GREEN WOOD COALITION
STATEMENT ON BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE
It is the position of Green Wood Coalition that eliminating poverty is an urgent health, human rights and social justice issue that requires action on the part of the municipal, provincial and federal governments.
As a street-level, charitable organization that uses a community model of caring to walk alongside people living with poverty, mental illness, addiction and other disability, in Port Hope, Green Wood Coalition has observed, first hand, the detrimental effects of poverty on individuals and families.
We are asking for the immediate implementation of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) to provide a minimum annual income at a level that is sufficient to meet basic needs and allows individuals and families to live with dignity, regardless of work status.
BIG is currently the subject of a province-wide consultation process--the reality is that a great deal of discussion and consultation on poverty reduction in recent years has resulted in very little action. We fear that further consultation could be viewed as a diversionary tactic to avoid tackling poverty.
Basic income guarantee, which is an unconditional cash transfer from the government to citizens to provide a minimum annual income and is not tied to labour market participation, is an essential component of a strategy to effectively eliminate poverty, ensure all Canadians have a sufficient income to meet their basic needs, and live with dignity and to eliminate health inequities.
We are in support of the Emergency Resolution recently endorsed by ACORN, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, YWCA Toronto, PFIB and others, that states:
“Whereas Senator Hugh Segal said: “It is hard to conclude that the income support that is now available for those living in poverty is adequate in any meaningful way”; Be it resolved that the Government of Ontario immediately raise the Ontario Works rate for a single individual to $1,320 per month and raise ODSP rates by at least $500 per month.”
Currently in Canada, Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplements (GIS) are forms of guaranteed income supplement programs, which are income tested cash transfers for seniors at age 65 and older. Since their implementation, the incidence of poverty in seniors dropped substantially from 21.4% in 1980 to 5.2% in 2011.
Given the magnitude of the social and economic costs of poverty and the resources being spent on countering the negative effects of poverty, it is more prudent to spend those resources on prevention. Following the existing, proven model of OAS and GIS is a way forward to implementation of a BIG for those under 65. Further consultation on models is unnecessary.
“After decades of intensifying austerity and eroding income supports, social assistance in Ontario is now so wretchedly inadequate that people are unable to feed themselves properly, retain their housing or maintain their health. Total benefit income for those who depend on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) locks nearly 895,000 Ontarians into deep poverty.” –Put Food in the Budget Campaign (PFIB), December 2016
Green Wood Coalition urges our Municipal, Provincial and Federal government representatives and leaders to act immediately to implement a basic income guarantee and address the human rights and social justice violations caused by negligence of poverty issues in our country.
We welcome Renee MacDonald as our guest blogger, today, with a piece that she calls "Stew". Renee is a lifelong Port Hoper who has offered her keen thoughts and compassionate actions in many ways that make this a better community. She can often be found, sharing a meal and a conversation with someone, at our weekly Green Wood Community Dinner.
My great grandmother, Edith, understood stew.
She knew that savoury aromas filling the air with assurances staved off hunger, and made us feel safe.The promise of a meal to come. Nothing was thrown away, everything had value.
Just as resources had value, people had value. She knew, and taught me, that people needed other people; that our life was made richer by caring for others. The melding of the many made community. Like a stew.
Her legendary stews made use of all those potentially discarded things, hiding in dark cupboard corners and cabinets. Vegetables, wilting and listless, forgotten at the back of the refrigerator found renewed purpose. Ashamed to appear alone but finding courage in numbers; stronger for their blending.
“Make it do or do without”. I watched her aged hands
gather and rescue, transforming and chopping,
a woman's alchemy.
Stew became a metaphor; a philosophy of transformation and enough--not just enough but so much that we can stretch to sharing. A shuffling down to make room for one more, a chair scraping up to the table. No problem, just add a few extra things to the pot.
The rail riding "hobos" stopped off in Port Hope during the last Depression and shared in my great grandmothers stew. Ladled from her porch, a seemingly bottomless feast; the loaves and fishes retold. No work required from these men, “just eat”, love unconditional.
I have read that these "hobos" would leave a sign
for those who would follow,
letting them know if a household was kind.
Surely there was a mark on my great grandmother's gate, identifying her open hands and even more open heart. I think of this often as I brace for the second great depression, changes in climate, the peaking of natural resources. Now more than ever, the world needs kindness and bottomless stew pots.
For some people, stew has no place in their world. Stew is a shameful relic like hand-me-down clothes, Saturday baths and mending baskets. It's what you eat if you can't afford something better. They are confident that we left all of this behind in the rear view mirror as we drive head long into our new era of economic prosperity.
I am not so sure of this confidence as I watch the lengthening line up in the church hall, the shuffling of feet growing louder each Wednesday evening. Plates extended for stew and rolls, hearts worn bare by life.
Many of my friends at the Green Wood Coalition
are the first to be hit by the growth economy
that can no longer grow.
We reside in the layer where trickle down economic theory no longer reaches. Each week artists, musicians, activists and other caring people find their way to the table, aching for justice and still hoping for happy endings. We stand together on a ledge that is narrowing, and sense this uneasily.
