by John Clarke / June 2005 issue of Socialist Action
TORONTO—On May 12, a crowd of over 400 poor people and supporters took the fight for decent income right to the doorstep of the Ontario Liberal politician most responsible for imposing hunger on our communities,
Minister of Social Services Sandra Pupatello.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), joined by Ontario Common Front organizations and supporters from Hamilton, Port Hope, Guelph, Kitchener, Belleville, Ottawa, Peterborough and Kingston, marched to the Ministry building in downtown Toronto to demand that the $250 a month special diet supplement be given to all 760,000 welfare and disability recipients in Ontario without their having to jump through bureaucratic hoops.
Right now people can access the previously little known supplement only by finding a medical practitioner ready to state the obvious—that the pittance provided by the Liberal Dalton McGuinty provincial government does not allow people to pay rent and eat properly at the same time.
Despite the fact that many of those who came out to march were people present with families who had not taken part in demonstrations before, they joined us in taking over the streets. No one was the slightest bit intimidated by the massive array of police power on hand.
Later, the many poor people who had come in from out of town, and who have huge trouble accessing medical practitioners in their own communities, attended an OCAP special diet clinic in Regent Park. There, a team of nurse-practitioners assessed 140 people (many of them young kids) for the supplement. They were given the forms and prescriptions necessary to receive the extra income that will enable them to eat decently.
For a long time, OCAP and others have challenged the obscene transfer of wealth from the poorest to richest that has taken place in Ontario under the Tories and, now, their Liberal replacements. With the drive to win the food supplement, however, we have found the means to take back some of the precious income of which the poor have been robbed.
Very close to a thousand people have accessed the supplement through our clinics and we are only beginning to organize this struggle. There are many