All Party Committee Pre-Budget Consultation in Kitchener

Jan 14 2014

Pre-budget consultations are underway across Ontario. Standing Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs and the Ministry of Finance are visiting the Region and opening discussions about the investment needed from both the local and the provincial perspective. The Fair Society has to remain one of the priorities in the 2014 Budget, not only to reduce reliance on social services, build the workforce and strengthen Ontario's economy (2013 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review), but to make life livable for so many hard working Ontarians, in and outside of the labour force.
PFKW pre-budget consultation presentation
Read more about the presentations made by the Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo and the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo to the Standing Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs on January 13th 2014.

Citizen involvement in social and political life of their community is more than volunteering. It is a building block of a strong society and strong economy for all. Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group is an example of individuals and groups working to create a political climate in which all people in Ontario would be recognized for their contributions and receive recognition regardless of different abilities to participate in the work force in its traditional definition.

In its November Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review 2013 "Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy", the Ministry of Finance lays out the investment in Fair Society, one of the government priorities as:

"Ontario’s economy is strengthened when everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. 
Strategic investments in education, health and income support help reduce reliance on social services, 
build the workforce and strengthen Ontario’s economy. 

...Social assistance reform that helps remove barriers to employment can make a meaningful and lasting 
improvement in economic well‐being."

While 200$ monthly earnings exemption for people on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program encourages transition toward stable employment,

*Still we do not believe that everyone is able to work in the current labour market; Insisting on employment as the solution for poverty is not recognizing that as much as labour standards and income security are being eroded, the health conditions and life expectancy of the population are being negatively impacted.

*Different Ministries and levels of government have to work together if we want to help people find and keep decent work, or access disability support programs with dignity and respect

*Austerity is not the way to set budgets in Ontario. Investment is needed in public services and the income security system, which are most needed in times of growing economic and social inequality;

*There should be no further partial changes to the social assistance system, while the Province is working toward a high level vision and an implementation plan for its new Poverty Reduction Strategy.

*The way to set Province’s budget should be to raise everyone from deep poverty or working poverty by setting decent social assistance rates and the minimum wage;

*Different Ministries and levels of government have to work together if we want to help people find and keep decent work, or access disability support programs with dignity and respect

*We believe the government has to keep honest and ongoing conversation with people from all social groups and do it in a more meaningful and accessible ways.

Read the full submission of the Poverty-Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group

From the Social Planning Council submission to the all party committee on January 13th:

It is a fact that OW and ODSP benefit levels are way below the level of deep poverty. Income redistribution programs reduce poverty levels. Tax investment to increase income security is fair and appropriate and the ONLY way to create prosperity on Ontario.

Please do not buy in to the myths that somehow those in this situation prefer to be poor or are able to work but are just too lazy to do so. Wrong. Do not assume that everyone can be competitive in the marketplace – there are real limitations that people face with few environments able to support their contribution in a competitive market sense.

We need to understand that income supports are essential to prosperity; every dollar provided for income assistance is spent directly in our local economy.

Read the full submission of the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo

PFKWPreBudgetSubmission_SCEFA_Jan13_2014.pdf511.5 KB
Presentation to Pre-Budget Jan13.pdf278.33 KB