July 29, 2010
Voices of Low-Income People in Ontario
Labels: young workers
Voices of Low-Income People in Ontario
A report from the “Ending Poverty Project” led by Campaign 2000
and the Income Security Advocacy Centre
Here are some very helpful and useful excerpts -
On December 5th, the Ontario Government announced its long-awaited and much-anticipated poverty reduction strategy. ( page 2 )
The strategy marks a pivotal moment in the discussion around poverty. In releasing the strategy, the Ontario Government has recognized that tackling poverty is complex and requires a plan. For the first time, it sets a target and establishes a timeline for getting there. Just as significantly, it outlines a role for governments and takes some responsibility for the increasing poverty evident in Ontario, instead of blaming people themselves. ( page 2 )
What it lacks is a lot of specifics on how it will meet its goals of reducing child poverty within five years and how much money it will invest. It also doesn’t address how it will reduce poverty for people without children and communities disproportionately likely to be living in poverty, like people with disabilities, single moms, Aboriginal people, racialized communities, and new immigrants. ( page 2 )
People living in poverty told us that they will judge the Poverty Reduction Strategy for the impact it has on their lives, whether they have children or are single, live in a city or a small town, are on social assistance or working, are youth, seniors, men, women, Aboriginal people, people of colour, newcomers or people with disabilities. ( page 4 )
Considerable research has shown that people of colour, Aboriginal people, newcomers, people with disabilities, youth and single moms are all more likely to be living in poverty than others and more likely to be in precarious work. ( page 13 )
In developing its poverty reduction strategy, the Ontario Government has a chance to not only acknowledge the faces of poverty, but take steps to address inequality by developing targeted programs aimed at marginalized groups, along with specific anti-poverty targets and timelines that measure who has benefited and who has not. ( page 27 )
Our situations are different so our poverty is different.”
--Participant at Scarborough workshop
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Full-time jobs at livable wages, with benefits and job security need to be a key component of any poverty reduction strategy. Low-income people told us that tackling racism and discrimination in the workplace and reducing barriers to the labour market, particularly for people of colour, Aboriginal people, newcomers, people with disabilities, youth and single parents also need to be part of any jobs strategy. ( page 4 )
Addressing discrimination and inequity in the workforce was also extremely important to the people we talked to. People of colour, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities, youth and women are all disproportionately working in low-wage work. ( page 27 )
The experiences of Aboriginal youth and youth in Scarborough were different but just as troubling. Youth as young as 12 talked about wanting to get a part-time job to help out their moms. The older youth talked about the racism and stereotypes they came up against because of the addresses on their resumes or the colour of their skin. ( page 12 )
“Racial profiling – they ask what your background is. You know you’re not going to get that job.”
-- Aboriginal youth participant
Recognizing Diversity and Taking Action ( starting on page 26 )
People with disabilities, Aboriginal people, youth, single moms and people of colour are much more likely to be living in poverty. While they share many of the same barriers as other people living in poverty, they also face racism and numerous stereotypes, both in the workforce and in broader society. In its poverty reduction strategy, the Ontario Government needs to address inequality by developing targeted programs aimed at marginalized groups, along with specific anti-poverty targets and timelines that measure who has benefited and who has not. ( page 5 )
People of colour, youth and Aboriginal people in our workshops talked about their first-hand experiences with racism and stereotypes – from employers, prospective landlords, police, the school system and the courts. They said that addressing discrimination and stereotyping in all its forms needs to be part of any poverty reduction strategy. ( page 26 )
Participants in the Aboriginal workshop also felt it was important to point out that university isn’t free for Aboriginal students, as is commonly thought. Native band councils have limited funding to subsidize college and university tuitions and priority goes to those living on First Nations. There’s no guarantee students will be funded through their entire academic program or if they want to pursue a Masters or Phd. Many Aboriginal students also find the transition from their tiny communities to high school, college or university in the city very isolating and foreign, increasing the chances they will drop out. ( page 14 )
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