CUPE’s Poverty Reduction Proposal

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CUPE Ontario will make a deputation this afternoon that will propose three policy shifts that the government must make in order to achieve a reduction of poverty in the province…

TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) Ontario is proposing three new policy shifts that the government 
must make if it is serious about its poverty reduction strategy, in a 
deputation to be given today at 2:00 pm at the province's pre-budget 
consultations. These shifts include an end to low wage policies, an end to 
user fees and taxes for low-income people, and creative agreements with 
the public sector to address issues such as kids at risk and affordable 
housing, according to CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan.
    "The government can't be calling for reductions in poverty and on the
other hand be promoting low wage policies," says Ryan. "Given that a union 
job is the number one poverty fighter, this government needs to restore 
card-check based certification to make it easier for workers to join a union." 
Ryan cites the province's home care competitive bidding policy as another 
low wage policy. Along with forcing frequent job changes, average wages 
for home care workers are approximately $12 an hour with little or no 
benefits, about $6 an hour less than what they would earn in a hospital.
    The second policy shift proposed by CUPE Ontario would end all public
sector user fees and taxes for families under the low-income cut off.
"Families need free access to things like public transit to get to school and
jobs, medical services such as eye, dental and drug programs, free day care
and access to early education opportunities in order to have a chance to 
break the cycle of poverty," says Ryan.
    CUPE Ontario's third proposed policy shift is to open up the public sector 

in various tri-partite agreements to address aspects of poverty like job 
training and mentorship for young people at risk. As an example, Ryan cites 
the agreement between CUPE, the Saskatchewan Association of Health
Organizations and the Saskatchewan government that has increased 
Aboriginal representation in the health care workforce from 1% to 5% in 
four years.
    Such agreements could also offer a potential solution for investment in
affordable housing like co-ops. "CUPE Ontario has long fought against the
investment of workers' pension funds in privatization and P3 schemes," 
says Ryan. "Instead of investing our pension funds in bad public and 
financial policies, we invite the government to work with us to fund public
infrastructure like housing for low-income Ontarians."
    CUPE Ontario is challenging every provincial ministry to review its
policies and develop plans that will support a decent standard of living for
workers and bring down all barriers to services needed services by low 
income and welfare recipients.
   

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