Guest Blog: Let’s vote for a poverty free Ontario

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My name is Michael Hackbush and I have the great privilege to work for House of Friendship as Chaplaincy Director. The privileges are many but one in particular is to invite people to love and care for their neighbours by getting to know House of Friendship better. By extension, getting to know House of Friendship is getting to know the wonderful people with whom we have the privilege to serve.

Reading the posts on this blog is indeed eye opening and heart rending.While I find here incredible resilience of the human spirit, one cannot help but ask: “Why do we have such disparity between those of wealth and those without? Why such a gap, in such a wealthy nation as Canada, in a province that is by and far the engine of the nation’s economy?”

As this is election time, and as one who is passionate about these concerns and the many others shared through this blog I need to ask, why are these questions not being reflected in the platforms of the parties seeking our vote? Fortunately I’m not alone.

There are a couple of organizations working to keep these questions before the public and candidates leading up to Ontario’s election on October 6th. Perhaps you’ve see the black and white lawn signs in your neighbourhood that read, “Let’s Vote for a Poverty Free ONTARIO”?

Poverty Free Ontario(PFO) is a campaign of the Social Planning Network of Ontario and is fully endorsed and supported by the similar campaign Faith to End Poverty

Both of these campaigns seek to uncover what is known as ‘deep poverty’, that is, the policies and processes that prevent people from earning real incomes or finding meaningful work with decent pay. I invite you to get to know some of the issues and policies that effect person’s with low incomes. Please visit: www.povertyfreeontario.ca

The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) is an interfaith coalition that for 25 years has heard our neighbours’ voices and addresses Members of Provincial Parliament in advocating for change, most recently with the publication Persistent Poverty: Voices from the Margins. In a collaborative effort ISARC is working with Poverty Free Ontario in promoting the conversation. For communities of faith please visit: www.faithtoendpoverty.ca

In 2009 all parties in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (Queen’s Park) voted unanimously for the poverty reduction act. This law in Ontario states that successive governments review and act toward reducing child poverty by 25% in 5 years. It sets out specific targets and timelines. Yet as a public we have heard little to nothing in this regard. It is an issue falling below the radar of many.

I invite you and those whom you know and serve to help in keeping poverty reduction, or better yet, poverty eradication on the agenda of our communities and candidates. Let’s keep the conversation alive. And on Thursday, October 6th, don’t forget to vote for a poverty free Ontario.

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