WEEK OF ACTION ON COMMUNITY START UP TAKES THE FIGHT TO A NEW LEVEL
Between December 7 – 14, 2012, actions were taken to defend the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit in local communities from Windsor to Ottawa to Sault Ste Marie. People demonstrated at or occupied the offices of Liberal MPPS, marched through the streets of their communities, held clinics to enable people to obtain the start up benefit and more For the most part, the Liberal MPPs hid from sight as this challenge to their brutal cutback unfolded in community after community.
The Week of Action, which was called by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), would not have been possible without the efforts of dozens of organizations and hundreds of people working together to make it possible.
GROWING SOLIDARITY WITH UNIONS: The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Ontario) has worked with OCAP for three years now on the Raise the Rates Campaign that created the basis for this challenge to the CSUMB cut. CUPE continued to provide organizational and communications support as the week unfolded. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Ontario Region provided material assistance and encouraged its local activists to be part of the week. The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) supported the organizing in key ways and helped mobilize for the local actions.
BUILDING A COMMUNITY BASED FIGHT-BACK: Put Food in the Budget helped to involve local organizations it works with. The North Shore Tribal Council mobilized people in First Nations communities between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie. Local poor people`s organizations and their allies played the decisive role in making sure that the Liberals were challenged in a wide range of places.
The week began December 7 with a rally at the Kitchener office of Social Services Minister, a.k.a Minister of Misery, John Milloy. Milloy had announced his holiday open house would be held there at that time but, with news of the demonstration hosted by local KW group, Poverty Makes Us Sick (PMUS), he cancelled the event and hid. PMUS continued to organize local actions in the Kitchener Waterloo area everyday throughout the entire week of action.
It would take too long to describe every single action that was organized over the week that followed. A list of them is already on our website and we are updating this with pictures, reports and media stories. Delegations to Ministry offices took place in Oshawa and the Sault. In Ottawa, a roving delegation visited five MPPs. Meetings with MPPs were held in Sarnia and Halton. The Peel Poverty Action Group, occupied the office of leadership candidate, Harindar Takhar. Teachers held a bake sale outside a $500 a ticket cocktail party put on by Kathleen Wynne. Health Providers Against Poverty went to the office of Dr. Eric Hoskins, MPP to ask him about his role in eliminating the CSUMB only to be met by cops. Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty in Toronto mobilized a contingent to the door-step of Mario Sergio’s office and were disrespectfully met with a locked door and note. The Kingston Coalition Against Poverty (KCAP) mobilized at the office John Gerretsen. The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) mobilized at a City Council meeting and was able to get Council to pass a resolution opposing the cut to CSUMB. Later in the week, joined by the North Shore Tribal Council and local S-CAP members marched on the office of David Orazietti. Drawing on the strength and experience of our First Nations allies, this march succeeded in shutting down the Trans Canada Highway. OCAP held an overnight campout at the office of leadership candidate, Glen Murray, about forty-five homeless people and allies, joined by OFL President, Sid Ryan, and Executive Vice President, Irwin Nanda, slept there. Murray, himself put in an appearance and informed us that he supported the position that the CSUMB should not be eliminated.
Our Week of Action clearly shook the Liberals, won huge support and took the resistance to austerity in poor communities to a new level. We mobilized with every intention of preventing the cut to CSUMB but, should they go ahead and end it on January 1, our challenge to them will become even more powerful. We will take those who are impacted by the cut to the Liberal MPPs. We will begin this by mobilizing at their Leadership debates and then their Convention January25-27. If they go ahead and kill the start up, we will escalate our fight back and we will do so as a common front of communities and unions resisting Liberal austerity in Ontario.
Check out www.ocap.ca for upcoming events including January 9th and January 25-27th
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty