Poverty Square table Meetings

Committed group ‘makes poverty history” with first ever action forum in York Region to focus on poverty reduction.

The Poverty Action for Change Coalition (PACC) is pleased to announce that a series of non-partisan “square-table’ meetings, co-paneled by leading politicians from all levels of government in Northern York Region with the goal of reducing Poverty in the region, is set to begin with the 1st in the series of quarterly’s to be held at Newmarket’ s Magna Centre on Feb 20 2008.

The idea was broached in Oct 2006 at the first ever (PACC organized) rally against poverty in the region - at The York Regional Newmarket headquarters front lawn on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty from where it received various committments including regional councilor to be at the time – John Taylor - and ultimately MP Belinda Stronach - with the stipulation that it lead to action. The idea was then presented to the provincial ministry via a meeting with Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur and senior staff, which gave a luke - warm reception to the idea but who were receptive to further communications in its regard at that time.

The electing of MPP Frank Klees who gave support to the idea almost immediately, as well Georgina Mayor Rob Grossi, who also pledged support last Oct 17 at the PACC organized International Day for the Eradication of Poverty event at Newmarket’s Fairy Lake Park, and as well former Mayor of Aurora and future MP candidate Tim Jones, were the final touches to make for a grouping with some “teeth”.

In order that the forum is most affective, it has been agreed that representatives from all levels would need to participate and that with Northern York Region having unique issues differing from the south, it would concentrate on this geographical area at this time

States PACC Chair Tom Pearson, “ It took awhile, but we feel we have a group of gutsy community leaders who have shown their leadership by committing to finding ways to specifically reduce poverty- and in the past it has been hard to even get York Region politicians to even admit there was a problem, and in fact some still hide from it as witnessed by some non-responses we received, or rather didn’t. They should all be commended for their actions – but not too much yet, as there is work to be done!”

The first closed door meeting will be used to formalize the set-up and procedures the forum will take and will eventually receive information from everything from the private sector, agencies, individuals, education boards, and organizations - to possibly hearing from other forums such as campaign 2000 which has the added bonus of having economists information specific to Ontario in relation to poverty. The group may also add to the panel should they so choose, for the duration of the quarterly meets.

“ We have a lot of desperate people - families, children, counting on us to make things happen’ says Mr. Pearson, “ We hear almost daily from families, mostly single moms desperate to avoid things like eviction and which our system relies on homelessness prevention programs that do not provide help to the poorest, as they don’t make enough income to qualify which is ridiculously ironic. But really, we are but a conduit for the politicians who ultimately have to make those changes happen.”

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