This is the time of year when we all have innumerable things to do and meetings to attend before summer time. The exciting thing about poverty reduction is that so many people and groups are organizing, expressing their concerns, and pushing governments to actually do something to reduce poverty:
1) OCSJ ASSEMBLY MAY 10
FROM POVERTY TO ECONOMIC SECURITY
A Forum to Reduce Poverty in Ontario
Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
at USWA Hall, 25 Cecil St, Toronto
[south of College St., and 2 blocks west of subway stop at College &
Agenda highlights (more info to follow):
• Shine a light on poverty in the province
• Recommend ways to reduce poverty and increase social justice
• Learn about the Provincial Government’s plans for poverty
reduction — with Cheri DiNovo, MPP (Parkdale-High Park) and we have also
invited the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction to send a
• Mobilize for public input into the process
Open at no cost to all activists interested in social justice — labour,
student, aboriginal, women, ethno-racial, and other equity-seeking groups
2) ONTARIO GOVERNMENT & POVERTY REDUCTION
Deb Matthews, MPP (London North Centre), as Chair of Ontario’s Cabinet
Committee on Poverty Reduction, is clearly the committee’s public voice in
explaining its intentions about consulting people to develop
recommendations within this year to reduce poverty in the province. The
Minister spoke to very well attended meetings last week which were
organized by the 25 in 5 network and also by ISARC.
It was frustrating for community groups that the Cabinet Committee did not
take advantage of those highly publicized events to announce its
consultation schedule. However, we are assured that the schedule will be
3) LABOUR & COMMUNITY CONCERNS ABOUT POVERTY
One current dispute between aboriginals in Ontario and authorities in
Government concerns aboriginal land rights and their assumption that
consulting them is an elementary right before a mining company, for
example, uses lands that they claim belong to them.
In northwestern Ontario, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inniuwig (KI) aboriginals,
and around Sharbot Lake west of Ottawa, the Ardoch Algonquin aboriginals,
are opposing the drilling for minerals on their lands. Yet despite their
peaceful claims, leaders of the bands in each region have been sentenced
to six months in jail because of their public claims. Apparently, both
the Premier and the Ontario Attorney General (AG) have offered the
aboriginal leaders money to fight these disputes legally, but Mr. McGuinty
and Mr. Bryant each claim that they cannot interfere with a court process,
and so cannot order the aboriginal leaders’ release.
**CANADIAN AUTO WORKERS
The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) are initiating campaign schools to focus
on retaining jobs as part of the union’s campaign to help its members, but
as part of its strong belief that jobs, especially good jobs that offer
benefits to workers too, is one of the best ways to eradicate poverty. As
well, the CAW is encouraging municipalities to adopt a policy to buy
Canadian products for all public purchases as a further means of
protecting jobs in the province.
A series of schools began this past weekend for workers in St.
Catharine’s, Niagara Falls, Welland, Thorold, and Pelham in the Niagara
region, and schools will also be held in Kitchener-Waterloo on May 3, in
Windsor on May 10, and in Oshawa on May 24.
**COLLEGE PART-TIME WORKERS
The organizing by OPSEU staff among 12,500 part-time workers at community
colleges to join the union has been recognized at last by John Milloy, MPP
(Kitchener Centre), Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, &
Universities. The Minister said yesterday that the government plans to
introduce legislation this spring permitting the workers to gain
##The 25 in 5 forum on poverty reduction on April 14 attracted almost 500
activists who urged the Ontario Government to take serious action now on
reducing poverty. The network’s principles and actions are available at
Toronto’s social planning council website at
##The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) attracted a
further 100 activists from faith communities to urge the Government to
accomplish the same goal.
ISARC will be consulting local faith groups with whom they work to
organize meetings where people will be able to discuss how faith groups
can contribute to urging government action. Its tour is to be planned for
London, Hamilton, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay.
Minister Deb Matthews spoke at each of these forums, and stayed long
enough at each one to hear from a number of diverse activists, including
persons living in poverty, persons receiving each of Ontario Works and
Ontario Disability Support Program income.
##The Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) has been consulting with a
number of communities about co-operative action on urging government
action and will continue to do so in a location to be announced for
talking with Canadian Association of Community Living on April 24, in
Cambridge on April 25, in Cornwall on April 28, and in Ottawa on May 7.
Details, times, and contact information for these meetings can be found at
a new website initiated by the SPNO called Poverty Watch Ontario and
available at http://povertywatchontario.ca/
**ENVIRONMENT & WATER
##The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has renewed a permit granting a
unit of Nestle Canada Inc the right to continue extracting up to 3,600,000
litres of groundwater each day near Guelph to then sell as spring water.
