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MEDIA RELEASE: S-CAP 11 Statement – “We Would Do It Again to Support People Living in Poverty”

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S-CAP 11 Statement – “We Would Do It Again to Support People Living in Poverty”

First of all we thank Don Kuyek, our pro bono lawyer, for all his work and support. At a time when many lawyers serve wealth and privilege it is crucial that there are lawyers like Don in our community who remain committed to social justice.

We have accepted a diversion arrangement which extinguishes the charges of trespassing against us. It is no longer politically useful for us to proceed with a trial given that Rick Bartolucci is no longer a Liberal Cabinet Minister or even an MPP. Our time and energy is better spent in the daily work of struggling against poverty and for social justice.

We engaged in the creation of a mock emergency homeless shelter in at that time Cabinet Minister Rick Bartolucci’s constituency office on Nov. 9, 2012 to dramatize what the Liberal government cut of the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) would lead to. This was after Bartolucci refused to even respond to the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty’s (S-CAP) earlier deputation calling for defence of the CSUMB. The CSUMB was a vital support for people on social assistance allowing them to move, avoid homelessness, establish a home, get essential beds, appliances and furniture, to flee violence and abuse and to set themselves up after leaving an institution.  The ending of the CSUMB, which was replaced by the municipally administered Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) with less funding, despite Bartolucci’s claim that this would provide “more bang for your buck,” has created major problems for people living in poverty across the province. This includes a patchwork of different programs in different municipalities where people get different levels of support depending on where they live. In Sudbury, S-CAP has had to wage a consistent struggle with Ontario Works and City officials, to ensure that people’s needs are met under the more limited CHPI program. We continue to call for the immediate reinstatement of the needed provincial CSUMB program.

Our action on Nov. 9th 2012 was not an isolated event. It was part of a wave of protest across the province against the cut of the CSUMB with actions taking place in Kitchener, Toronto, Sault-Ste Marie, Kingston, Ottawa, Windsor and many other locations. Our action in Bartolucci’s office, and the resulting police response and arrests, drew far more public attention to the cut to the CSUMB than existed before that. Our action, combined with this province-wide mobilization, was effective in getting the Liberal government to put an extra $42 million into the CHPI funds across the province. While this was not the reinstating of the CSUMB we hoped for it did allow for meeting more of the needs of people living in poverty. This $42 million has again been put into the CHPI funding for the next year as a continuing legacy of this struggle.

We judge our action on Nov.  9, 2012 to have been highly successful and this is why we state very clearly that in similar circumstances we would engage in the same type of civil disobedience action against an unresponsive politician.  Civil disobedience against attacks on people living in poverty is something that will continue and that we will continue to engage in.

The struggle to reinstate the CSUMB continues and the S-CAP 11 will be joining with the Raise the Rates campaign on Thursday, October  16th in a march to the Provincial Building to demand the reinstatement of the CSUMB. The event that day starts at 1:30 pm with a free meal in Memorial Park to be followed by a rally and march. We hope you will all join with us.

As part of this diversion arrangement S-CAP has donated $500 to the United Way.  S-CAP as an all volunteer organization survives on a tiny budget and this has taken up a considerable portion of our funds. But the struggle against poverty continues and needs to be funded. We urge people to donate to S-CAP so that important support and campaign work against poverty can continue. S-CAP uses the Sudbury Against War and Occupation (SAWO) bank account and cheques can be sent to S-CAP at the Sudbury and District Labour Council 109 Elm St, Suite 209, Sudbury, ON P3C 1T4 and made out to SAWO with S-CAP in the subject line.

When we were in his office Bartolucci called us “rabble-rousers.” He meant this in a dismissive fashion trying to undermine what we were doing. It also suggests a disdain for poor and working people -- who were once referred to by the elite as the ‘rabble.’  But in a very, very different sense we continue to commit ourselves to trying to rouse the ‘rabble’  -- workers and the poor --  in the struggle against poverty and for social justice.

The struggle continues!

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