This video presents “DearMrPremiertrailer”:

  • Put Food in the Budget – Introducing our new trailer for the campaign we have all been working so hard on!
  • Stay tuned for the longer versions later and we hope to see you at our event on Sept 28th!

Put Food in the Budget Campaign Meeting

Friday, September 28, 2012

Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto

 11:30 am – 4:30 pm

The Put Food in the Budget campaign began in January 2009 in response to Premier McGuinty’s decision to exclude an increase in social assistance rates for adults in Ontario from his poverty reduction strategy.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign has had two demands since its formation in January 2009:

  • an interim demand of a $100 a month increase for every adult in Ontario who receives social assistance
  • a long term demand of social assistance rates set at a level that ensures health and dignity

Changing political landscape

  • Premier McGuinty introduced an ‘austerity’ budget, in the spring, which will increase poverty and income inequality in Ontario
  • The Social Assistance Review Commission will release its final report in September
  • December 8, 2012 will be the fourth anniversary of Premier McGuinty’s poverty reduction strategy.

New Directions

The Put Food in the Budget campaign is bringing members and allies together to discuss new directions in response to the new political landscape. Consultations have been held from April to August with people who receive social assistance and with their allies in communities across Ontario. The steering committee of Put Food in the Budget will be bringing draft proposals for new campaign directions, (based on the recent consultations), for discussion and commitment.

ALSO – Public premiere of video of people in communities across Ontario telling Premier McGuinty how they feel and what they think about his austerity budget.

Celebration and fund-raiser at 8:00 pm, in the same evening, at Waterfalls restaurant – 303 Augusta Ave, Kensington Market with spoken word artists Ritallin, Britta B., stand-up comic Anto Chan plus musical group ‘Banter’.

Background Information:

Four years ago Premier McGuinty promised a strategy to reduce poverty in Ontario.

Since then Premier McGuinty has:

  • Effectively cut social assistance rates — with rate increases lower than the rate of inflation
  • Increased the Ontario Child Benefit once — and then cancelled additional promised increases
  • Cancelled the Special Diet Allowance — and then restored it in response to a broad-based protest
  • Cut corporate taxes — unnecessarily increasing the size of the provincial deficit
  • Introduced an ‘austerity budget’ that cancels the Community Start Up Benefit, and threatens to reduce spending on social assistance and vital community and public services

Put Food in the Budget Campaign Initiatives during the last four years:

1. Do the Math survey
10,000 people in Ontario put themselves in the shoes of a single person on social assistance and calculated they would require a minimum monthly income of $1,500 to ensure a life of health and dignity. MPPs from all three parties who completed the same survey said a minimum monthly income of $1,340 is required.

2.  Do the Math challenge
1,000 people in 26 communities across Ontario live on a ‘food bank diet’ for one week and tell friends, family, co-workers and media how difficult it is.

3. Municipalities in Ontario pass a resolution to support a social assistance rate increase
Twenty-eight municipalities (representing more than four million people) endorse the demand for an immediate $100-a-month increase in social assistance.

4. Valentines for Finance Minister Dwight Duncan
More than 2,000 people send Valentines to Dwight Duncan supporting an increase in social assistance — and Valentine’s Day demonstrations force him to meet campaign leaders.

5. Challenged Campbell’s Nourish campaign
Campbell’s re-thinks the public launch of their ‘Nourish’ soup distribution in Ontario in response to our protest.

6. Christmas cards for Premier McGuinty
Thousands of people in Ontario send a Xmas card to Premier McGuinty telling him to stop stuffing the stockings of his big business friends – contributing to the public opinion that supported cancellation of the corporate tax holiday in the 2012 Ontario budget.

7. ‘Dear Mr. Premier’ consultation tour
People in 25 communities in Ontario tell a life-size mannequin of Premier McGuinty what they think of his austerity budget.

Put Food in the Budget Campaign Plan 2012-2013

The leadership of the Put Food in the Budget campaign travelled to communities across Ontario in the spring and summer of 2012 and asked people with low incomes what needs to be done to raise social assistance rates in Ontario. The leadership of the Put Food in the Budget campaign developed the following demands through this community consultation.

