Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

January 25, 2013 12:30 ET

Next Liberal leader must raise social assistance rates & stop making poverty worse

Anti-poverty fight heats up as hundreds prepare to march on Liberals

MARKHAM, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 25, 2013) - The fight against the Liberal record of making poverty worse in Ontario gets a little hotter tomorrow as hundreds of anti-poverty activists prepare to march in the Raise the Rates campaign led by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, in support of the #j26rally organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour outside the Liberal convention.

"No matter which candidate wins the leadership race, poor people in Ontario will still be on the losing end of Liberal policy," said Liisa Schofield of OCAP. "Since the Liberals were elected, they have not just failed to reverse Harris' cuts, they have made further devastating cuts to social assistance, housing and other vital services. Poor people and our allies have been fighting this austerity agenda every step of the way. On Saturday, we rally to show the next premier that we will not back down."

Schofield made her remarks as hundreds gathered under the "Raise the Rates" campaign, led by community groups and labour unions. A Raise the Rates anti-poverty rally and "feeder" march will mobilize from Moss Park tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 26 at 12:00 PM. It will join the OFL demonstration in a massive show of force against the Liberal government's cuts to public services and suspension of democratic rights.

"People in Ontario will not forget and they will not sit idly by as the Liberal government makes poverty worse and trashes the democratic and collective bargaining rights of workers, teachers, students and citizens," said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of CUPE Ontario's Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee. "The next Liberal leader must raise social assistance rates and fully restore the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB), recently cancelled by the Liberals. Poverty will only get worse under a patchwork of uneven municipal programs. We need leadership and action on poverty across this province."

The CSUMB helps over 16,000 people every month in Ontario and is one of the only ways that people on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program can cover the costs of moving, save their housing and obtain the basic items they need to maintain a home. It is a defence against homelessness and a means by which many women are able to leave situations of domestic violence. Cancelling the CSUMB is a decision that will likely come back to haunt the Liberals in a likely election year, Schofield said.

"The Liberal government's last budget brought a number of regressive cuts to social assistance, including the CSUMB," Schofield said. "But public pressure forced the government recently to release some temporary funding for municipal anti-homelessness programs. This only encourages us to step up our campaign."

Contact Information

  • Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
    Liisa Schofield
    416 899 6445

    CUPE Ontario
    Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam
    Chair, Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee
    613 864 1061

    CUPE Ontario
    David Robbins
    613 878 1431