Local “People’s Inquiry” supports a mock trial for Premier Wynne and members of her government.

December 4, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  She was somewhere between 35 – maybe touching 40.  Kleenex in her hands to manage the tears as she gave “testimony” before a mock trial that was held at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church on Guelph Line.

Appearing before three “citizen judges” this witness told of how she had to understand why she was marginalized.

“I once had a comfortable life, I had a car, the trappings, I had a good job, I had friends but then the downsizing took place and I was the one with a new child that was not well and needed a lot of time and attention.

“I has RRSP’s and I knew how to manage.  All that can and did change for me more rapidly than I ever imagined possible.

“I have had to move five times in the last three years.  As a last desperate attempt to find accommodation I could afford I tried sharing accommodation with another single mother – but it didn’t work out and I had to call my case worked when my son was threatened by a child with scissors.  In a flash I was homeless – marginalized.

“I was poor, I was unworthy and made to feel like a low life.

“I was food insecure.  I was housing insecure.

“I felt un-liked, wasted, humiliated – embarrassed.  I began to feel invisible.  People that were part of your life change when you are poor.  I was seen as someone with a disease, as someone with an affliction.

“I couldn’t get a job – no one would take a chance on me.

“People in my situation are looked upon as lazy, as people who chose the life they are living.

“There is no poverty in Burlington because we don’t see poor people on the streets.  For those of us who are very low income people paying $1000 a month for a one bedroom apartment just isn’t possible.

“The politicians don’t understand what it means to be marginalized.”

They sat as ‘citizen judges’ hearing testimony from the marginalized and delivered a verdict that the Premier of the province should be brought before a mock trial in Toronto and charged with failing to live up to her promise to run a social justice government.

This witness was one of several who gave “testimony” in Burlington on Wednesday at a “People’s Inquiry”.  It is one of 20 being held across the province and will culminate in a mock trial in Toronto where the Premier Kathleen Wynne, her Finance Minister and Minister of Community and Social Services will be served with a summons charging them with failing to deliver on the promise to be a social justice government.

The marginalized believe that the Premier has described herself as a social justice advocate and tells the public that is who she is – but those who are on the receiving end of social support see little justice in what they are receiving.

Mike Balkwill, part of a group of community activists working under the Put Food in the Budget umbrella,  asked the 20 or so people at the Burlington inquiry what they felt they could do to have the Premier act on her social justice promise.  The local People’s Inquiries” and the mock trail planned for some time in February are designed to draw attention to where the Premier is failing.

Premier Wynne told the media that social justice is her top priority. A tough statement to take at face value when there are 400,000 people using food banks every month in Ontario.  Wynne’s claim “is believable only if she significantly increases social assistance rates and puts food in the budget of people who are poor in Ontario.”  It is her failure to make even a meaningful increase in assistance that has her being brought before a mock trial.

Wynne runs a minority government and at some point she is going to have to go to the people and ask for their support.  We will support her – will she support us? Was the question most of the people at the Burlington Inquiry were asking.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

16 comments to Local “People’s Inquiry” supports a mock trial for Premier Wynne and members of her government.

  • Jerry Bloomfield

    House prices are due to open market conditions. Developers build houses and employ people. It is likely most people live in a house somebody else built. Housing affordability is an issue, but, nobody is going to build you a place to live for free; that system collapsed about 25 years ago.

    A large chunk of a new house price includes what are called development charges which are intended to pay for roads, schools, hospitals, etc. The problem with these charges is they are directly passed on to the people who buy a house. There is a lot of risk in development and the profit margins are thinning. The other problem with these charges is that they are a result of the management of government as to how money is spent on government services. The developers are not to blame, its city hall you need to fix, as well as Queens Park.

    So, to the point. A $1B dollar loss as managed by the Liberals could have gone a long way to assist the people you support under your philosophy. $1B dollars can buy how many houses for people like you?

    • Susan Lewis

      “People like you”?

      Do you know Ms. Turbitt?

      Often, differences of opinion can devolve into personal attacks.

      • Jerry Bloomfield

        What one can infer from Ms. Turbitt’s comments is that she is one of many people frustrated by a lack of affordable housing supply; and also goes on to defend the Liberal government. All can agree on the problem with lack of affordable housing and the ongoing frustrations by people, like you, like me, like them, like others, like everybody…..

        If one takes the Liberal loss of $1B, one could provide approximately:

        1,000 homes worth $1M each;
        2,000 homes worth $500K each;
        4,000 homes worth $250K each;
        5,000 homes worth $200K each.

        People like you and Ms. Turbitt can now decide which of the above calculations fits the definition of affordable housing, and then proceed to select an affordable house for one self.

        The problem is the money is gone on the costs of penalties associated with another Liberal priority worth the same amount of tax dollars not spent wisely.

        So, not only is affordable housing an ongoing issue that needs to be seriously addressed by city hall, the regional and provincial governments, the money the gov’t could have spent on housing is gone.

        5,000 affordable housing units could have been supplied in this city with the Liberal loss; or, approximately 10% of this city’s total housing stock.

