Voices Against Poverty

2013 MEMBERS
Lucette Chiasson Plourde
Linda Coltman
Lisa Haggith
Donna LaBonte
Ray Poisson
Erwin Selimos
Lorena Shepley
Cynthia Ziel

Honourary Members:
Judy Allingham
Nancy Bishop
Yvonne Craig
Sandy Hunter
Sarah Parks

Voices Against Poverty Blog

Voices against Poverty is participating in the Put Food in The Budget campaign

Voices against Poverty is participating in the Put Food in The Budget campaign which is conducting what is called A Poor People’s Inquiry to answer the question of:

“Do the changes to social assistance introduced by Premier Wynne put food in the budget of people who are poor in Ontario?”

A Poor People’s Inquiry is being used to gather evidence from those who are on social assistance, and their allies.  Inquiries are composed of community panels, public testimonies, and a vote on the question stated above.

Voices against Poverty is holding two inquiries on Tuesday December 10, 2013.  One during the day and the other during the evening that will be youth focused.  All are welcome to attend.  Locations are still to be announced.

For more information on the campaign visit www.putfoodinthebudget.ca

For more information on Voices against Poverty’s inquiries contact Voice against Poverty at vap.windsor@gmail.com.

Guest blog post on the Market Dollar reporting event

Written by guest blogger Austin Tyrrell

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the people of Windsor have struggled significantly since the recent recession. The past few years have certainly taken their toll on families in the region, and some might even say that Windsor has struggled to maintain a positive image as a result. Yet for all of the negatives one might associate with the city of Windsor, every now and again you find something within its borders that melt your heart. The market dollar project operated by Pathway to Potential within the Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market is one such example, and its effects on the community were beautifully presented yesterday during the Market Dollar Report event.

To give some background, the market dollar program was first seen last summer as a controlled pilot project. The objective here is to help those struggling financially receive healthy, local food in a way which avoids the stigmas often associated with social assistance programs. To do so, a currency that is only accepted at the Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market (the market dollars) was developed and distributed to those in need. This provides an opportunity for a community to come together and lend a hand to one another, as local farmers are able to sell their produce to a greater variety of people.

The market dollar project is perhaps the finest fruit such an establishment could reap. It does more than just provide food to people in need. It allows people, regardless of social or financial status, to intermingle with one another on the same level. It gives people an opportunity to learn and grow on both a personal and social level. It even gives the chance for people to learn from the experts who grow them, what foods provide the best value, as well as how best to use them. As so nicely put by Joe Byrne, one of the panellists at yesterday’s event, “no matter where you are, when you visit a farmers’ market, you find the very best in people.”  To take a word used so often yesterday, the market dollar project empowers those involved in it.

Even yesterday’s event followed this theme. This was not an opportunity used to boast, but rather one used to receive advice from members of the community who might not be heard as often as they should be. Just as the market dollar program empowers its beneficiaries, so too did this event empower all those in attendance; and I can truly say, it is an invigorating experience to know that you have the ability to make a difference. This is what makes the market dollar program so special. It gives individuals within the community the power to change the direction Windsor has taken, as opposed to relying on the Government or large organizations; it gives people with little to give, something they can give back. Most of all though, it gives Windsor something to be proud of.

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, RE: WELFARE FOR HORSES BY CHRIS VANDER DOELEN

Voices Against Poverty (VAP) wrote a response to Chris Vander Doelen’s opinion column Welfare for Horses regarding “the Ontario government’s recent decision to allow Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients to retain up to $200 in earnings beyond their entitlement.”

Here is a preview of the letter:

“Vander Doelen’s column illustrates a lack of understanding about poverty and social assistance in Canada. It perpetuates unfounded stereotypes about people who, for circumstances often beyond their control, must live in poverty or teeter on its edge.”

“Poverty is not an individual choice and is certainly not the result of intrinsic laziness. Some people suffer from disabilities, either mental or physical, that prevent them from working full time.”

To read more of VAP’s response to Chris Vander Doelen, click here.

 

Undocumented: Workshop for those without papers in Windsor and Detroit

Blog post by Donna LaBonte
Thursday, March 28, 2013

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the Undocumented Workshop at the Art Gallery of Windsor held by the Border Book Mobile project. The main purpose of the group is too provide access on both sides of the border for immigrants and those people of lived experience of  poverty to obtain documentation to enter either country. In this project the goal is to provide people access for cultural exchange and to give immigrants a view of both Windsor and Detroit.

Broken City Lab and Border Book Mobile Project are partners in the project with Creative Rights, and all groups want discussions on what laws immigrants and others would face in order to get a passport. Broken City Lab is in on the discussion to explore the cultural and artistic needs of each country. Creative Rights has offices in Detroit and Ann Arbor and is providing input on the legal issues from the U.S. standpoint. Border Book Mobile Project wants to gain input on how to obtain or find out what documentation is needed for those applying.

In this discussion the group focused on the immigration laws on the U.S. side. Creative Rights discussed how the process is uneven and how issues such as minor infractions affect the process. For older infractions it is easier to proceed with the passport process.  This group wants to make the process easier by partnering with other groups like Pathway to Potential and Voices Against Poverty and Legal Assistance of Windsor for advocacy.

Since 2009, the only way for a person to travel across the border is to provide customs with an enhanced license or documentation. In future discussions the group is going to explore how people of lower income can obtain the necessary documentation, and which groups need to come to the table to provide input about the process.

In April the next meeting will be held at Broken City Lab’s office with more discussion.

