Mike Balkwill presented the Blueprint in Woodstock on November 26 to about 45 people in the County of Oxford Council Chambers. Attendees represented county councillors, Thames Valley Board of Education, social services and housing staff, clergy, recipients of Ontario Works and Disability Pensions, participants of the Women’s Employment Resource Centre, community service leaders, labour and public health.

Following the Blueprint presentation, there was discussion about the experience of poverty in Oxford:

  • the homeless shelter open 6 months of the year;
  • the increasing number of people using the Soup Bowl even on days when ‘the cheques’ come in;
  • more working poor coming for food and applying for disability;
  • very few jobs at the Women’s Employment Resource Centre;
  • the down turn in the automotive industry – disappointment that the Toyota plant will operate only 1 shift;
  • the increasing number breakfast/lunch/dinner programs in schools; and
  • the high number of people without a high school diploma in Oxford.

People were encouraged to endorse the “25-in-5” Poverty Reduction Program as organizations or individually. Seven people agreed to work with the Social Planning Council of Oxford to develop a local strategy to complement the “25-in-5.”

Report prepared and submitted by Marg Murray.