Following a joint presentation of the Social Development Council of Cornwall and the SPNO, the City Council of Cornwall unanimously passed a resolution at its meeting on Monday, April 28, 2008 that “it will work with the community and other levels of government to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy that will focus initially on a 25% reduction in the next five years and will recommend and support the harmonization of income definitions.”

The Cornwall City Council also passed a resolution to work with the Social Development Council of Cornwall “on a Human and Social Services Vision over the next three years to improve living conditions for people who live in substandard conditions.”

This encouraging support of the Cornwall City Council followed an afternoon in which a diverse group of more than 20 community members played the “Poverty Game” under the leadership of Lynn Smith of the Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN). The Poverty Game assigns the identities and experiences of real people who live on low income (real names are protected) and leads them through a week by week struggle to survive on inadequate income for a two-month period. Following the exercise, participants were asked to stay in character and describe in one word how they felt. Some of the one-word offerings were: “frustrated”, “depressed”, “stressed”, “desperate”, “angry”, “suicidal”.

The presentation of the Policy Framework for a Poverty Reduction Strategy and the 25 in 5 Declaration generated a lot of interest and some discussion among those present of local poverty reduction priorities in Cornwall, which included:

  • more accessible and affordable public transit (community pass or subsidy programs for low income people)
  • ensuring a decent minimum wage
  • quality affordable child care
  • use of community schools as hubs for recreation and other programs
  • breakfast and nutrition programs
  • working on social inclusion as part of poverty reduction
  • protections for low income workers on issues such as working hours that hurt family life
  • effective partnerships among all levels of government and the community to work together on poverty reduction