Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The following is an appeal from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) for a rally next March 24th.
Emergency Action Tuesday March 24th:‏
FACING THE CRISIS: We Didn't Create It - We Won't Pay for It!
FREE MEAL AND RALLY: Defend the Special Diet! Raise the Rates Now!
DATE: Tuesday, March 24, 2009
TIME: 11am
LOCATION: City Hall (Bay and Queen)
Food banks, shelters, EI offices and welfare offices are bursting at their seams. There isn't enough food or shelter for poor people. People are going hungry every day in this city. As layoffs rise hunger will only increase. The number of people on social assistance in the city jumped 13%-- or 10,000 more people -- last month. Only 3 in 10 workers in Toronto get EI if they lose their jobs. The other 70% of unemployed workers will almost all end up on welfare but welfare payments are too low to pay for both food and rent. These alarming figures mean that every month in Toronto more and more people are going hungry, and becoming homeless.
Over 10,000 people in Toronto depend on a monthly social assistance benefit called the Special Diet payment. Up to $250 a month, this money makes it easier for poor families and individuals to put food on the table. This payment is crucial to survival and health, but it isn’t enough.
In the midst of an economic crisis which is hitting the poorest the hardest; the city, the province and the Toronto Sun are waging a war on the poor. Instead of putting money in the hands of those who most need it, they justify the priorities of the rich and powerful. But we know that in this economic crisis, poor people need more – not less.
Instead of getting poor people what they need, the city is now auditing the Special Diet benefit and how poor people are getting it. This is a waste of time and money. We already know that $250 isn't enough for people on assistance. We already know that people are going hungry. Rather than nickel and dime people on welfare and ODSP, the city should be giving the Special Diet to everyone and demanding that Premier McGuinty raise the level of social assistance so that people can avoid both hunger,and homelessness.
Instead of getting poor people what they need, the province has been championing a sham Poverty Reduction Strategy. This strategy does nothing for poor people without kids, does almost nothing for families on assistance, and does not address the real crisis facing the thousands of unemployed people in our province.
Both the city and the province need to act now to ensure that poor people aren’t abandoned during a recession. We need both the Special Diet payments to continue and a dramatic increase in the level of social assistance payments.
Raise the Rates!
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St.
Toronto, ON M5A 1R6

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