Additional Budget Public Input Session January 9th

Dec 10 2012

Join the conversation on January 9th 2013 at 7pm, at the additional Waterloo Region Budget Public Input Session. Register your presentation before the Regional Council by January 3rd at noon.

Before you do, take a look at what some of the delegations were presenting at the last input session on December 5th that lasted from 6 pm until after 9 pm.

“If there had not been the announcement of proposed cuts to the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefits and the Ontario Works Discretionary Benefits, we would likely still have been coming to you to advocate for an increase in supports, because we are seeing an increase in the needs in our community.”
Catherine Savage Stewart, from the Kitchener-Waterloo Poverty Free Group delegation address (see attached)

A poem, a room full of youth, applause, food hampers, a bicycle and a call to raise the bar. It was quite an evening at the budget hearings on the evening of December 5th. For one, the chamber was full. At times people were standing in the back passage. If more people knew what experience was awaiting, there wouldn’t have be enough room for all of us.

As expected, the theme of the evening was the provincial government cuts and the difficult position of the Region in filling a shortfall of millions of dollars in funding. The most addressed issue among the delegations were cuts to the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit, and the Discretionary Benefits of the Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program. Many stories were told about the relief that these programs gave towards rent payments, furniture, moving costs, interpretation and health services. Applause was often heard in acknowledgement of difficult realities nobody can truly be protected from.

Then the food hampers started piling the middle of the room. Each hamper was smaller than the previous, showing a glimpse into a reality of diminishing funding. It was left to us to imagine what would happen if the trend continues...

The groups and coalitions that followed, spoke in one voice, one after another, about the needs in the community, greater that before. The message that the budget cannot be balanced by cutting off social assistance was clear. The provincial calculations are leaving municipalities without sufficient resources to fulfill their mandate, which reduces the options that agencies and community groups have to help people they serve, leaving the most vulnerable people with fewer options. The poem Heal the Pain by John Palmer was read. A call for dignity came with the bicycle wheeled in instead of a wheelchair. Finally, a resident called for a raise of his taxes as one solution to financing the discretionary benefits.

"For the service people, the benefits are discretionary; for the people who need them, they are necessary". Ontario communities are uniting to save the benefits for people on social assistance. This holiday season, we can share the gift for all the seasons, and advocate for Poverty Free Ontario.

Submitted by Aleksandra Petrovic

KWPovertyFreeBudgetPresentation_Dec5_2012.pdf80.32 KB