On Friday, February 17th, a delegation from PCAP went to Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament Jeff Leal's office and put him on notice (see letter to Leal at end of this article).
The dozen people from the delegation, including people being cut off of the special diet, advocates, Trent students and a member of OCAP in Toronto put Jeff Leal on notice: unless he make a public statement endorsing a 40% increase in social assistance rates to restore them to pre-Harris cuts levels, including an increase in cost of living, we will step up our campaign of protest and direct action.
As he refused to make such a statement, we will be carrying out more actions in the next month to put the pressure on the Liberal government to give people on OW/ODSP enough money to live in dignity.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
-Go to PCAP rallies and actions.
-Come to to our General Meetings, the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 6 PM at Grassroots Cafe (Hunter and Aylmer). Or, email us back and let us know you want to help.
-Help support PCAP financially. Fighting the good fight isn't free, especially if we want to send people to out of town actions. You can drop off cheques in the name of the Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty at the Credit Union, next to the Price Chopper on Brock Street. Or mail them to PCAP, #17-393 Water St., Peterborough, ON, K9H 3L7
-Spread the word or write letters to the editor. The more people know about what's going on, the better.
-Write letters to the MPP. He probably won't care, but it's worth a shot and only takes a few minutes anyways. Tell him you want social assistance rates raised 40% and an end to the special diet reinstated. Here's his contact info:
236 King Street,
Fax: (705) 742-1822
We stopped by your office to demand a 40% increase to social assistance rates, and a restoration of the Special Diet Supplement.
People living on social assistance haven’t seen a substantial increase in their payments since Mike Harris slashed their rates 21.6%. The 3% increase
offered by your government was not even close to making up for this. Including the cost of living increase, social assistance rates would have to
be raised 40% to make up for the losses incurred during the Harris years.
By not reversing Harris’ anti-social and destructive cuts, you are implicitly aligning yourself with his poor-bashing ideology. You were voted in because people were sick of the so-called Common Sense Revolution. Instead of improving the lot of your low-income constituents, you are hypocritically perpetuating their poverty.
Not only did your government not increase social rates in any meaningful way, but you actually restricted access to the Special Diet Supplement. That
existed to give people on welfare up to $250 per month on top of their regular payments if it was deemed medically necessary. Many health care practitioners have decided that poverty is a medical condition. An open letter entitled “Hunger: A serious issue for OW/ODSP recipidents” signed by almost 100 medical professionals and experts claimed that they “recognize
that current Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program benefit rates are too low for recipients to adequately feed themselves after attending to other basic necessities such as rent and transportation costs.” This letter was also signed by a host of local organizations inlcuding the
Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Peterborough Coalition for Social Justice, Peterborough Social Planning Council, YWCA Peterborough, Victoria and Haliburton, United Way of Peterborough and District, and PARN - Your Community AIDS Resource Network. If it interests you, the letter can be found at http://ocap.ca/rtr/diet/letter.
Nevertheless, your government decided that hunger isn’t that big a deal and restricted access to the special diet. Now, people who have liver failure are entitled to an extra $10 per month. People who are just plain old hungry are out of luck.
We’re sick and tired of waiting for your government to move. We need 40%, we need the special diet supplement, and we want you to publicly state in
the legislature that you are in support of this.
Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty