On Monday evening, July 21, about 45 people participated in a community meeting on poverty reduction sponsored by the Brampton and Mississauga District Labour Council and the Peel Poverty Action Group.

Held at the Four Corners Branch Library in Brampton, the energy was high with many ages represented included a small delegation from Peel Youth Village‘s transitional housing program. About one-third of the participants talked of living in poverty now or previously.

The local MPP did not attend the meeting, which was initiated by the community because the official consultation meeting was by invitation only and not many, if any, low income people were invited.

Participants spoke from the heart telling about struggles with ODSP. Another person spoke about the terrible situation with workers stuck in temporary agencies, not getting paid, poor working conditions. Another young person with a disability said that she works two-three days per week but cannot afford to drive to work and may have to quit.

Other issues raised about living in poverty included:

  • long waiting lists for affordable housing (21 years for social housing in Peel!)
  • barriers to pursuing education because of the lack of permanent affordable housing
  • not being able to get ahead by working (while on ODSP) because 50% of income is clawed back
  • interesting examples of people with disabilities in Northern Europe where people pay higher taxes but get much more than we do
  • people falling through the cracks of disability support from work and ODSP and then approaching senior status and falling through all of the cracks in the system
  • increasing utilities bills especially hydro, which hit the poor hardest
  • complaints about physicians who were reluctant or refused to sign medical forms for people to qualify for ODSP