Six Point Plan of Action: Poverty Free Ontario’s United Plan of Action

Blog post by Lillian Gallant
Voices Against Poverty
March 9, 2013

On March 8, member of Voices Against Poverty attended a meeting with various communities all over Ontario, to develop a six point plan of action on poverty. This plan of action is based on “good faith”, the idea that we will work with dedicated elected officials toward social assistance reform that is fair, both to those living on the system and to those who are considered the working poor. At this point there has been no commitment to a poverty reduction strategy by our provincial government although Premier Wynne has stated she is dedicated to social justice issues. Poverty Free Ontario and allies suggested that now would be a good time to push for some proposed changes that would improve the lives of those living with poverty issues.

Six Point Plan based on Good Faith:

1.  Rate increase for recipients of Ontario Works (OW) and  Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) **

2. Index the rates now (OW, ODSP) to mirror the increase to the cost-of-living

3. Do those (proposal 1 & proposal 2) without cuts to the existing benefits

4. Implement earnings exemptions now- allow for people to retain more of the money they earn.

5. Commit to plan which will raise the minimum wage to 10% above the poverty line **

  1. Index minimum wage now **

**At present, because of the freeze to minimum wage and no indexing for those receiving social assistance, people are currently living 19% below the poverty line.

During the course of the daylong event various speakers did presentations on “good faith” ideas, aimed at  the growing  need for the six point plan. Some of the key ideas presented were; a need for solidarity for those living with poverty issues; increase in social assistance rates and minimum wage;  rather than dismantling the social welfare system, change the current one as it is not broken, and; possible ways for the government to find money through various tax measures (not just personal taxes).

Voices Against Poverty and Pathway to Potential have both agreed to adapt the six point plan to move the poverty agenda forward and work towards change.

If you would like more information about the six point plan, please go to http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/  of you can contact Voices Against Poverty at vap.windsor@gmail.com.

Local response to provincial cuts to homelessness prevention through CSUMB

Pathway to Potential recently partnered with Voices Against Poverty to collect video impact statements of those with lived experience of poverty. The purpose of the videos is to inform Windsor-Essex about the vital role the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) has played in preventing homelessness and providing housing stability for those on social assistance.

Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation – Housing Rights and Issues

On Monday, February 25, 2013 John Fraser from the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) met with service providers in Windsor to discuss housing rights and issues. CERA is a non-profit organization and has been around for approximately 25 years. They helped make the human rights code, they advocate to promote inclusiveness, they do a lot of public education in various cities, and they also work with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO).

There are three levels of housing rights: at the international level we have The Universal Declaration of Human Rights(- 1948), which states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family”; at the national level we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right to “life, liberty and the security of the person”; and at the provincial level we have the Ontario Human Rights Code, which “applies to actions, policies, practices or laws that directly or indirectly discriminate based on one of the 16 ‘prohibited grounds’.”

Some of the housing issues around that service providers are seeing in Windsor-Essex include: lack of subsidized one-bedroom units and not enough 4-5 bedroom units, not enough accessible units, stigma around mental disabilities, discrimination against people on social assistance, racial and ethnicity discrimination, concentration of ownership (landlords), bed bugs, low incomes and high rent.

Some of the strategies currently being used in Windsor-Essex are: Family Services Windsor-Essex County’s bed bug program and housing search resources, co-ordination of homelessness programs such as the Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy, Legal Assistance of Windsor’s work to assist unrepresented tenants, CMHA has mental health advocates, Street Health’s Keep it Tidy program, which helps people search for apartments, and the Community University Partnership.

CERA is willing to work with Windsor to ensure homeless people have options, to look at the root causes of housing issues (e.g., adopting a health or mental health approach), providing education for landlords, and living wage advocacy.

Remastered Remember the Day Videos by Desiree Drouillard

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11th Annual Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies Community Dinner

Click here to view the official Women’s Studies site on the event.

Laura Robinson

Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies

Keynote address: Too Many Men on the Ice: What the world might look like if Don Cherry were a woman

What if a woman who spoke about the courageous fights women have every  day – for equal pay, a harassment-free workplace, for reproductive choice, good daycare, for an end to violence against or as an executive – dressed up in brightly coloured clothes, was paid exorbitant amounts of money by the public broadcaster, and commanded the national airwaves?

What if opera, ballet, great concerts, or women’s soccer preempted the national news instead of hockey?

What would Canada look like?

What would the world look like?

G. Caboto Club
2175 Parent Avenue
Windsor, Ontario
Reception at 5:30pm
Dinner at 6:30pm
Dinner tickets $60
Available online at www.uwindsor.ca/wsvisitor
or by phone at 519-253-3000, ext 3727

Remember the Day… Video Shorts

The goal of the Remember the Day campaign is to make poverty a key issue in the 2011 provincial election.  The campaign uses video shorts to highlight the reality that people do not choose to be poor.

We want people to remember these video shorts when they vote on Thursday, October 6, 2011.  In  support of Poverty Free Ontario‘s goal to make poverty an election issue. We support Poverty Free Ontario’s policy agenda to eradicate poverty in Ontario. Our hope is that this campaign will bring support to eradicating poverty and inspire other individuals and groups, both in our region and across the province, to create their own “Remember the Day” campaign.

October 4, 2011 – Mental Health

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September 27, 2011 – Natural Disaster

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September 20, 2011 – Child Support

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September 13, 2011 – Layoff

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September 6, 2011 – Compassionate Care Benefits

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August 30, 2011 – Remember the Day… Internationally Trained Professionals

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August 23, 2011 – Remember the Day… Domestic Violence

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August 16, 2011 – Remember the Day… Pharmacare

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Pathway To Potential

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