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They Are Rich Because They Make Us Poor

FEAST AND MARCH IN YORKVILLE
Meet on Cumberland
(North of Bloor, West of Bay)
Saturday, August 23rd,
From 7.00 PM

The minimum wage has been frozen since the Tories took power. It
stands at a miserly $6.85 an hour. Funding to the Ministry of Labour has
also been gutted to make enforcement of the Employment Standards Act a
virtual impossibility and the Act itself has been drastically weakened.
Profits for the most exploitive employers have swollen to the point where
a spot of relaxation in Yorkville is easy to come by.

Gouging landlords have a friend in Ernie Eves. The Tory 'Tenant
Protection Act' has made evictions simple and easy and it means that once
tenants have been put on the streets, landlords are free to raise the rent
at will. They have created a system of drive through justice for
landlords in Ontario.

Funds that used to go to poor people in the form of social housing
projects and social assistance payments have been handed directly to the
rich. Social housing has been frozen since the Tories took power. In
1995, they cut welfare rates by 21.6%. Since then, the lack of any
increase has meant that the spending power of welfare cheques has fallen
by close to 40%. A single person gets a maximum of only $520 a month.

The Tory tax cuts are the other side of the coin. More than half
of the money has gone to the top 13% on the income scale. One corporate
CEO raking in $1 million a year would receive, in the form of a tax cut,
the amount of cash that was cut from the income of seventeen single parent
families on welfare. That's fifty-one people (thirty four of them
children) thrown deeper into poverty to pay for a tax break for a person
already raking in an obscene seven figure income income! The tax breaks
to the rich and the cuts to the poor on welfare can be charted by
comparing neighbourhoods at both ends of the income scale. $1 million
dollars a month that used to go into the community of Regent Park now
comes to the hard-pressed folks of Rosedale in the form of tax cuts.

Let's imagine that our million-dollar business executive decides
on a Saturday night out in Yorkville. As we just saw, the Tories were
kind enough to hand him the income of the fifty one people on welfare so
he stuffs some of this in his wallet, stops by to pick up a friend and
heads out. His friend is also a 'client' and so he can afford to be
generous since he can reclaim a portion of the money he spends as a 'business entertainment'
expense. The duo drop into Bellini's Italian restaurant. They have Pan
Sealed Quebec Fois Gras to start off, tuck into Rack of Lamb, munch on
Fresh Berries, savour a couple of cognacs and wash down the lot with a
bottle of 1952 Barola Riserva from the 'Private Cellar'. At the end of
all this, they have run up a tab of $765. One of our friend's minimum
wage workers would have had to set aside just over 111 hours worth of
wages to pay for the meal. Nor have we picked anything like the most
extreme example available. In the Four Season's 'fine dining'
establishment, 'Truffles', they offer a bottle of wine at the bargain rate
of $3,500!

The overcrowded shelters the homeless sleep in blocks away from
these establishments fail to meet basic standards set by the United
Nations for refugee camps. 2,000 people are evicted from their housing
every month in Toronto because they can't afford to feed their families
and pay the rent. 150,000 a month in this City turn to food banks to try
and survive. Then there's Saturday night in Yorkville.

The Tory election platform, 'the Road Ahead', is a blueprint to
make sure the inequality gets worse and the suffering increases. The
McGuinty Liberals would not interfere with the free ride of the rich and
must be challenged immediately if they take power. Poor and working
people have to organize and resist. We are planning to fight Eves and
whoever follows him. On August 23rd , we will dine at the Tory Trough and
march through a major playpen for the rich. Poverty won't be hidden that
night and wealth will not go unchallenged.

Please help us build the Feast in Yorkville. We need help to
procure and prepare the food. We need people who want to poster and
leaflet for the event. We need other organizations to mobilize for the
night and stand in solidarity with us. To get involved or for more
information, contact OCAP without delay.

**
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
517 College Street, Suite 234 Toronto, Ontario M6G 4A2
416-925-6939 ocap@tao.ca