Social activists are calling it Super Monday in the provincial fight against poverty.
Toronto-area Liberals are holding three public meetings across the city tonight for the public to weigh in on the McGuinty government’s plan to draft a poverty-reduction strategy with measurable goals and timetables by year’s end.
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Activists see the meetings, which are being held in ridings across the province this month, as the public’s chance to let local MPPs know there is broad backing for the effort and to bolster Liberal caucus support for a strategy with teeth.
“We want to position this as a positive leadership issue,” said Peter Clutterbuck of the Ontario Social Planning Network, which has been helping MPPs set up consultations.
“But we also want them to know we will be measuring their plan against our call to reduce poverty by 25 per cent in five years,” said Clutterbuck, who is also a member of the 25-in-5 Network for Poverty Reduction.
“We want to encourage MPPs to move forward with this and to let them know the public is behind them — everyone from faith communities, chambers of commerce, health-care workers, educators, as well as the community sector,” said Clutterbuck. The group hopes all cabinet ministers and key Liberal backbenchers as well as prominent opposition members will hold consultations.
The meetings with MPPs are in addition to the government’s official public consultations at 14 invitation-only gatherings with Children’s Minister Deb Matthews, who heads the government’s poverty reduction cabinet committee.
Matthews said she has no plans to produce a report on her consultations and needs to use the summer and fall to “get to work on building the strategy.”
However, activists are posting reports on meetings with MPPs at povertywatchontario.ca. The province’s website is growingstronger.ca.