Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

October 15, 2013 15:21 ET

MEDIA ADVISORY: Local, provincial anti-poverty groups to rally in Kingston, call on government to "Raise the Rates"

KINGSTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 15, 2013) - Fed up with rising poverty and government inaction, the Raise the Rates campaign will hold a rally outside the Ontario Works building on Montreal Street in Kingston tomorrow.

"Poverty is getting worse in Ontario, and government policy is making it worse," says Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario's social service workers coordinating committee. "Social assistance rates need to go up by 55 percent just to catch up to where they were before the Harris government cuts. The Liberals are not just leaving people in poverty; they're making it harder to get out by cutting programs like the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB)."

CUPE Ontario, PSAC Ontario and several anti-poverty groups are partners in the Raise the Rates Campaign. The rally tomorrow in Kingston is part of a week of action around the province calling for an immediate 55 percent increase in social assistance rates, restoration of the CSUMB, maintaining separate Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support programs, and raising the minimum wage to $14.

The week of action will culminate with a provincial "convergence" in Sudbury on Saturday.

"Across the province, people are fed up. We've had endless consultations. The government has spent years talking about poverty," says Liisa Schofield, spokesperson for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. "Premier Wynne needs to actually do something to help the 1.5 million Ontarians struggling to get by on stagnant social assistance rates and in increasingly precarious work at a minimum wage that doesn't even let a person live at the poverty line. Otherwise her only legacy as the 'consultation premier' will be more poverty."

Anti-poverty groups are boycotting the Wynne government's latest consultations on social assistance in Ontario. These follow another round of consultations last year, which resulted in the Lankin/Sheikh report.

"What a disappointment that we have to be here again," says Aimee Van Vlack, spokesperson for the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty. "Once again, government austerity is targeting the most vulnerable people in our community. Now our provincial Liberals are trying to take the heat off themselves by merging OW and ODSP and downloading them to municipalities. We refuse to allow this to affect our communities, and for them to pit the sick against the poor. We will fight until the Liberals have done what's right for the people of our province."

What: Raise the Rates Campaign Rally
Who: Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair, CUPE Ontario Social Services Workers' Coordinating Committee
Liisa Schofield, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Aimee Van Vlack, Kingston Coalition Against Poverty
When: Wednesday October 16th at 12:00 noon
Where: 362 Montreal St. Kingston, ON

CUPE is Ontario's community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

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