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MEDIA RELEASE: Fighting Poverty is a Sudbury Election Issue

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Oct. 14, 2014 -- For Immediate Release

Contact: S-CAP at 249-878-7227

Fighting Poverty is a Sudbury Election Issue
 
The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) sent a survey out to all municipal candidates in mid-September, asking candidates poverty related questions. Only fifteen out of seventy candidates have responded so far and it is a shame that more candidates are not taking anti-poverty action seriously. "The survey was apparently lost in many people's email. Even some who sent an initial confirmation that they had received it later claimed never to have seen the survey," says Christy Knockleby, a member of S-CAP. "We're still asking for and expecting more responses." Still many of the responses were positive, particularly regarding the possibility of setting up a memorial for the homeless who have died on city streets and the need to improve access to the the handi-transit system. Responses can be found at http://sudburycap.com/

Questions around raising the minimum wage had a more mixed response. S-CAP asked if candidates would, as mayor or councilor, assist in lobbying the province to increase the minimum wage to $14 an hour and i indexed to the cost of inflation. $14 would put allow a single person working full time on minimum wage to earn slightly above the poverty level. A few of the candidates came out firmly in support of a $14 minimum wage. These include Robert McCarthy (ward 12), Hannu Piironen (ward 10), Mila Wong (ward 10) and Matt Alexander (ward 1) and mayoral candidate Jean-Raymond Audet. Kerry Latham (ward 8) argued strongly against such an increase. In between was a range of support and vague political comments. While some candidates expressed doubt about the effectiveness of municipal lobbying and suggested their own additional ideas. Robert Kirwan (ward 5) proposed alternative initiatives such as "providing low-income workers with free transit passes; subsidized day care; free access to municipal recreational facilities; and free admission to municipal sponsored special events."

Another of the issues on the survey is the need for increased funding for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initative (CHPI), a replacement program after the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) was cut by the Provincial government at the end of 2012. CSUMB was a mandatory benefit available for people on social assistance to access funds in order to pay for moving costs, furniture, and other things associated with maintaining a residence, or to escape violence and in emergency situations. CHPI is a program that the municipalities are in charge of running with a more limited amount of funding from the province. Some municipalities are defining the criteria of CHPI very narrowly, while others are topping up the amount of money available for CHPI so that they can provide the same level of assistance as used to be provided under the CSUMB. In Sudbury there have been problems with people on OW and ODSP accessing adequate funds for household necessities that would have been covered under the CSUMB. Candidates were asked if they would support lobbying for the reinstatement of CSUMB, and in the meantime topping up the amount available for CHPI.

Many of the candidates seemed to recognize the importance of maintaining CHPI with the same finding levels and policies as under the CSUMB. Hannu Piironen wrote "I believe that the most vulnerable people in our community should not have to bear the burden of provincial cut-backs." Mila Wong wrote: "I support and will work towards the reinstatement of the CSUMB. The CHPI has a narrower mandate, inflexible in its mandate and will not meet people's needs. In the meantime that we work towards CSUMB reinstatement, this municipality can follow what other municipalities have done to top up CHPI to the level of CSUMB." Meanwhile Lynne Reynolds (ward 11) dismissed it as a provincial issue and mayoral candidate Jeanne Brohart expressed her disapproval.

The municipal candidates survey is only one small part of S-CAP's current activity. S-CAP will be hosting a march and rally on Thursday October 16th as part of  the Raise the Rates Campaign. The Raise the Rates Campaign is a province-wide campaign calling for the government to increase rates for social assistance (OW & ODSP) as well as the minimum wage and to reinstate the CSUMB. The rally will start with a free meal at 1:30 in Memorial Park.


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About the Sudbury Working Group

The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was formed to create independent media in the North, to speak to our issues and outlooks on our communities as well as the world around us. Independent media provides an avenue for people who are wishing to gain critical perspective on the issues that matter most to us, and to give a voice to those people and stories that you won't find in the mainstream media.

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