Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Here is one for you.

Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario is trying today to defend his government's invite-only consultations on a new poverty strategy after members of the public were thrown out of the first meeting held yesterday in Cobourg. The people thrown out were people living in poverty.

The Peterborough Examiner reports the lack of public access resulted in shouts of anger by former Peterborough New Democratic Party (NDP) MPP Jenny Carter and members of the public, some of whom were pushed from the building by security.

The protesters greeted Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews with shouts of "shame" and "we want 40 per cent" upon her arrival.

The group of anti-poverty activists, many from the Peterborough Coalition Against Poverty (PCAP), demanded Matthews allow them into the session.

"Are you afraid to hear from the rest of us, because then you might have to do something about the demands we're making?" said Mary-Jo Nadeau.

Can't have poor people commenting on poverty, for God's sake.

Part of the government's re-election platform was to reduce poverty by 25 per cent in the next five years, and "getting firsthand feedback" across the province. Firsthand, but from whom, Mr. Premier?

McGuinty says the government wants to meet with selected groups behind closed doors to hear their ideas for dealing with poverty.

That sound a little odd to me. Secret meetings to discuss poverty, uh, maybe we're not supposed to know there is poverty or something. Maybe the idea is to keep it from the some 1.3 million Ontarians living in poverty.

"They don't want low-income people publicly confronting the minister (saying): `No one can live on Ontario Works,'" NDP Leader Howard Hampton told reporters yesterday.

"They don't want to hear low-income people say: `You need to raise the minimum wage higher.'"
NDP Poverty critic Michael Prue said, “The McGuinty government pays lip service to poverty and doesn’t want to hear from those who are struggling. This government’s so-called poverty consultations are not only about shortchanging the most vulnerable, they’re about muzzling them too."

“Dalton McGuinty refuses to immediately end the clawback of the national child benefit, won’t commit to an immediate minimum wage increase that will lift hard working Ontarians out of poverty, and leaves those waiting for affordable housing languishing on a wait-list.”

“I can’t believe that on the first day of these so-called public consultations, not only have the McGuinty Liberals refused members of the public access into the meetings, they were throwing them out. The government’s behaviour is appalling and shameful!” stated Prue.

Deborah O'Connor, Northumberland Coalition Against Poverty commenting succinctly recently about these poverty strategy sessions said, "My message to the province is to quit playing around and get to work, now. Any poor person in Ontario can tell the government what poverty is in about two minutes. It's not rocket science; it's basic common sense."

The following is from Northumberland Today (Ontario).

People living in poverty protest exclusion from anti-poverty meeting in Cobourg

Women with their mouths taped shut and the word “silence” written across them protested outside a provincial anti-poverty roundtable meeting held in Cobourg today.

They were expressing opposition to being shut out of a meeting focusing on a problem they are actually living. Several protesters explained this after removing their tape to express their dissatisfaction to Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews who is holding the regional meeting. Her mandate is to gain information about poverty and create a new poverty reduction strategy by year’s end.

The very people who should be there are being shut out, said Christine Watts who described herself as receiving some financial assistance, working part time and still living in poverty.

People struggling with limited resources and the existing system can be resources to those trying to fix it, she suggested.

“But I don’t think peacefully (expressed) ideas are given any respect.” Ms. Watts said.

At first Minister Matthews explained to protesters that this is just one of a series of meetings and ways people can tell the stories she says she needs to hear. Riding MPPs will be holding other meetings, she said. Then the Minister invited a few of the small group to attend the meeting set to begin inside the Best Western Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre. After harsh words from NDP critic and Beaches East MPP Michael Prue about keeping the poor out of the meeting, as well as himself, Ms. Matthews invited any of those gathered outside the Best Western Convention Centre to join in the fact-gathering meeting.

Several people did, including Deb O’Connor who works for the Northumberland Legal Clinic and one or two of the protesters. Before that, however, she urged the Minister to quit studying the problem and increase financial assistance to those living in poverty.

“The poor can’t wait anymore. They need the rates increased now,” Ms. O’Connor said.


Ron Payne said...

This was sent to the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, the Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Hamilton city councilor Bernie Morelli, via e-mail on Feb 24 08.

My question to you and to myself is how do they get away with the callous and unjust manner that workers approach their clients with, at Ontario Works, ODSP and even the Social Benefits Tribunal?

