Media Release (Sudbury Coalition against Poverty ): Memo to Bartolucci: Stop the Cut to the to the Community Start-Up Fund

Apr 20, 2012

Media Release (Sudbury Coalition against Poverty ): Memo to Bartolucci: Stop the Cut to the to the Community Start-Up Fund

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"We are his constituents," said the thirty people who crowded into
Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office on April 19th. "He should be
representing us."

They came to demand that he speak out against the proposed cuts to the
provincial Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB). Sudbury
Police, summoned by his office staff, waited outside his office while
the group read personal statements about how the Community Start Up and
Maintenance Benefits have helped Sudburians. A copy of the group
statement as well as the personal statements were faxed to Rick
Bartolucci's Toronto office before the group left.

The Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit is currently available
for those on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program. People
with children can qualify for up to $1,500 every two years. For those
without children the maximum is $799 every two years. The proposed
budget cuts the amount of funding in half and the program is to be
transferred to the Ministry of Housing. There it would be folded into
the money given to municipalities to run housing and homelessness
programs. That means that half the money might be available to try to
assist a much larger number of people. How it would be administered, who
would be able to access it or what happens when the funding runs out
remains unclear. What was made clear by the group in the MPP's office
was that CSUMB as currently set up has been a life saver.

One of the personal statements read to Mr. Bartolucci's office staff
told how the CSUMB program helped a mother escape from an abusive
relationship. Another recounted trying to put back together a life after
hospitalization during which rent and bills fell two months behind and
an eviction notice was served. Yet another told of needing to replace a
refrigerator so that the couple with limited mobility could keep healthy
food in the house. The stories told of needing to buy essentials like
pots, mattresses and blankets. As one supporter wrote: "these are not
luxury items but basic essentials. And typically, the total funding
amount ever given could buy one bargain-basement bed, without box
spring, without a frame." Another personal statement concluded with: "My
family should not have to choose between food and other necessities, and
I am afraid that this cut to the start-up allowance will force that
choice on us and others in similar circumstances.

The gathering was organized by the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty, a
direct-action anti-poverty organization. Their mandate states: " We
provide direct-action support and work in assisting individuals in their
struggles with welfare and ODSP, housing, employers, and others who deny
people what they are entitled to. In addition, the group campaigns
against regressive government policies as they affect working people and
people living in poverty. The Sudbury Coalition against Poverty believes
in the power of people to organize themselves and the power of resistance."