There’s a growing crisis of rural poverty in eastern Ontario, says a coalition of community and social service groups.
The October 2017 report Invest in Rural Resiliency: Address Poverty highlights the challenges facing residents of rural areas who rely on seasonal income from tourism and cottagers, while local industry disappears. People have to leave the area to find work. If they stay, there’s little work to be had and local government is starved of revenue to maintain support systems — like public transit — that urban residents expect to have available.
The report wants to make the basics of life available to all, and calls on the province to make immediate investments:
- Raise social assistance rates to at least the Basic Income pilot level, and index them to the real cost of living as experienced by poor people.
- Stop the claw backs as people pursue self-employment opportunities
- Subsidize housing and housing repair.
- Increase subsidies for utilities (electricity, heat and water).
- Fund rural transportation.
- Fund community agencies to improve services to rural people—including food security, mental
- health and addiction treatment services.
- Engage rural communities in developing vibrant, healthy and sustainable communities that meet the needs of local residents—as well as seasonal residents and visitors.
The statement was created by these groups:
- North Hastings Community Trust
- Community Development Council of Quinte
- Rural Frontenac Community Services
- The Table Community Food Centre
- Poverty Round Table Hastings, Prince Edward