heeled uggs advocating social justice
Linda Karachi takes the opportunity at the Soup Kitchen to share her needs, during a visit to Sault Ste. Marie last week from the non profit Put Food in the Budget campaign. Her message and those of other local and Northern Ontario residents will go to Premier Kathleen Wynne. Toronto based Put Food in the Budget is on a fact finding mission in Northeastern Ontario to support its lobby of the provincial government and to assist local organizations in their individual actions against poverty.
Ali Pearson/Sault This Week
Mike Balkwill, provincial organizer of the Put Food in the Budget Campaign has travelled through Northern Ontario for the past two weeks, advocating for social justice and change.
He made a stop at the Soup Kitchen last week. He arrived in town to hear the voices of some of the city most marginalized citizens.
Staff said it was a slow day for the Soup Kitchen only 150 people stopped in for lunch.
Balkwill queries in each community he visits, is the person everyone knows is demanding action on poverty in Ontario?
challenges us to public and government action on poverty in the same way that Naomi Klein and David Suzuki challenge governments to act on climate change? told Sault This Week, question has been followed by a long silence in every community where I ask it. In Sault Ste. Marie everyone says Tony Martin, who founded the kitchen long before he ran for election.
He subsequently served many years as an NDP MPP in the Ontario legislature and then as the NDP MP in the House of Commons. He continues to stand out in the minds of Algoma residents as an advocate for social change, said Balkwill.
At the Soup Kitchen, he probed the differences between life in southern Ontario and in Northern Ontario, how the privatization of Hydro One has affected the poor, and issues around which local people have organized.
The group, for its part, wanted to know what it will take to make Premier Kathleen Wynne raise social assistance to a level that ensures people can live in health and dignity, and what Put Food in the Budget can do to support local organizers against poverty.
Ontario is different, acknowledged Balkwill, who promised a report will follow,
it not just about fact finding. It about learning and making relationships and drawing people into the campaign.
in the Sault have asked us to come back and present the findings of the report to City Council, and to help reinforce their demands for more affordable housing in Northern Ontario. Balkwill heard in the Sault and in other northern communities, he called unique to the region.
Food prices increase with the distance that food needs to be transported, for instance. Colder weather, for longer, increases hydro rates and in Northern Ontario more people depend on electric heat than on gas.
The effects worsen as you travel further north, Balkwill said.
opportunities are also different in the north. lot of northern communities have less work and the men leave to find work in Western Canada to support their families, he said.
was very surprised to learn that welfare administrators in Toronto give people bus tickets to go Elliot Lake and Sault Ste. Marie, Balkwill said.
is really on a basis of false promises. People might move because they think that they are going to have better housing options and, while more so in Elliot Lake the housing is cheaper, they don have the social network and they get into trouble.
is shameful that in a province as wealthy as Ontario people have to go to food banks and soup kitchens for food and this has been going on for 30 years, he said.
banks as a strategy to feed the poor is a failure. It a Band Aid not to criticize the volunteers at all it a terrific humanitarian effort, but really, after 30 years we have to admit that this is a failure. took aim at the provincial government.
Orazietti, the local MP, has not been responsive,
have talked to people here who have been trying to get a meeting with him to talk about the potential cut in the work related benefits for people on ODSP (the Ontario Disability Support Program) and he won even respond to their request for a meeting.
and Wynne have to do a lot more to live up to their credential as a social justice government. help make change Balkwill urged citizens to call their MPPs and MPs and tell them that Ontario shouldn still have food banks and that people must have enough money to pay for housing and to put food in their budgets.