beyond the first step of the HFS, Poverty Free Ontario would constitute an important policy development link to the immediate social assistance increase that the PFIB campaign is advocating.

Poverty activists prepare for new battles

GUELPH — Poverty activists turned a classroom into a war room this week, plotting their return to the fray of electoral politics after a few years in the wilderness.

About 60 people came out to the community forum on poverty policy in Rozanski Hall at the University of Guelph where three panellists highlighted concerns facing low-income Canadians.

“Change comes from the collective energy of people in a room like this,” said political science professor Byron Sheldrick, the forum’s MC. “They don’t have to listen if we don’t speak.”

The event served as an informal launch of a local effort to put poverty back on the agenda. Right-wing cost-cutters triumphed in the recent federal election as well as Toronto’s 2010 mayoral race.

“Poverty can only be reduced and eliminated when there’s a political will,” Brice Balmer, one of the panellists, said. “It’s time for that political will to show.”

The panellists were unanimous in their support of a $100 food allowance for people on welfare.

“We keep on hearing we can’t afford it. There’s not enough money,” Mark Woodnutt, a co-ordinator with the Stop Community Food Centre, said. “But we know that’s not the truth. We know there is money.”

The 2011 provincial budget includes $4 billion in corporate and capital tax cuts primarily for banks and insurance companies, Woodnutt pointed out, adding since the government of former premier Mike Harris took power in 1995, social assistance rates have been almost cut in half.

“These are conscious, political choices to keep people in poverty.”

Currently, a single adult on Ontario Works gets about $592 a month to cover rent, heating, water, clothes, personal items and food, Woodnutt said. “When it doesn’t add up, people need to make impossible choices.” Since food is a flexible budget item, it’s often the first thing to be sacrificed, he added.

Panellist Peter Clutterbuck, co-ordinator of the Social Planning Network of Ontario, outlined his organization’s campaign for a poverty-free Ontario.

He said raising the minimum wage to $12.50 from the current $10.25 and ending the clawback of Ontario Works earnings would help keep everyone in the province out of poverty. Of social assistance, he said we must “stop degrading it” and “stop demonizing the people who get it.”

Balmer, a minister with the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, said Canada’s middle class has stagnated for decades while the wealthiest have grown wealthier. “We now have a growing gap between the rich and the average,” he said.

An underground economy exists where low-income seniors buy dentures retrieved from funeral homes, Balmer said, and a Kitchener man required ambulance service 157 times because of chronic, poverty-related health problems.

“Think what that costs,” Balmer said. “We need to change how we spend the health care dollars.”

The event was organized by the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination. Coordinator Randalin Ellery said she hopes the task force will reach more voters and politicians this time around.

“The federal election came up so quickly, there wasn’t a lot of time to prepare,” she said.

Guelph MPP Liz Sandals has been active on the task force, Ellery said, adding she hopes whoever is elected continues to meet with the group. “It is a great spot for a dialogue,” she said.

dhalfnight@guelphmercury.com

http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/local/article/537758–poverty-activists-prepare-for-new-battles

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