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MEDIA RELEASE: Most Sudbury Mayoral Candidates Fail Anti-Poverty Survey

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

For Immediate Release – October 23, 2014 Contact S-CAP at 249-878-7227

S-CAP Election Statement

Fighting Poverty is a Sudbury Election issue but most candidates for mayor fail anti-poverty survey

[Update -- S-CAP received Dan Melanson’s response to our election survey today after our media statement had gone out. While he is supportive of some anti-poverty actions, he is quite opposed to others, and many of his answers are vague and not specific. He supports calling on the province to reinstate the CSUMB program and will look into finding funding to have CSUMB rates and policies for municipal CHPI funding. On the Out of the Cold winter shelter he seems supportive but his answer is short and therefore very vague. He makes no commitment to acting to create more affordable housing. He is opposed to a Homeless Memorial. On ending the restrictive reviews for Handi Transit users he seems supportive but again the answer is vague and not specific, and he supports consulting with people living in poverty.  He does not clearly oppose the ticketing of panhandlers, and is opposed to the raising of the minimum wage to $14 an hour.]

Despite poverty increasingly becoming a municipal issue most candidates for mayor have given vague, incomplete and sometimes negative responses to, or have not even bothered responding to, a survey the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) has been distributing since the middle of September. “It is a shame that Dan Melanson, and Richard Majkot, have not even taken the time to respond. While John Rodriguez’s responses to questions at all-candidates meetings have been better than most he has also failed so far to respond to the survey. The needs and concerns of people living in poverty must instead be a priority in this election” said Christy Knockleby of S-CAP.  

Fighting poverty has always been a municipal issue but it has become even more of a city issue as various levels of government ‘download’ responsibilities for addressing the needs of poor and homeless people to municipalities. In Ontario the Harris government transferred the administration of Ontario Works to municipalities and most recently the Liberal government abolished the vital Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) and transferred a smaller amount of funding to the municipally administered Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI). The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) has been making anti-poverty action an election issue through a candidate survey, information distribution, and raising questions at all candidates meetings.

Below we quickly go through the questions we asked and the responses we received from five of the mayoralty candidates. But first some general remarks. Brian Bigger was generally not very supportive, often opposed and often only answered parts of the questions he was asked.  Jeanne Brohart was the least supportive and did not really support any anti-poverty action initiatives. Jean-Raymond Audet was quite supportive but very vague in his responses. “In general the candidates most committed to imposing the politics of austerity on the City through budget cuts to services were the most opposed to anti-poverty action,” said Gary Kinsman of S-CAP. Here are the questions the candidates were asked.  

·         Do they support the reinstatement of the provincial CSUMB program?  Both Ron Dupuis and Jeff Huska support this.

·         Until that program is restored do they support maintaining CHPI funding and policies at the same level as under the CSUMB? Ron Dupuis and Jeff Huska’s answers here were vague, while Brian Bigger seemed opposed.  

·         Do they support maintaining and improving the Out of the Cold emergency homeless shelter in the winter months?  Here Ron Dupuis and Jeff Huska said yes while Brian Bigger said only that he wanted to learn more about the homelessness situation.  

·         Do they support a Homeless Memorial so that those who die on the streets are remembered with respect and dignity?  Jeff  Huska was supportive, Ron Dupuis had questions and Brian Bigger was ok if other people did it but not the City.

·         Do they support the expansion of quality affordable housing in Sudbury? Jeff  Huska was supportive, while Ron Dupuis and Brian Bigger had questions.  

·         Do they support access for those who need it to Handi-Transit and therefore oppose the current restrictive review process which is denying people access?  Jeff Huska was supportive, as was Ron Dupuis with questions, while Brian Bigger was unclear with questions.

·         Do they support panhandling as a survival strategy for homeless people and people living in poverty and therefore oppose the ticketing and fining of people panhandling?  Ron Dupuis did not respond to this; while Jeff  Huska had questions.

·         Will they work against stigmatizing people living in poverty? Ron Dupuis said yes, as did Brian Bigger with questions. Jeff Huska also had questions.

·         Will they ensure that people living in poverty participate in and are consulted in all decisions relating to programs and services affecting people living in poverty?  Jeff Huska, Ron Dupuis and Brian Bigger all said yes.

·         Given the large number of low-income workers in Sudbury do they support calling on the province to raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour and indexing it to the cost of living? Ron Dupuis supported indexing but not an increase to $14 an hour, while Jeff Huska and Brian Bigger raised concerns and questions.

For more information on the survey and the responses go to http://sudburycap.com/2014/09/23/index-responses-survey/

“Regardless of who is elected S-CAP will continue to fight on a daily basis to support people living in poverty. First up is making sure that the CHPI program maintains funding and policies at the same level as under the provincial CSUMB program and maintaining and extending the Out of the Cold Emergency Homeless Shelter this winter,” said Gary Kinsman of S-CAP.

S-CAP can be contacted at: 249-878-7227, Email at sudburyCAP@gmail.com, Website http://sudburycap.com/

 

 


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