Protests work, supporters of an anti-poverty group told about 40 people at a rally in Memorial Park downtown Tuesday afternoon.
Anna Harbulik, of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty, said the group's rallies helped get the province to partially restore cuts in homeless programs, in the form of transitional funding.
They protested in support of a shelter “for every night of the winter, and we have been successful with that,” Harbulik said.
“So it's something we must continue to do.”
Tuesday's noon rally was in support of the Raise the Rates campaign, a province-wide effort by anti-poverty groups to pressure the government to boost spending on social programs. Among their demands are:
- Raising minimum wage from $10.25 to $14, and index it to inflation;
- A 55-per-cent increase to social assistance rates;
- Restoration of homeless programs, especially the special diet and community start up benefits.
S-CAP will continue to “campaign against regressive and oppressive government policies that affect people living in poverty,” she said.
Another speaker, Wyman MacKinnon, supported the group's call to restore social assistance rates to what they were under the NDP government of Premier Bob Rae in the 1990s, before they were slashed by Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris.
MacKinnon, who is vice-president of the Sudbury District Labour Council and is running for a seat on city council, said he was impressed by the anti-poverty group's successes.
“I want to congratulate S-CAP on its great perseverance in keeping up this fight, for never wavering and for never backing down,” he said. “We are under attack, like never before in the province … Let's not become splinter groups, let's become one major group.”
He said the governing Liberals promised to reverse cuts from the Tory government, “but they failed us.”
While MacKinnon is a high-profile NDP supporter, Harbulik said the group is non-partisan, and instead will focus on campaigning on issues important to them ahead of the next provincial budget.
“We're not affiliated with any political party,” she said.