The following observations of the Minister’s consultation on poverty reduction in Sudbury on May 26, 2008 are offered by Dave Stevenson of North Bay.

We should all be proud of our efforts to get North Bay heard at today’s provincial consultation with Deb Matthews. The group consulting with the Minister was small. Six of us were there representing North Bay.

We were placed at round tables. It was up close and personal with Deb Matthews, as each round table worked together on the questions being asked. We were quite prepared for this. Ms. Matthews moved around, sat at our tables, listened intently and engaged in conversations with us.

North Bay’s representatives sat at different tables to have a more equal representation. We went by colour code. At the end of each session, each group presented its answers, and again had some discussion with the Minister.

I am proud to say that every member from North Bay spoke openly from the floor while Deb Matthews was speaking with the groups from the front. We were all heard!

Ms. Matthews heard it all: minimum wage needs to be raised; OW and ODSP need to be raised; better and more affordable housing is needed; easy access to resources; holistic approaches to helping people; measuring poverty or progress out of it; a focus on aboriginal poverty and racism; discrimination against the poor; day care; education; collaborative efforts; more efficiency in the systems with less waste and repetition. That’s just off the top of my head. Some people complained there was too much information in a short period of time; however, I was proud of our efforts at this meeting, we did get heard, and the momentum is moving forward in a positive direction. I am very happy we were able to participate in this process and that North Bay was not left out. Congratulations to everyone in the PCWG for North Bay’s strong presence in Sudbury, today. It was a job well done.