I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions. It seems trite to choose one thing in your life that you'll change in a year. Let's be honest, most of us don't manage to follow through with our resolutions once February comes along. But this year I thought I'd give it a go.
I resolve to support the recommendations from the Put Food in the Budget discussion paper, Who Banks on Food Banks in Canada? I'll be encouraging the provincial government to increase Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (O/W) payments by $24 per month. This small increase would enable recipients to forgo the monthly trip to their local food bank and purchase healthier foods of their choosing instead.
I resolve to continue to ask the Wynne government why sole custody parents on ODSP and O/W continue to have their child support clawed back. When social assistance payments are 30 per cent below the poverty line for working poor individuals how can you adequately house, feed and clothe your children without the child support that you are entitled to? The Wynne government is suggesting changing this situation so that only 50 per cent would be clawed back, but why should any?
I resolve to continue to advocate for the implementation of a living wage for all Canadians.
I resolve to continue to petition the Wynne government to take Bill 14 one step further. The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) will soon have a new system in place allowing separated parents to establish and regularly update support payments through an online portal, without going to court. The service is being designed to enable the calculation of support, based on the Child Support Guidelines, using information from income tax returns with the parties' consent. Extending this service to include the automatic exchange of tax returns when payors refuse to do so voluntarily, even when in breach of court orders, will prevent abusive ex-partners from using the court system and FRO to continue financially abusing their exes and children.
I resolve to continue to call for a national enquiry into our missing and murdered Aboriginal sisters.
2015 will also be the year that I continue to support and promote the Up for Debate campaign that's asking the four federal leaders to hold a national debate dedicated solely to women's issues before the federal election.
Upon reflection, it seems to me that I may need some help fulfilling my resolutions.
So, I'm extending an invitation to each and every one of you without a resolution of your own, help me fulfill one of mine. Tweet, face book, email, snail mail or even speak with your city representatives, MPP, Premier, MP, Prime Minister, and federal candidates to let them know that you're concerned about the growing inequality that's permeating our communities and country.
Hopefully, 2015 will be that year.
Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.
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