More than 100 people from a wide spectrum of the community attended the Blueprint session on November 27 at CAW Local 707 Hall in Oakville. The assembled included present civic officials, health, education, faith community, women’s groups, and professional and business people.

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Community Development Halton, Make Poverty History Burlington & Halton chapter, and Advancement for Women Halton (AWH). Darla Campbell of AWH moderated the evening and MPP Kevin Flynn made an opening statement on his Government’s commitment to poverty reduction.

Discussion covered the following areas:

  • How does the business community respond to this material? Business people might not support all the proposed poverty reduction initiatives in the Blueprint but they may they choose parts of the 25 in 5 message as had happened in other communities.
  • The economic conditions are so grave that business should recognize it is in their interest to support the Blueprint.
  • Why set $11 as minimum wage and index thereafter since it is not a livable wage and jobs that pay that amount have no benefits. There is a distinction between a poverty reduction wage and a living wage. A minimum age should be adequate to meet basic social necessities and should be supplemented with other protections like the OCB for children and the Work Tax Credit. The Living Wage is a standard for social adequacy. More elements are added into the Living Wage. Living Wages make the minimum wage look less excessive.
  • How does one go about changing basic individual attitudes that community support for some not take away from others. The notion of taxpayer has been substituted for the notion of citizenship – taxpayer is meant to distinguish between net-givers and net-takers. In a strong community people pool their resources for public goods Public goods are “we” – not I pay for you.
  • Money spent on poverty reduction will have a stimulating effect on local economies but the Government is facing competing demands for aid, e.g. auto sector. Isn’t it better to support jobs that already exist rather than try to create new jobs? Ontario can afford both and should also be investing in city infrastructure which creates jobs. Work. We need to take a serious look at public investment in all areas.

Captain Christine Johnson of Salvation Army spoke near the end of the meeting on the huge increase in food bank usage (40%) and asked for the support of volunteers.

Gary Beck, President of CAW Local 707, closed the meeting express the importance of a better life for all individuals and appealing for the support of both the federal and provincial governments to keep poverty from increasing in this community.