Tonight someone is here to help, next time it is they who seek solace.But there is strength in our numbers and the most hardened among us teach resilience. Sometimes we feed and sometimes we are fed. Each of us bring our own small contribution to the mix, to this stew, this new world we are gently creating.
Stir, stir, a pinch of this and a dash of that. We try new ingredients that are unfamiliar, that we have not come across before. Sometimes blushing at a blunt comment or off colour joke, “too salty”, throwing off our tentative balance. Forgiving just the same.
My great grandmother would be proud.
Are you feeling like you want to make a difference in your own neighbourhood?
Concerned about people who are lonely and isolated in your community? Bothered by the social injustices that leave a person hungry and homeless while living in one of wealthiest parts of the world at one of the wealthiest times in history?
Green Wood Coalition would welcome you to join a movement for change.
This movement is calling us to reach out to those, near us, who are struggling with the effects of poverty and trauma--recognizing our common humanity.
This movement is calling us to seek justice for those who are marginalized in our own community--like the 59 individuals and 18 families who were identified as being homeless in Northumberland County last month.
This movement is calling us to action for change, beginning with our own attitudes and activities--and then, tackling the structures around us that are trapping hundreds of people in our community in cycles of poverty and isolation.
This is a perfect time to reflect and consider your place in a movment to make this a community where no one is left homeless, left hungy-where no one is left behind.
If you want to join the movement, contact us or one of the other good community organizations that are working for the same kind of change.
Portraits*Reflections, the latest art exhibit by our Green Wood Creative Arts Group, opened on Thursday evening to a warm reception by many friends and neighbours. The collection of art work on display represented responses to the question, "Who Are You?" and offered the same challenge to viewers. Many pieces are very personal portraits, while others represent an ideal of the sort of person that artist admires. Thank you to everyone who joined our celebration and shared encouraging words--an art show opening can be a very vulnerable time for an artist. Portraits*Reflections will be on exhibit for the month of December and may be viewed by chance or by appointment.
We're celebrating the latest exhibition of art by the Green Wood Creative Arts Group with an open house at our Downtown Port Hope creative space. Representing the work of a dozen artists, some of whom have been meeting weekly for more than six years, this show will feature some of our most personal work to date. Art pieces will be on display for the month of December (by appointment or by chance).
Thursday, December 1
6 - 8 PM
Green Wood Coalition
18 Ontario St., Port Hope
November 22, 2016
Port Hope, ON
This afternoon, Northumberland County released the initial findings from the 20,000 Homes Project mounted over the past week across the County. Green Wood Coalition is pleased to have played an integral part in this process that brought over 300 people in our county together to speak candidly about their personal homelessness situation.
While the data gathered input from 300 people from across the county, this only represents a snapshot of the people facing homelessness in Northumberland.
• 59 individuals identified as being currently homeless
• 18 families (with a total of 25 children) are without a home
• 179 individuals and 48 families are at imminent risk of losing their home
“The evidence gathered and shared in these findings is not entirely surprising to us. Our work brings us shoulder-to-shoulder with many individuals living rough or on the cusp of homelessness” says, David Sheffield, Community Director.
As Northumberland is primarily rural, our homeless community members don’t have restaurants open late to use as warming stations or warming grates to sleep over like in urban centres. We having been working to promote warm, affordable housing for our neighbours for years. This report highlights that that children, young adults, older adults are all affected by homelessness. We want to see this change.
“We trust that leaders and community members alike step up, pay attention to this report and take-action to reduce homelessness in Northumberland. We will continue to do our part” says, Karyn Kennedy, Board Chair.
To read more about the full report please click here
Click here to find out what Green Wood Coalition is doing about homelessness
For more information, feel free to contact David Sheffield at 905-885-8700
Are you, or someone else you know, couch surfing, living rough, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless?
Community partners in Northumberland County--including Green Wood Coalition--are connecting with people and families from Nov. 14 to 17th. We want to complete a short health and housing survey with people who are experiencing homelessness (in shelters, couch surfing or living rough) and people who are at risk of homelessness (about to be evicted, cannot afford housing, living with friends, job loss).
The approach is to know every person experiencing or at risk of homelessness by name and to prioritize those most vulnerable, to help them get into stable, affordable housing as quickly as possible.
A gift card will be provided to those who complete surveys.
Surveys can be completed Nov. 14-17th at various locations throughout Northumberland County. Watch this page for specific locations and times.
Last night was another great edition of our monthly Community 101 gathering at Green Wood's downtown location. If you haven't visited Community 101, it's an interactive series that explores ways of becoming a more healthy and vibrant community through caring for each other and seeking long-term change. Community 101 is an interactive series that explores ways of becoming a more healthy and vibrant community through caring for each other and seeking long-term change.
A highlight of last night was a presentation by Christian Harvey, of Peterborough's Warming Room, about what he calls "transformative volunteering". He also talked about "relational practice" and the struggle to hold onto a human approach, in spite of pressures toward more efficient systems. "Efficiency demands results," Christian said, "and results are harder to show when we're working with people with more complex needs." We really need to have this guy back for another visit!
November's Community 101 is set for Monday, November 28 at 7 PM.
Our garden crew spent part of the day putting the Green Wood Community Garden to bed--then gathered around the table for lunch and good conversation. What a great season it has been!