ISARC protesters demand $100 food supplement for the poor

By 
  • March 10, 2011
Protesters are demanding a $100 food supplement in the upcoming provincial budget. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - Standing in the rain outside Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan's office with about 100 church-based protesters demanding a $100 food supplement in the up-coming provincial budget, Redemptorist Father Paul Hansen said he was there for the sake of the Eucharist.

"The Eucharist is first a verb before it's a noun," he said.

Appealing to the most ancient Catholic belief in the corpus mysticum Christi, that the people of God are the body of Christ, Hansen said we can't ignore the hunger and poverty of parts of the body of Christ.

"This is a community gathered today concerned with the broken body of Christ," he said.

Most of the protesters at the March 10 event organized by the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition were church-based food bank volunteers.

"For Christians this is a core issue about sharing in the human family," said Bishop Linda Nicholls of the Anglican diocese of Toronto.

The protesters all know the budget is already written, she said.

"Anything can be changed. There has to be the potential it can be changed," she said.

Huddled under umbrellas, the protesters gathered around a table displaying fresh fruit and vegitables, food they claimed people on welfare can't afford.

"I want to thank the Church leaders who have made this an issue," said NDP poverty critic Michael Prue.

"Real welfare rates have gone down since the Harris years," declared NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, a United Church minister.

"Where's the compassion? Where's the ethicality?"

Welfare nets a single person $592 per month, up 12.2 per cent since 1995 before accounting for inflation.

More than 400,000 people per month use food banks in Ontario, according to the Ontario Food Bank Association.

The "Put food in the Budget" campaign got a big push from 80 Anglican parishes in the Greater Toronto Area, representing about 30,000 Anglicans. The parishes all passed resolutions in support of the $100 food supplement for people on welfare.

Duncan has promised no taxes increases in the upcoming budget. The province has a deficit just under $19 billion.

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