OCAP Not Participating in Sham Consultations: Minister Matthews lies to legitimize secret ‘poverty meetings’

June 13, 2008

This is the latest News Release by OCAP about the sham Deb Matthews consultations on poverty that are taking place throughout Ontario. Poverty is increasing at an alarming rate, yet the McGuinty government is holding ‘consultations’: reviewing “how to best organize the current system of supports to ensure effective investment and more efficient administration.”

Sounds like a more time and money-wasting publicity campaign, to make it seem as if they are actually doing something, methinks… They’re still trying to get a ‘definition’ of poverty, for chrissake! Haven’t we been down that road many times before? What is there to define about poverty? All they have to do is ask the poor: the working poor who must choose between paying rent or buying food; the disabled subsisting on ODSP/OW rates that haven’t been adjusted for inflation for decades; the struggling single mother who can’t afford childcare and decent food; the senior whose meagre pension doesn’t allow him/her to turn the heat on in winter; the destitute soul with mental health problems housed in fleabag firetrap motels; the homeless person exposed to thugs and the elements; the children and adults on native reserves (Kashechewan, etc.) who are sickened by tainted water, toxic soil and mouldy housing; and so on and on… Go out into the real community, instead of holding sanitized invitation-only ’round-table discussions’ where real questions, suggestions, input and ideas are eschewed — and ASK! They’ll give Ms Matthews the ‘definition of poverty’, if indeed she lives in such a bubble that she does not know what POVERTY is. The time for these meaningless consultations has long passed. With the worsening economic situation poverty and homelessness will rise. We need action, not consultation!

A good start would be raising the minimum wage to at least $10/hour NOW! Raise the rates for ODSP/OW by 40%! Instead of giving millions to big corporations (like GM who then proceed to lay off workers anyway) use the taxpayer’s money to build affordable housing. Listen to the people on native reserves and fix the deplorable conditions that they must endure. Do something constructive, something real and start now! Not next year, or the year thereafter, but NOW!

OCAP Not Participating in Sham Consultations: Minister Matthews lies to legitimize secret ‘poverty meetings’

June 11, 2008 – Yesterday, during an interview with CBC’s Metro Morning, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, Deb Mathews, claimed the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty was invited to and attended a secret poverty consultation.

In reality, these meetings have been designed expressly to avoid interacting with anti-poverty groups like OCAP and with poor people in general. OCAP has never received an invitation to attend these private consultations. These meetings make no attempt to address systemic poverty in this province, rather they seek to allay the public’s concerns “within existing resources.”

“We don’t need to waste our time in secret consultations. We need a government that is actually going to do something about poverty,” says A.J. Withers, an OCAP Organizer. “We know what the problems are. Welfare and disability rates are too low, we need a livable minimum wage now, we need more affordable housing and we need the housing we do have to be in decent repair.”

The Liberal government would like the public to believe it will make real and substantial changes in people’s lives. Instead, this government continues to quietly chip away at crucial money and services. “While they talk about reducing poverty, the Liberals continue to let welfare and disability rates lose ground to inflation. They slashed the Special Diet supplement that let thousands of people eat healthier food, and they introduced the confusing Ontario Child Benefit that means parents probably won’t be able to buy coats for heir kids this winter,” says John Clarke of OCAP. “This is not a government that actually cares about poor people, it is a government trying to get political capital by talking a lot about us, but doing nothing for us,” Clarke says.

While Matthews is a liar, she was right about one thing: there have been protesters outside of her sham consultations, in cities all across Ontario. This month, in Toronto, we plan to be among them.