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TORONTO, ON – Hundreds of people from across the province marched on the Liberal convention in Toronto today, banging pots and calling on the Ontario government to stop its “War on the Poor.”

The march was organized by the Raise the Rates campaign, which includes the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, the Ontario Coalition of Poverty (OCAP) and many anti-poverty groups. Busloads of protesters from Sudbury, Kingston, Ottawa, Kitchener/Waterloo and Hamilton joined people from across Toronto for the rally and march.

“Empty pots make a great noise, but not a great dinner for a family,” said Liisa Schofield, spokesperson for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. “The Liberals have never restored cuts to Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program that the Conservatives made in 1995. Today, social assistance is worth 55 percent less than it was then. That leaves more and more people unable to feed themselves and their kids.”

The Raise the Rates campaign is calling on the provincial government to:

  • Raise Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program to restore the 55 percent loss in value since cuts made by Conservatives in 1995
  • Provide a $14/hour minimum wage fully indexed to inflation
  • Fully restore the Special Diet and Community Start-Up benefits
  • Commit to not merging Ontario Works and the ODSP

“After 11 years in power, the Liberals have not addressed the serious and growing problem of poverty in Ontario,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario. “They have maintained huge tax cuts for corporations by continuously lowering the standard of living for the poorest people in the province. Instead of part-time and casual jobs that pay minimum wages – which seems to be the PC plan – we need a government that will invest in public services and in social infrastructure to create good jobs, give people a path out of poverty and build a better Ontario for everyone.”

Rally participants included CUPE Ontario, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty, the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty, Poverty Makes us Sick Ottawa, Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty, Sistering and the Kitchener/Waterloo Coalition Against Poverty.

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, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications