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Anti-poverty activist reflects on the importance of saving our social safety net

Harry Leslie Smith is the author of Harry’s Last Stand, an account of growing up poor in England, of seeing the welfare state raise a generation out of poverty and then seeing it systematically dismantled in the last 30 years. 

He will be speaking on the evening of Thursday December 4th at 519 Church Street Community Centre. The event is hosted by the Put Food in the Budget campaign which began in January 2009 in response to Premier McGuinty's decision to exclude an increase in social assistance rates for adults in Ontario from his poverty reduction strategy.

Click here to find out more about the December 4th event.

The Put Food in the Budget campaign had two demands: an immediate $100-a-month increase for every adult in Ontario receiving social assistance and that the proposed Social Assistance Review Commission recommend social assistance rates at a level that ensured a life of health and dignity.

On Friday morning, I spoke with Smith via telephone about what life was like being poor with no income supports or social programs to speak of and what its been like slowly watching the welfare state dismantled over the last 30 years in Canada and England.

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