The answer is very simple. BECAUSE THEY CAN

For the record I would like to state, I have seen many improvements to the SBT since a change of it’s Chair and I expect to see many more. I can’t say the same for Ontario Works and ODSP.

The research shows when clients have contact with workers the response is not always the same. You could ask three different workers the same question and receive three different answers.

If the worker doesn't especially like you, they will simply ignore you. This means things like no return phone calls, ignoring verbal requests for benefits, requesting more than usual documents be brought in to prove eligibility and so on.

If the worker really doesn't like you, they will often do everything in their power to harass, intimidate and frustrate you into giving up and going away. This means things like ignoring written requests for benefits, telling you that the benefit doesn’t exist, denying benefits when you are entitled and no decision letters and so on.

If the worker does like you, they will give you any of the benefits that you ask for if you entitled. This is only if the worker is aware of the benefits requested. Here is an interesting problem. The vast majority of the workers are not aware of benefits that are available. This even includes some of the excellent workers. Another problem is that the fast majority of clients don’t even know what the benefits are.

********All clients must document, tape record and video record everything, every time when dealing with any OW or ODSP staff. ********

The governments must, as a gesture of good will, give all Ontario Works and ODSP clients a written copy of the benefits that they say clients are entitled.

This would be a first concrete step taken to start the process in eliminating poverty.

Ontario Works Directive # 31.0 found at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/ow-directives/ow_policy_directives.htm or the:

Ontario Disability Support Program Directives #s 9.1 to 9.19 Found at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/odsp-is-directives/ODSP_incomesupport.htm

The only real remedy to this problem is for clients to sue their respective governments. For Ontario Works it would be their local municipal government and the Province of Ontario and for ODSP it would be the Province of Ontario.

In the Ontario Works Act it states No personal liability

77.(1)No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director, a delivery agent, an officer or employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act.

In the Ontario Disability Support Program it states No personal liability

58. (1) No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director or a delivery agent, an officer, employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act. 1997, c. 25, Sched. B, s. 58 (1).

This means that a client could sue for damages if bad faith could be proven.

It is called bad faith; a person who intentionally tries to deceive or mislead another in order to gain some advantage.

It is called willful blindness or willful deceit.

The government must get rid of the discretionary powers it allows workers in the OW and OSSP, Act, Regulations and Directives.

You’re either entitled to benefits or your not. It is extremely simple but the government will not do it until it gets sued for Bad Faith.

It’s so simple; all the government has to do is to look at how the federal government implements its Employment Insurance application process, and they are saving millions.

To receive benefits you must go online to apply, with exceptions for some disabled clients. You fill out a simple template and the next thing you experience is a cheque in the mail. If the federal government trusts us why can’t you?

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal
Hamilton, Ontario.
E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com

Ron Payne said...


The general public has no idea what the system is really like. They think fraud is ramped in Ontario Works and ODSP. Here is something to think about and it is just the tip of the iceberg according to our research.
The provincial government says welfare fraud is around 2%.
Who is really committing the fraud around here?
The federal government says income tax fraud is 13%

Ontario Works staff charged in $1.3million Fraud
By Sarah Elizabeth Brown Tuesday March 4,2008
Chronicle Journal http://tbay.ok.bc.ca/stories.php?id=95704

Budget cuts allow more Ontario Works staff fraud.

Government ODSP worker charged in $585,000 fraud case.
By SooToday.com Staff Wednesday, November 14, 2007

93.7 million dollars in corporate welfare
Linda Leatherdale March 7,2008
Premier Dalton McGuity is handing over a 9.7 million dollar corporate welfare cheque to Kellogg. Kellogg’s profit was $1 billion. Also Ford got a $55 million cheque and is now cutting shifts, while GM got $29million and is also cutting shifts.

$150 million called corporate welfare for a profitable industry.
Rob Ferguson January 10, 2008
Queens Park Bureau http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/292631
The Ontario Government has earmarked $150 million to encourage pharmaceutical companies to do more drug research and manufacturing in the province.
An internal audit in Hamilton, Ontario showed that Ontario Works staff were taking the city’s credit card out and enjoying a nice lunch privately.

The same audit showed that the Ontario Works workers had uninterrupted access to the main computer that issues their clients checks.

Isn’t that a recipe for disaster?

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal
Hamilton, Ontario
E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com