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Apr 17, 2006



Five yrs ago (April/2001), a woman from a neighbouring community from me named Kimberly Rogers was convicted of welfare fraud for collecting students loans while receiving social assistance (this became illegal after the Conservatives came to power in Ontario in 1995).

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 6 months house arrest, 18 months probabtion, ordered to repay the $13,600 overpayment, and had her welfare benefits suspended, leaving her alone and isolated in a tiny little 3rd floor apartment.

She was 5 months pregnant, without any income, unable to pay her rent, unable to feed herself & her unborn child, and unable to purchase prescription medication to treat her depression and anxiety disorder.

Kimberly launched a legal challenge and a Toronto judge re-instated her welfare benefits ($520 a month) and access to medical benefits pending the appeal. From her $520 benefit cheque, she had $52 deducted by the Ministry to reduce her overpayment.

Once her rent was paid, she was left with only $18 a month with which to live on -- who can live on $18 a month to purchase groceries, laundry, telephone, cleansers, personal hygience products, and
pay for transportation for the 3 hours a week she was allowed to leave her apartment,

A few months later (Aug/2001), 8 months pregnant, Kimberly Rogers was found dead in her tiny apartment, during one of the worst heat waves to hit Ontario.

The Inquest Jury found in Dec. 2002, that the cause of her death was suicide from a massive overdose of anti-depressants.

The circumstances of her death, and the draconian government policies (welfare rates slashed by 21.6%, lifetime welfare ban for anyone convicted of welfare fraud) that contributed to her death, had a profound effect on me.

Although I never had the opportunity to meet Kimberly Rogers in real time, I attended much of the Inquest as a representative for one of the organizations that had been granted intervenor status at the Inquest and tried to honour Kimberly by supporting and
caring for her mother during the Inquest.

Sitting in the court room for so many days, often with her mother, afforded me the opportunity to learn much about this courageous woman who was brave enough to launch a charter challenge and expose herself to a lot of negative media/public attention.

I vowed to do whatever I could to make a difference and advocate for an end to the lifetime welfare ban. The lifetime welfare ban was finally eliminated in 2005. I am proud to have been a part of the movement that battled for abolishing the Ban.

However, we have a very long way towards achieving any progress in Ontario -- to realize any measure of true progress, it is my belief that we must eliminate poverty. And frankly, we in Ontario can't sit around and wait for our elected officials to do it because once they're elected, a string of broken promises follows.

The Canadian government, 15 years ago, set a goal to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000.

Yet today in Ontario alone, more than 443,000 children live in poverty. And 49 per cent of immigrant children who've been in Canada for at least five years live in poverty.

In Canada, an astounding ONE MILLION Canadian children live in poverty with our Aboriginal youth disproportionately affected.

800,000 Canadians use food banks every month and 40% of food bank patrons are children!

And today I learned that globally, due to Malaria alone, a child dies every 30 seconds, totalling more than 1 million deaths a year. This is simply unacceptable.

So I plug away on my keyboard doing my part to inform, organize and mobilize Ontarians to take action re:

*
raising the minimum wage,
* raising social assistance rates,
* ending the clawback of the National Child Benefit Supplement,
* affordable and supportive housing,
* options for early learning and child care services,

... and the list goes on ...

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Monday April 17, 2006, 10:53 pm
Tags: poverty [add/edit tags]

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Saddam E. (6)
Monday April 17, 2006, 11:50 pm
i give a high-five to that lady. well, i dont remember but didnt someone started an act of some sort to eliminate poverty for a "Great Society", i believe it was President Truman or Kennedy, i forgot. i never read that that law was vetoed later on at all, so im surprise people are still in poverty today, even with social security!

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Barbara Anello
female , married, 2 children
North Bay, ON, Canada
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