April 23, 2012

Let Justice Flow Down

Poverty and inequality don't just happen. There are things that we do in society that create poverty and inequality. And there are things we can do to reduce poverty and inequality.
Below is the text of a presentation I made at the annual meeting of the United Church Women Waterloo Presbytery on April 16, 2012. The UCW Waterloo Presbytery has been focusing on the theme "Let Justice Flow Down."

"Let justice flow down like a mighty river and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." (Amos 5:24)

That prophetic call comes halfway through the book of the prophet Amos. It is a book full of grim warnings about God's judgment on Israel.

And what were Israel's iniquities?

April 5, 2012

Asking a lot from low income Ontarians to balance the budget

Sharing the costs of austerity fairly doesn’t mean expecting the same contributions from everyone. It means that contributions are based on capacity. The lowest income Ontarians, whose health is most at risk, should not be expected to share equally in solving a deficit problem that was not of their making. -- Sheila Block, Wellesley Institute
We ask Mr. Duncan and Mr. McGuinty to hold their knives. We join with the doctors and say, Tax us. Ontario is worth it!” -- Omar Ha-Redeye, Lawyers for Tax Fairness
Strong Action for Ontario -- the title of the 2012 Provincial Budget -- takes an unbalanced approach to balancing the budget. According to Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, "for every dollar in new revenues outlined in the 2012 Budget, there are four dollars of savings and cost-containment measures."

Those cost-containment measures include proposed wage freezes for workers and executives across the public sector, including Members of Provincial Parliament it should be noted. 

But another group which will see their incomes frozen are the poorest in our province, people who rely on social assistance. And we should mention that the lowest paid workers, those who are paid the minimum wage, have a wage freeze for the second year in a row. Since the cost of living has risen, those wage and rate freezes mean a real loss in purchasing power for people who can least afford it.