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TORONTO, ON – Fed up with rising poverty and government inaction, anti-poverty groups from across Ontario will hold a rally and march on Saturday, beginning at Sudbury Secondary School.

“Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It is inexcusable that poverty is growing in Ontario, and government policy is making a bad situation worse,” says Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario’s social service workers coordinating committee. “Social assistance rates need to go up by 55 percent just to catch up to where they were before the Harris government cuts. The Liberals are not just leaving people in poverty; they’re making it harder to get out by cutting programs like the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB).”

CUPE Ontario and several anti-poverty groups and unions are partners in the Raise the Rates Campaign. The rally is part of a week of action around the province calling for an immediate 55 percent increase in social assistance rates, restoration of the CSUMB, maintaining separate Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support programs, and raising the minimum wage to $14.

“Across the province, people are fed up. We’ve had endless consultations. The government has spent years talking about poverty,” says Liisa Schofield, spokesperson for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. “Premier Wynne needs to actually do something to help the 1.5 million Ontarians struggling to get by on stagnant social assistance rates and in increasingly precarious work at a minimum wage that doesn’t even let a person live at the poverty line. Otherwise her only legacy as the ‘consultation premier’ will be more poverty.”

On Friday, the day before the province-wide rally, groups are also holding a free meal and anti-poverty march starting at 2 p.m. at Memorial Park.

“It is really important that the Raise the Rates campaign is supporting people living in poverty in northern Ontario,” says Anna Harbulik of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty. “Rather than asking us to go to Toronto yet again for a province-wide rally and march they are bringing people from the south to Sudbury to highlight the problems people living in poverty in northern Ontario are facing.”

Anti-poverty groups are boycotting the Wynne government’s latest consultations on social assistance in Ontario. These follow another round of consultations last year, which resulted in the Lankin/Sheikh report.

What:    Raise the Rates rally and march

Who:    Sid Ryan, President, Ontario Federation of Labour

              Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair, CUPE Ontario Social Service Workers’

              Coordinating Committee

              Liisa Schofield, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

              Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty                                        

When:  Saturday, October 19th at 2:00 p.m.

Where:  Sheridan Auditorium, Sudbury Secondary School

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.


For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications