On Monday, April 7, 23 members of the North Bay Provincial Consultation Working Group gathered at St. Joseph’s Motherhouse in North Bay to spend the afternoon advancing their preparation for participation in the provincial consultations on poverty reduction in Ontario.
Held at St. Joseph’s Motherhouse and facilitated by Peter Clutterbuck, SPNO Coordinator, the meeting reviewed the progress of three working sub-groups since the large community meetings held at the end of February. The sub-groups were set up to research how to represent poverty in North Bay using the policy framework (sustaining employment, livable income, life opportunities) presented by Marvyn Novick at the Feb. 26 community meetings.
The working sub-groups are:
> Qualititative Sub-group — the stories of people on low income in North Bay — conditions of life and what would make a difference. Low income people are being assisted to reflect on their experiences and to think about how to convey their stories to the Minister of Children and Youth Services and local MPP, as well as other potential audiences. Various ideas were offered in discussion about how to do this effectively and also how to make sure that this is done sensitively in ways that respect and protect people who choose to participate. There was an interesting discussion on the opportunity for North Bay children to tell their stories in a safe and non-stignmatizing way.
> Quantititative Sub-group — North Bay statistical data related to the three common priorities of the policy framework. The sub-group has almost completed a draft that will identify lead statistical indicators for North Bay relevant to the policy framework’s main priorities from the mass of data available. The draft will be available within a week for sharing with the larger Working Group.
> Communications Sub-group — how to to use the information being put together for impact with political representatives for a poverty reduction plan but also with the wider community for greater public awareness. This Sub-group benefited from hearing the status of the other two sub-groups and the general discussion about the development of the material in order to think about both short-term and longer-term communication strategies.
The Working Group set April 23 as a date to share the data from the Quantitative and Qualititative Sub-groups and work on how to integrate the information into a coherent and compelling presentation for the provincial consultations. The idea of using it for a community briefing with the local MPP was also discussed as well as possible other audiences to seek endorsements and support.
The Working Group recognized that it represented a wide network of important institutional and community stakeholders and that the result of their efforts would be truly a cross-sectoral community product. The presence and participation of new members since the end of February such as the Native Friendship Centre was also recognized and appreciated. Further, the Working Group remains open to and encourages participation of others who may wish to contribute.