On Monday night, July 14, close to 200 people gathered at the Hamilton Convention Centre for a community consultation on the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy with local MPP’s, sponsored by the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. It was a great turnout for a hot summer night to discuss poverty!

Many representatives of various community organizations were there to participate in the community consultation. The Forum started off by having various community members share their perspectives on poverty in Hamilton. Six people spoke about poverty from various sectors in the community including Mike DesJardins, Youth Engagement and Action, Lance Dingman, Chair of the Residential Care Facilities, Peter Page, Injured Workers Group, Ursula Samuels from the Ontario Child Benefit Committee, and Cindy Sue Montana McCormack from the Aboriginal Community.

Following that input, people participated in small group community conversations to discuss ideas for poverty reduction in Ontario, particularly as it relates to children. The facilitators then shared these ideas with the larger group.

A panel consisting of Hamilton area MPP’s Andrea Horwath (NDP Hamilton Central), Sophia Aggelonitis (Liberal Hamilton Mountain), and Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale) were then given an opportunity to respond to what they heard. Hamilton city councilor Brian McHattie, and Tatum Wilson, senior policy advisor to Deb Matthews, were also part of the panel. Finally time was allotted for a question answer period, providing an opportunity for the community to engage local politicians about poverty issues.

During the event The Hamilton Working Group for Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy implemented a postcard campaign urging Deb Matthews to include the 25 in 5 declaration in her Poverty Reduction Strategy for Ontario. This was a great success with several post cards being signed off, and many community representatives taking the role of distributing and collecting them on behalf of the working group. Approximately 2,500 post cards will be sent to Minister Matthews, urging her to make a comprehensive strategy for reducing poverty in Ontario. There will be a second printing and the post cards will be distributed during Welcome Week at both McMaster University and Mohawk College.

Report provided by Brooke Camplin