        • Susan Lewis

          “People like you and Ms. Turbitt can now decide which of the above calculations fits the definition of affordable housing, and then proceed to select an affordable house for one self.”
          – Thank you for the advice but I have already selected an affordable house, I own my home and I`m mortgage free.

          You have often mentioned the Liberal Government’s wasting money. In my opinion, all political parties seem to have a secret “Ministry of Burning Money”.

          I also believe that if any Provincial Government had an extra $1 Billion, they would spend it on something other than affordable housing anyway.

          • Jerry Bloomfield

            You bring up another good point. Instead of affordable housing, $1B could pay for Burlington’s new hospital.

            And, maybe all those people who are mortgage free, like you, can provide rooms, and apartment space, at affordable rental rates for people seeking affordable living accommodations. There are a lot of options out there that need to be explored in collaboration with all levels of government and market participants.

            I believe with a positive attitude, and optimistic idea sharing, we can together come up with a variety of viable options.

    • Joan Turbitt

      We can play this political ping pong game of Party blaming ad infinitum. The fact remains that All persons deserve a home and I do not necessarily mean their own house. For some, that is a distant dream never to become a reality in this economy of corp. greed over incividual need. Housing is a human right. Apartments can be built and financed as was the VLA housing financing which worked perfectly for the vets and families. Additionally I said that their should be housing as in somewhere appropriate and large enough for everyone to live in and affordable at ALL Income Levels not just those earning the average 120k per house hold in Burl. The current economy is predicated on a 2 plus income per household which means that single income households cannot manage. Yes, some professionals could but most single income fam. are young, senior, disabled, widowed etc etc. We all deserve a place to live and yes there are many ideas out there and they do not have to include a woman to open her home to strangers. I see you did not include yourself in that offer. We do not need money for fighter jets as we are a nation of peacekeepers and have lost a lot of international respect because we do not live up to that reputation any more. Many Canadians mostly men being murdered. There needs to be sufficient money put in to every pot not totally neglected and expect people to accept it. For the Federal gov. to opt out of housing funding and for Canada to not have A National Housing Stategy is appalling especially where it is needed for seniors to live independently as Dr. Simka is trying to accomplish.
      We should not have to wait until our own family members or ourselves are in this position to do something about it. First we need the political will and the agreement through election of the party who will do it by the collective voters.

      To Lesley Gabos please contact me through the Gazette or post another comment so I can be of assistance to you. Joan

      • Jerry Bloomfield

        Well I would not hold my breath for the Liberals, they burned $1B that could have accommodated thousands of families in need of affordable housing. From my calculations above, the Liberals could have completely alleviated the affordable housing issue in Burlington (5,000 homes equals approximately 20,000 individuals).

        As for political will and elections, I’m guessing you and I should be securing political will from the other parties; actually. Actually why wait; why don’t we just walk down Brant Street and speak with our Mayor. We can start the political will process without elections.

    • Joan Turbitt

      You seen to be rigidly focused on attacking the Prov. Libs when I have been discussing the Federal Gov. and the lack of downloading each Prov. percapaita share of tax dollars to then be downloaded to the municipalities in the same percapita percentage to be used for housing based on 30% of income and health care and transit.

      If you can only be a “Johnny one-note” why sing? Spare the public the mundane.

      You speak earlier of how you “believe with a positive attitude and optimistic idea sharing we cana together come up with a variety of viable options.” You have shown nothing of positive attitude or optimistic idea sharing for comint together with a variety of viable options, you seem hell bent on attacking myself without knowing any of the facts Any. What is your stake in this process? What is it to you if millions of people not just here in ‘Burlington but in Canada and I dare say the world who do not have sufficient housing seek to obtain it as is their human right? You come off sounding mean spirited and judgemental without any obvious kowledge of any of this process.

      If you have nothing positive or informative in actual fact to contribute I suggest you find another issue to beat up on. This issue is much too serious and important to so many to give time to such banal insults. Find yourself something proactive to do and thank God you do not have the same misfortune to contand with, in other words be grateful of your good fortune and do not condemn those who have not for no fault of their own.

      • Stanislaw (Stan) Staszynski

        They are currently having difficulty giving away homes for free in the city of Detroit; that’s just across the border from Windsor.

        I think if we go down to city hall and ask for affordable housing, maybe something will happen; we should start here in our own backyard before trying to save the rest of the world. If houses are to be given away for almost $0 in a city not more than 3 hours drive away, then why not in Burlington?

    • Joan Turbitt

      Stan FYI many people many times have gone to city hall to ask for affordable housing, as well there have been countless meetings over decades on this subject. Most recently a mtg was held at the Ron Joyce Centre on this topic with many agencies involved in attendance including Halton Region. The need for it is endless in scope and reasons not given endless in number the discussions are how to effectively cost wise and practicality wise accomplish this and encourage the political will to do so. When I said indeed in the world (housing is needed) it is true I did not mention we were advocating actively for the world but for a National Housing Strategy in Canada which especially includes seniors for independent living.
      It is doubtful you will ever find houses given away free in Burlington or any where else nearby as far as I can see. It seems developers cannot provide housing at a rate that single income house holds can afford and that is our struggle to achieve housing that single income households can afford paying no more than 30% of their income in order to have sufficient income left to live on.
      This is no news to city hall mabe to you but I suggest you google the housing agencies in Halton and learn what is available and who is fighting for housing and why.

