The McGuinty Liberals by invitation-only consultations on poverty—closed to many social activists and the poor in Ontario communities—are “an affront to democracy and mirror the social stigma and exclusion faced by those living in poverty,” says Sid Ryan, Ontario President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Something is seriously wrong when groups that have been working on the front lines of communities to alleviate poverty are not on the invitation list to these exclusive meetings,” says Ryan. He urged the Premier to rethink the closed-door meetings that are excluding anti-poverty activists, social planning agencies and the poor, saying that the forums should be replaced by open town hall meetings.
“These forums are sending the wrong message. They are excluding and marginalizing people just like poverty does. And that’s ugly,” said Ryan.
Yesterday, at Peterborough’s “closed-door” session, community anti-poverty activists like former
MPP Jenny Carter and others were ‘manhandled’ out of the building by security guards, according to Candace Rennick, a Peterborough social activist and CUPE Ontario executive board member.
“Who is being invited to these meetings? People living in poverty were not. Neither were community workers or social activists. It’s shameful,” said Rennick who was turned away from the Peterborough closed-door session.
CUPE Ontario made fighting poverty one of its key issues in last year’s provincial election. In January of this year, it presented a number of plans for poverty reduction as part of its deputation and submission to the Finance Committee’s pre-budget consultations.
For more information, contact:
Valerie Dugale CUPE Communications 647-225-3685
Sid Ryan CUPE Ontario President 416-209-0066
Candace Rennick CUPE Ontario Executive Board Member 705-768-2288