Campaign Demands

People face rising costs for housing, food, electricity, gas and other necessities. The austerity measures proposed by Premier McGuinty’s government mean people with low incomes will now have to make even more difficult choices between paying the rent, feeding their families, and taking care of their own health.

The Put Food in the Budget Campaign demands that Premier McGuinty and the government of Ontario:

  1. Raise social assistance rates
  2. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage
  3. Invest in public and community services
  4. Make corporations and the very rich pay their fair share of taxes

Campaign Initiatives

Through community consultation, the Put Food in the Budget campaign developed six initiatives in support of its demands. Campaign activities are being planned to carry out these strategies:

1. Hold Premier McGuinty accountable for poverty in Ontario

Premier Dalton McGuinty must be held accountable to a poverty reduction strategy that ensures that everyone in Ontario who receives social assistance has an income that ensures a life of health and dignity.

‘Dear Mr. Premier’ is a video statement from people across Ontario that describes an ‘austerity’ that is unacceptable in a province as wealthy as Ontario. See the video here:

Please contact your local MPP and Premier McGuinty. Tell them that poverty is unacceptable in a province as wealthy as Ontario, and demand action.

2. Defend the rights and dignity of people who receive social assistance

The worst thing is the stigma people apply to you when you are poor. People told numerous stories of humiliating treatment of people by some food bank administrators, some school administrators, some social service administrators and some media representatives.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign will support advocacy by people who assert their rights and who demand to be treated with respect and dignity.

3. Challenge food charity

Food banks are not supposed to be the grocery stores of the poor, and meal programs are not meant to be the restaurants of the poor. People with low incomes said they want justice, not charity. The Put Food in the Budget campaign will support activities that challenge the food charity initiatives of corporations and the media.

4 Challenge income inequality

Income inequality in Ontario is not an accident, it’s part of an intentional strategy to make the rich richer… and the poor poorer. People said they want to ‘change the channel’— the poverty ‘problem’ is not the people. The problem is employers that don’t provide full-time work with living wages and benefits.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign will support activities that shift the focus of ‘poverty reduction’ to the economic and labour market policies that create and sustain poverty.

5. Make poverty visible

Some members of the public don’t believe there is poverty in their communities because they do not see it, and some community service providers co-operate in keeping poverty invisible.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign will challenge its allies:

  • to engage and mobilize their members and communities in public demands for social justice,
  • to support the people with low incomes who use their services in finding appropriate ways to make poverty visible in their community

6. Maintain hope

The social forces that oppose social justice are significant— including opposition to social assistance rates that ensure a life of health and dignity for people in Ontario with low incomes.

These social forces can cause fear and hopelessness in us. There are also many people who yearn for a more just society, who are engaged in many ways in the struggle for social justice in Ontario. The continued commitment of these people is a source of courage and power and hope.

Our challenge to ourselves is:

  • to maintain hope in the face of opposition
  • to build an inclusive campaign that harnesses the power of people in communities across Ontario who demand incomes that ensure a life of health and dignity for all
  • to keep our eyes on the prize—and hold on—as long as it takes

Put Food in the Budget Campaign Meeting

Friday September 28, 2012

REGISTRATION FEE:
NO FEE for members of Put Food in the Budget campaign with low incomes
$ 80.00 for participants from allied organizations (includes lunch).

AGENDA

  • 11:00 Registration
  • 11:30 Lunch
  • 12:30 The new political landscape (presentation and discussion)
  • 1:00 What will it take to create the political will to increase income equality in Ontario? (Discussion)Put Food in the Budget Campaign – New Directions (Presentation and discussion)
  •  2:15 Video Presentation: Premier McGuinty Mannequin Tour
  • 2:45 Workshop Discussions (small group discussions)
  • 4:00 Closing Plenary
  • 4:30 Adjourn
  • 5:30 Dinner at Waterfalls restaurant in Kensington market
  • 8:00 Celebration and Fund-raising event – Waterfalls restaurant, 303 Augusta Ave, Toronto
    • Admission to fund-raiser for Put Food in the Budget members is being sponsored by CUPE 4400

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