      • Mr. Wonderful

        Mr. Wonderful here. Good thing I pop by once in a while. Why all the fuss?

        No more meetings at the Ron Joyce Centre; time for action. I know of possible solutions where even the city can act alone, without regional input, or provincial or federal involvement, and provide affordable housing options to a wide variety of people affected by different situations. There are some very viable and accommodating solutions to the affordable housing problem; solutions that can be sustained for the long term.

        I remember our Mayor recently making comments that affordable housing is virtually impossible to support for the long term, when he was speaking about the s.37 density bonus issue at the new development just east of Brant Street. (he said “affordable housing can only be guaranteed for the first buyer/occupier of a new housing unit”; he is wrong and uninformed about this issue, because he has no experience beyond the limits of this city and he has no motivation to engage in a highly politically sensitive discussion that he feels he cant win, because he has no experience or knowledge in how to deal with such matters).

        But I can tell you Joan, there are ways to achieve what you are trying to promote. There are answers, and they come from knowing how. You just have to find the right person who knows and can show you the way, and that person does not exist at city hall council. But, it does include the participation of the development community.

        Mr. Wonderful will provide answers and will be keeping a close eye on this and other truly important issues affecting all people and not just the rich. God bless you Joan.

    • Joan Turbitt

      “Mr. Wonderful” well thank you for that. You will note that I did not address these emails to the City Council but in response to the Poor People’s Inquiry held at St. Christophers Church where the Burlington Gazette was present and reported here.
      I too am aware of the possibilities of s37 and that it can be permanent. I also am aware of financing for housing affordable at 30% of a persons income as well it has been done and was most successful.
      Also it was not free and am unaware of any housing that was free as Mr. Bloomfield said which along with everything else he said was innacurate. I thank you for these comments and if you are sincere look forward to implementing this kind of housing asap. You may or may not be aware that the waiting list is up to 12 years long for some. At any rate it is too long for all. I know personally of some very desperate situations that need help immediately and there is no reason that it is not there. As Michaael Shapcott said at the mtg at the Ron Joyce Centre there is no need for not having housing one can afford in Halton as one of the wealthiest Cities in Canada and he is right.
      Thanks for the blessing much nicer than being attacked for no reason except someone who thinks they are morally suprior to those who need housing affordable to their income and likely backed by his political affiliations. God Bless you as well.

  • Joan Turbitt

    As Isaid at the ppiq at St. Chris. in Burl. The evidence isin the math. If anyone thinks a 1% increase per year can be of any significance, when everything else rent, hydro, utilities, interest rates on credit cards etc, health care, groceries are all going up double digits.

    Does the government think We are that stupid or is it they who are?

    I disagree that a Liberal government would be a bad thing, considering that the problem with all people marginalized from downsizing, rapidly rising cost for everything that is the responsibility of the Federal right wing government.
    In 1995 or 6 the Harris Gov. took 21.6% away from all social assistance cheques and this has never been replaced along with the attendant real cost of living increases.
    These should be replaced from that date to this and be kept up to date withthe true cost of living and ensure everyone is receiving income above the poverly level.
    Whether people are working full time or retired or on disability no one should have to live below the poverty level.

    No, living in poverty is not a life style choice it is a choice made by governmemts at the behest of corporations interested in their greed not citizens need. Another reason why as one of the wealthiest cities we have so many people living in poverty.

    Additionally if developers do not wish to build housing that people of all incomes can afford then I suggest they go elsewhere and we find developers who will.

    Enough is enough. Everyone deserves a decent sized and priced place to live it is a human right.

    The story you mentioned I have heard many hundreds of times of peope who were gainfully employed in every field, and suddenly their company closed and moved overseas and paid workers pennies on the dollar and our now unemployed citizens had to apply for welfare and food banks.

    Not their fault as anyone over 40 can tell you if they have had to leave the employment for any reason they can not get back in. ONly those between 18 and 40 are being employed.

    Bring back these companies who say they are Canadian but operate overseas or else treat them as foreign companies are treated.

    Replace these companies and have them run by and employed by Canadians. That is just a start.

    “Build housing by developers with an interest in creating homes for all not just those in the 100K plus households.

    • MR Lesley Gabos

      yes i agree that the cost of living should be reto active from 1905 and increased every year to the cost of living ever year. My wife and i are strugling just to put food on the table I am disabled my wife is not so the 1 persent increase is $11.00 not enough for us with every thin else going up Please help thank you Lesley Gabos

  • Tony Robinson

    Wynne was not elected. The Liberals threw her under the bus to take the hit on the $1Billion gas plant loss. A liberal social justice program will further weaken our economy and put more people into a marginalized state of existence. The Liberals are sucking the life out of this province.

    • Nancy Ryckman

      I could have not said that better …. so true.. things will not change. They have failed on every level and will continue to do so.