Deborah O’Connor of the Northumberland Coalition Against Poverty organized a rally outside the office of MP David Piccini today to protest changes by the Doug Ford government. The newly elected Provincial government recently announced that after 100 days of consultation, it will come up with a strategy to break the cycle of poverty and get people working. A first step is that the Wynn government’s plan to increase social assistance rates by 3% in September will be cut to 1.5% and the 4000 participants on the basic income pilot project will revert to the same welfare arrangements as everyone else. But Deborah supports the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty which says that even the 3% was “woefully inadequate” and below the rate of inflation, that canceling the pilot a year after it was underway “demonstrates a reckless disregard for the lives of nearly 4000 people on the pilot who planned their lives on the assurance of having a set income for 3 years” and the “sweeping changes to social assistance that are being ominously hinted at are likely to be the same brand of ruthless right-wing reforms we saw under Mike Harris.”
Also participating in the rally is the recently formed Northumberland Coalition for Social Justice.
There were about 25 people at the rally when I got there around 4:00pm – most people had signs but it was quite peaceful. At right is a photo of what it looked like and below are photos of the organizers – the indefatigable Deborah O’Connor of the Northumberland Coalition Against Poverty and co-founders of the Northumberland Coalition for Social Justice Derek Blackadder and Kim MacArther Jackson. Another recognizable face was Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas. The media were there but no police although they were not needed.
Valerie MacDonald at Cobourg Now network reported that:
MPP David Piccini would not be attending the protest but will meet with them a week later [Deb said she will meet him at 3:00 pm next Friday]. He said that “the Liberal’s approach wasn’t working and there are about 1-million people on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program,” and that “Of those receiving support, 70% go back onto those financial assistance programs eventually, and 90% of that number within a year. That tells me the system isn’t working. There is a systemic problem and a culture of dependency, and the new plan will work to get people ‘truly back to work’ while supporting those that truly need it. We’re going to get it right.”
Northumberland Coalition for Social Justice – Facebook