MONTREAL, Dec. 17, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of Project Genesis, disheartened by the recent provincial budget, delivered poverty gift baskets today to both the Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, Agnès Maltais, and to the Finance Minister, Nicolas Marceau. "We cannot understand why the government is refusing to implement measures that would alleviate poverty. We thought perhaps they don't understand what it is like to live in poverty, so, in a show of solidarity we created these gift baskets to explain to them how the rest of us live," said Susan Fitch, senior and member of Project Genesis's Anti-Poverty Committee.
The gift baskets contained turkeys made out of Kraft Dinner and Ramen Noodles, and some old fruits and vegetables found in the discount section of the grocery store. "After paying the rent and utilities, we only have 20 dollars left to buy groceries until my partner's next paycheque. I have been trying to find work but I just can't get anything," says Katrina Willis, student and member of the Anti-Poverty Committee. "I try to cut costs," adds Willis, "but eggs and milk are never on sale."
The solutions are simple and within the jurisdiction of the provincial government, according to the members of the Anti-Poverty Committee. They say that the government should build 50,000 social housing units over five years and increase the welfare rate. Lynne Martin, grandmother of five says "Living in social housing has definitely helped me to eat better. I have the money that I need to buy meat and fish and fresh produce. I have Crohn's disease and I get very sick and need to go to the hospital if I don't eat properly. There should be enough social housing for everyone who needs it."
The Public Health Agency of Canada has estimated that 20% of health care spending is a result of socio-economic disparities. Russell Harrison, committee member, says that "the tax system should not benefit those who accumulate wealth. Everyone should pay their fair share. The government should have kept its election promise to abolish the health tax and to create two new tax brackets for higher income earners. Now they are asking us to pay for the tax cuts of the previous government by increasing our hydro bills. That's just not right."
A single person living on welfare receives $589 a month, not enough to pay the rent and buy groceries, according to Cathy Inouye, Community Organiser at Project Genesis. "In Côte-des-Neiges, the average rent of a bachelor apartment is 546 dollars a month and an adult needs at least 200 dollars a month for a healthy diet. Instead of increasing the welfare rate, the Quebec Government has decided to cut 121 million dollars from the Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity. Instead of fighting poverty the government has chosen to exacerbate it."
SOURCE: Project Genesis
For further information:
Cathy Inouye at Project Genesis. (514) 738 2036 poste 403 Cell: (514) 583 1483