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Hamilton chapter hosts talk by anti-poverty activist

The Council of Canadians Hamilton chapter hosted a talk last night by local anti-poverty activist Laura Cattari.

Chapter activist Ute Schmid Jones posted on Facebook, “The meeting of the Council of Canadians-Hamilton Chapter featured guest speaker and specialist on Poverty and Social Justice Issues: Laura Cattari. Laura’s incredible knowledge of the ‘system’ broadened our own understanding of why change is necessary on so many fronts.”

Advocacy Hamilton notes, “Laura is currently an active member of her congregation, Temple Anshe Sholom, serving on the board and various committees, as well as, heading it’s Social Action Committee. She also sits on the Canadian Social Action Committee for Reform Judaism as a congregational representative.”

It adds, “In March 2011 Ms. Cattari accepted a seat on the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and is currently a member of it’s Steering Committee, as well as, involved in both the Shifting Attitudes and Social Assistance Reform working groups.”

Cattari is also the campaign co-ordinator for the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction’s ‘Fix the Gap’ campaign.

Their website notes, “The campaign originated with the idea of an evidence based rates board to set social assistance rates 10 years ago. Craig Foye of the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic worked with MPP Ted McMeekin to develop a private member’s bill which despite passing second reading died on the floor when a provincial election was called.”

It adds, “It wasn’t until this year [2016] that MPP Paul Miller decided to create a new iteration of the bill calling on the government to create a standing commission that would annually look at the cost of living in various economic regions of Ontario in order to inform social assistance rates and also look at precarious work and WSIB [Workplace Safety and Insurance Board]. [It died with prorogation, but] Miller immediately re-introduced the same legislation. It is now called: Bill 6, Ministry of Community and Social Services Amendment Act (Social Assistance Research Commission), 2016.”

The Fix the Gap campaign does broader work, but keenly supports Bill 6.

The Council of Canadians has previously supported legislation that would have the federal government recognize its responsibility to eliminate poverty and promote social inclusion by establishing and implementing a strategy in consultation with provincial, municipal and First Nation governments, as well as with civil society and directly impacted individuals. That legislation would have also required the government to set out short, medium and long-term deadlines to reduce poverty and appoint an independent poverty elimination commissioner to hold it accountable.

In 1989, the House of Commons voted to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000, a goal that is far from being achieved.