On March 16, OCAP and many allies took to the streets to challenge the
Provincial Government and the 2012 budget that we knew would intensify
the agenda of poverty (See OCAP's statement on the budget
here:http://www.ocap.ca/node/994). It was also our collective
grassroots contribution to the building of a common front against the
austerity that our communities are facing.
Five hundred people gathered outside the offices of the Ministry of
Housing at Bay and College to listen to a range of union and social
movement speakers and to enjoy a fine meal provided by the Ontario
Nurses Association. We began at a location operated by the Provincial
Government but we set our sights on the real architects of austerity
in the corporate towers on Bay Street. To drive this home, our March
set out in the direction of the TD Bank at Bay and King, the long time
home of economist Don Drummond whose regressive report shaped the
attacks that the Liberal Government followed through with in the 2012
Ontario Budget Declares War on Poor and Working People:
Liberals cut Community Start-Up allowance, drive down welfare/ODSP rates, impose wage freeze...
The 2012 Ontario Budget, delivered by the Liberal Government, but designed by Bay Street, goes under the title 'Strong Action for Ontario'. In reality, however, it is a blueprint for action to impose the burden of the crisis on everyone but the rich. Public Services will be under attack as the Government works to reduce spending by some $17.7 billion over the next three years. The workers who deliver those services will face a wage freeze and an unprecedented attack on their pensions.
As already announced by Dalton McGuinty, this Budget includes measures that will deepen the crisis of poverty in Ontario. A planned $100 increase in the Ontario Child Benefit will be put off until July of 2013 and social assistance rates will be 'frozen', which in real terms means a cut in income once again. People on Ontario Works are living on incomes that are a devastating 60% lower than they were in 1995 and over 20% lower than when the Harris Tories left office. Now, that wretched sub poverty income will continue to be driven down further by the 'poverty reduction' Liberals as the cost of food and other necessities increases significantly.
Former Toronto Dominion Bank economist, Don Drummond, has now handed over his report to the McGuinty government. As we might have expected it is a call to arms for the advocates of austerity. It suggests cuts to social services that would make Harris’s Tory government look like social reformers. Harris cut the Provincial Budget by less than 4% during one term of office while Drummond wants a 17% reduction kept up for a decade and a half. Among other drastic recommendations it calls for limiting annual spending growth for social assistance to 0.5% until 2018, despite the fact that those living on social assistance are still suffering from the 21.6% cuts to assistance from the Harris years, which the Liberals have only made worse. Nowadays a person living on welfare in Ontario is making 55% less than they did in the early 90s, when the rates were already far below the poverty line. Also in Drummond’s cross-hairs are ODSP and the Child Tax Benefit.
Through all the rhetoric of "overspending" it is important to remember that this economic crisis was not caused by us. After all, it is noteworthy that the budget was balanced before the crisis of 2008-09. It was not caused by welfare recipients, it was not caused by organized labour and it was not caused by public services. We are living through a financial crisis that was caused by the rich, and while the banks are getting bailed out we are being bled dry to pay for their greed.
The Drummond report is a roadmap to austerity and if it is not swiftly defeated its legacy will haunt us for decades to come. At the same time it is important not to stay fixated on the Drummond report. We know that the Liberals have been planning to implement cut-back measures long before this report came out. It is imperative that we keep a close eye on the upcoming budget and root out every attack directed against us in the name of austerity.
The time is crucial for us to coordinate our efforts and organize ourselves as effectively as possible to mount a serious fightback.
On March 16 FIGHT POVERTY AND DEMAND: A LIVING INCOME! HOUSING!
QUALITY PUBLIC SERVICES FOR ALL!
-Solidarity Against Austerity-
Friday, March 16, 2012
Rally and March
Meet at College St and Bay St, Toronto (Outside the Ministry of Housing)
*Free Meal (provided by members of the Ontario Nurses Association)
*ASL-English at the Rally
*Closest accessible transit station is Queen’s Park
Join the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and allies for a march and rally on Friday, March 16th, in the lead up to the 2012 Provincial Budget. The McGuinty government has hired former head of the TD bank, Don Drummond, to propose and provide the basis for massive social cutbacks in their 2012 budget. It is being drafted as the Provincial component of the austerity agenda that is gathering force across Canada and internationally. City Hall, Queen`s Park and Ottawa are delivering austerity, but clearly it is being cooked-up on Bay Street by bankers like Drummond to the benefit of their rich friends.
We have to stop the cuts and fight for what poor and working people need!
For poor people and workers in this province, it has been a constant state of crisis. McGuinty is now preparing to make this situation much worse.
On March 16, we will be rallying at an Ontario Government location but taking our march to Toronto`s financial centre where the real decisions are being made by and for the '1%'. We will be marching to oppose austerity measures but also to demand the reversing of previous cutbacks, the right to a living income, the right to affordable and accessible housing, and for good quality public services for all! We will be marching against the kind of society Drummond and the rich are creating, and for one that meets the needs and improves the lives of all of us!
OCAP, CUPE and OCHU will be hosting a video screening and panel discussion on poverty and allied networking between the labour movement and social justice groups on March 1st.
The event will be held at the Steelworkers Hall on 350 Kenilworth Ave, in Hamilton from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Suggested donation is $5-$10, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds. There will be very light snacks and refreshments served as well.
Join other workers in discussing why trade unionists need to join the fight for increased social assistance rates and a decent income for all!
GET IN TOUCH: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty