Windsor

Group puts spotlight on poverty for election

Since the last provincial election, the rate of poverty in Ontario increased faster than anywhere else in Canada and poverty activists in Windsor, Ont., want to ensure the plight of the underprivileged is on the agenda for the upcoming election.
Poverty activists want to ensure the plight of the underprivileged is on the agenda for the upcoming election. (Pat Jeflyn/CBC)

Since the last provincial election, the rate of poverty in Ontario increased faster than anywhere else in Canada and poverty activists in Windsor, Ont., want to ensure the plight of the underprivileged is on the agenda for the upcoming election.

The rate of people experiencing poverty stood at 13.1 per cent in 2009, or 1.7 million people in Ontario, according to Statistics Canada measures of people with low incomes. That represents a 17 per cent increase since 2007.

In Windsor, the numbers were even more stark, showing the percentage of people with low incomes rising from 12.1 to 15.7 per cent over the same period — a 30 per cent increase.

On Tuesday, the group launched a new website called "Remember the Day."  The site features a video which is the first in a series designed to challenge assumptions about what leads to poverty, said Adam Vasey, Director at Pathway to Potential.

"It's a lot about trying to shatter the myths and the stigma associated with poverty... that it's a choice or it's something that, you know, only happens to people who are lazy," Vasey said. "That was really the impetus for this project," Vasey said.

The message is that poverty can happen to anyone, he said.

"Things like domestic violence or critical illness or things like that, a job loss, things that can happen to anybody but that often times are what put people over the edge into experiencing poverty," said Vasey.

Adrian McKenzie, a community organizer, said the group will ask each of the parties and candidates what they are going to do to address poverty issues.

They're also asking the public to post videos and comments that contribute to their theme of busting poverty myths, he said.

A new video will be added to the website each week until election day.