This decision raises so many issues, like the token fees paid by a
transnational corporation to profit from water which may be needed by the
increasing population in the Guelph region, that it defies rational
belief! Local concerns can be read at the website of Wellington Water
Watchers at http://wellingtonwaterwatchers.wordpress.com/
##A much more positive decision for the health of students and staff at
schools in the Waterloo Region was taken by the District School Board
which has banned the sale of plastic bottles of water in its schools as of
**IMMIGRANTS / REFUGEES
##There are increasing numbers of unions and community groups which are
expressing their criticisms of the federal government’s proposed
amendments to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as
amounting to giving the Immigration Minister far too much power and
discretion about who and how many persons will be allowed to enter Canada.
The Canadian Arab Federation, the Chinese Canadian National Council, the
union UNITE HERE, and the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) are some
of the increasing numbers of critics.
One clear event that will attract many people is being organized by No One
Is Illegal for a rally on May 3, cited below in the events section.
##An excellent Federal Tax Court judgment was issued a few days ago in
B.C. whereby the judge criticized the widespread exploitation of migrant
agricultural workers as reminiscent of scenes from author John Steinbeck’s
The Grapes of Wrath. The determined work by the United Food & Commercial
Workers (UFCW) across the country, including in both Ontario and B.C., and
also the community activists from Justicia 4 Migrant Workers, will be able
to rely on this judgment for their advocacy for migrant workers from now
4) POVERTY: FOCUS OF COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT
Parliament’s HUMA Committee (Human Resources and Social Development) has
begun its study on a poverty plan for Canada. The committee plans 3 or 4
meetings to discuss an overview of poverty in Canada; 2 to 4 meetings to
compare poverty in Canada with that in countries like the U.K. and
Ireland, from which Canada may learn ideas which could be used here; and 6
to 10 meetings to discuss how the federal government can contribute to a
poverty reduction strategy in Canada.
To ask to appear, or to learn about submitting a written brief, contact
HUMA Committee clerk Jacques Mazaide, Room 6-37, 131 Queen Street, House
of Commons, Ottawa, Ont K1A 0A6, Tel: (613) 996-1542, Fax: (613) 992-1962,
or E-mail: HUMA@parl.gc.ca
An active M.P. from Ontario on the committee is Tony Martin, M.P. (Sault
Ste. Marie) assisted by Rick Prashaw, Tony’s Legislative Assistant,
available at MartiTo0@parl.gc.ca Information about the hearings is
available on Tony’s website
5) FAIR VOTE IN ONTARIO
The numerous supporters of a fairer voting system for Ontario, and for
other provinces, as well as for the federal level of government, are
rejuvenating the campaign in Ontario to stimulate public awareness of the
need for changing or reforming the voting system. Activists in Fair Vote
Ontario are interested in discussing their concerns in meetings and events
and are planning now to organize a major public forum next autumn to
highlight what is needed to be done to achieve change.
Information about these concerns, and also how to join others in your
neighbourhood to learn about and to support change, is available at
The Toronto & York Region Labour Council and its Equity Committee
is hosting the sixth Workers of Colour and Aboriginal Workers’ conference.
It starts at 9:00 a.m., costs $40 including lunch, and takes place at the
OFL building, 15 Gervais Dr. For information, contact Ana Fonseca at
firstname.lastname@example.org or at (416) 441-3663 x221.
No One Is Illegal is organizing a rally at 12:00 p.m. at Christie
Pits Park, across from the Christie subway stop in Toronto, to protest
unfair deportations of immigrants and refugees to Canada.
May 10 The OCSJ spring assembly and AGM will take place from 10:00 a.m.
till 4:00 p.m. in Toronto at the Steelworkers’ Hall at 25 Cecil St., near
the Queen’s Park subway stop. For information, contact John Argue at
email@example.com or (416) 441-3714.
The London and District Labour Council is hosting a joint activist
forum from 10:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m., in the common room of the Tolpuddle
Housing Co-op at 380 Adelaide St. N. The forum title is “Turning
globalization around with grass-roots activists”, with a Latin American
focus because of concerns in London about what’s happening in Colombia, in
particular, and incidentally, the city’s increasing Spanish-speaking
population. Information about the forum is available from (519) 645-3108.
John Argue, Co-ordinator
Ontario Coalition for Social Justice
15 Gervais Dr., #305
Toronto, Ont., M3C 1Y8