Some Reflections at the End of the Year
December 18, 2012 Poverty Reduction
An op-ed piece authored by Clinic Staff Lawyer Marisa Scotto di Luzio appeared this past weekend in the Hamilton Spectator.
In case you missed it here is a link. http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/article/853335--hope-for-the-ontario-poverty-reduction-strategy
Ms. Scotto di Luzio reminds us of that hopeful moment on December 4, 2008 when the province promised to enact a plan which would reduce child poverty by 25 per cent by 2013. At that moment there was hope because our political leaders seemed to recognize that poverty is not inevitable.
It is difficult now reflecting on the lack of progress the province has made in its poverty reduction strategy.
Looking for some light at the end of the tunnel some of us were encouraged, though, by a meeting that took place in Hamilton last Friday.
You can find more out about that event at http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/make-change.cfm
Challenge the Narrative
The takeaway from the day is that we have to work harder. We need to challenge the prevailing and wrong-headed narrative dominating the public dialogue in some places and weighing down our public policy that everything starts and ends with the idea of an austerity agenda and the need to attack the deficit.
Mike Balkwill, one of the speakers at last week’s event, noted correctly that there is a lot of wealth in our country and in this province. And yet we go around talking about a “War on Poverty.” Maybe we should reframe our thinking, he suggested, and begin talking about making war on wealth. We’re not suggesting violent revolution here but rather developing a more aggressive advocacy agenda that recognizes that facts don’t win the day - power does.
This isn’t particularly new thinking. Community advocates with lived experience have said this for some time and those who make their living as advocates were reminded of this on Friday.
Perhaps we can all come together on the battle to save the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit and the related Discretionary Benefits program.
On some levels it is a very complicated issue that involves downloading, uploading, different government ministries, municipal housing plans etc...
But in many ways it really isn’t complicated. Put it in the context of a War on Wealth it should be pretty easy to find resources and develop programs so that all in our society get a fair shake.
Please take time to write or call your elected provincial representatives and tell them this program cut is just wrong. You’ll find a letter we sent earlier this year at http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/did-you-know.cfm
Season’s greetings and best wishes from the staff at the Clinic.