Hunger Strike Against Poverty and Hunger
Today, April 10th, marks the eighth day of Sara Anderson's hunger strike. She refuses to eat food or take her daily medication in protest against Ontario social assistance low rates and inaccessibility.
Sara Anderson, a single mother hailing from Grassy Narrows First Nations Territory, has embarked upon a hunger strike in protest of social assistance in Ontario.
“I’ve listened and watched and supported everybody that has tried to do something to change things and it is like they are just being ignored,” she said. “So, I am doing this so the government will increase Ontario Works for everyone, not just me.”
The welfare rates in Ontario are currently 40% of what they used to be prior to massive government cuts away from community and public resources. This means that people are forced to choose between paying the rent and buying food.
Sara herself has been denied Ontario dis/ability benefits twice, despite having debilitating injuries, chronic arthritis, migranes and depression. Receiving dis/ability benefits would ensure that Sara have uninterrupted access to her social assistance and increased financial assistance. Sara has stopped taking her daily medication as part of the strike.
She was also not alerted to the fact that she was eligible for hundreds of dollars in startup funds.
As a final insult, Sara was cut off from the Special Dietary supplement that she was receiving from the Ontario government, just to have it reinstated at a fraction of the original amount.
Unable to continue feeding herself and her daughter, she has seen no other way but to strike in an act of public protest. Her demands are as follows:
* the raising of the social assistance rates by 40%. This would bring the social assistance rates back to where they were in 1995 before the Tory cuts. As Sara puts it with the recent tiny increase by the Liberal government "Welfare rates went up by two percent, but our rent went up by more than that."
* making it easier for people living with disabilities to be able to get on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) which provides people with more financial support. As it stands many are routinely rejected when they apply. Sara's application for ODSP was rejected and this rejection was upheld by an internal review. She has an appeal scheduled in early May.
* the re-instatement of the previous Special Diet policy which allowed people on social assistance to receive funding for nutrition for themselves and their families. Sara recently had her Special Diet plummet from $75 a month under the old policy to only $20 with the new policy, a $55 cut in her and her daughter's monthly income;
* that all people on social assistance who move be offered community-start up funds to allow them to establish their new home. Sara was only given $90 for her move last fall when she should have been offered hundreds of dollars in start-up funds.
What you can do to support Sara Anderson:
* Sign the on-line petition at http://ocap.ca/rtr/diet/petition (at the Ontario
Coalition Against Poverty website) to Premier McGuinty calling for a major raise in social assistance rates and for re-instatement of the previous Special Diet policy. This petition has already been signed by more than 1,400 people.
* Write letters to, or call, Premier McGuinty (fax 416-325-3745 or write Dalton
McGuinty, Premier, Legislative Building, Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M7A
1A1) and Sudbury MPP and Cabinet Minister Rick Bartolucci (at 705-675-1914)