'Chew On This': Regina advocates ask community to take bite out of poverty

Local advocates handed out apples and information in Regina on Thursday afternoon, as they joined a national movement with a goal of eliminating poverty.

Local anti-poverty advocates joined the national 'Chew On This' movement Thursday

Peter Gilmer helped hand out apples and pamphlets on Thursday as part of the Chew On This anti-poverty campaign. He said the government will begin to act if people demand change. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Anti-poverty advocates handed out apples and information in Regina on Thursday afternoon. 

Members of the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and the Making Peace Vigil were taking part in a national campaign — called Chew On This — to offer up solutions on how to possibly end poverty. 

The movement was national but the people who came out had specific concerns about what the province can do, and what it shouldn't, said Peter Gilmer, advocate with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry group. 

"We're very concerned that the 2017 provincial budget really took away from those with the least in our society to give to those with the most in our society," he said, adding they want to see enforceable legislation. 

He said politicians will listen if the community gets involved and calls for change, and raised concerns about programming cuts and tax breaks for corporations seen in the budget.

Furthermore, Gilmer said the latest minimum wage increase is not nearly enough and he would like to see a minimum wage in Saskatchewan that would begin to address poverty.  

"The reality is that a living wage in Regina would be just under $17 so there's a huge gap," he said, adding the province could start with a standard wage of $15 per hour. 

In a pamphlet handed out at the event, the Campaign for a Poverty-Free Canada says one in seven Canadians live in poverty and at least 250,000 are homeless. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

"What we are pushing for here, is a poverty-elimination act for the province of Saskatchewan that would also guarantee  the rights that we've committed ourselves to under international law." 

On a federal level, Gilmer said the groups would like to see a "human rights-based anti-poverty strategy."

The Canada-wide movement says the federal government has more resources than the province and calls on the feds to address income equality, housing, health and early childhood education. 

"These are not just public policy issues.... They're basic issues that need to be ensured for all Canada." 

Oct. 17 is the UN's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. According to the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and the Making Peace Vigil, a rally is planned for that day in front of the legislative building at 12 p.m. CST.