Transcript: Facing Poverty in London | Feb 28, 2017

Steve stands in a warehouse, where dozens of people sit in chairs behind him. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and blue tie.

A wall panel behind him reads "The Agenda, with Steve Paikin."

Steve says OKAY, EVERYBODY.
WELCOME TO THE
WOODWORKING SHOP AT THE
DONALD J. SMITH SCHOOL OF
BUILDING TECHNOLOGY AT FANSHAWE
COLLEGE IN LONDON, ONTARIO,
WHICH IN JUST A FEW MONTHS WILL
CELEBRATE ITS 50th ANNIVERSARY.
FANTASTIC.
GIVEN SOME HARD ECONOMIC TIMES
OVER THE PAST DECADE, YOU WON'T
BE SURPRISED TO LEARN LONDON,
ONTARIO HAS A POVERTY PROBLEM.

A newspaper article titled "'Brutal' poverty plagues London like few other cities across our region" flashes by.
Another article bit reads "second highest rate of working poor in Ontario."

Steve continues IT'S GOT THE SECOND HIGHEST
WORKING POOR POPULATION IN THE
PROVINCE.

A pie chart shows an amount marked as 17 percent. Then, a bar chart made of human figures shows 24 percent.

Steve continues 17 percent OF LONDONERS ARE LIVING IN
POVERTY AND 24 percent OF ALL CHILDREN
LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LINE.
A 2011 STUDY FOUND THAT ONE OUT
OF EVERY SEVEN HOUSEHOLDS IN
LONDON COULD NOT AFFORD
ADEQUATE, SUITABLE, AND
AFFORDABLE SHELTER. AND WITH A
6.3 percent UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AND ONE
OF THE LOWEST LABOUR
PARTICIPATION RATES IN THE
PROVINCE, IT CAN BE TOUGH FOR
ANYONE DISPLACED FROM WORK TO
STOP, OR REVERSE, THE SLIDE INTO POVERTY.

A pie chart shows that the participation rate is 59.6 percent of the population 15 years and older.

Steve continues JOINING US NOW TO SHED MORE
LIGHT ON THIS ISSUE:
WE WELCOME:
KELLY ZIEGNER, CEO OF UNITED
WAY, LONDON AND MIDDLESEX...

Kelly is in her forties, with short blond hair and side-swept bangs. She's wearing a gray blazer over a gray blouse.

Steve continues JACQUELINE THOMPSON, EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR OF LIFESPIN...

Jacqueline is in her sixties, with short wavy gray hair. She's wearing a gray blazer and a golden silk scarf.

Steve continues VANESSA AMBTMAN-SMITH,
ABORIGINAL HEALTH LEAD FOR THE
SOUTH WEST LOCAL HEALTH
INTEGRATION NETWORK...

Vanessa is in her thirties, with long brown hair in a bun. She's wearing a dark blue patterned blouse.

Steve continues AND TRACY SMITH-CARRIER,
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN THE
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK, WESTERN UNIVERSITY.

Tracy is in her late thirties, with chin-length blond hair. She's wearing a gray blazer and a silver chain necklace.

Steve continues HOW ABOUT A LONDON, ONTARIO
WELCOME FOR ALL OF OUR GUESTS
HERE THIS EVENING, PLEASE?
THANK YOU.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve continues THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH FOR
COMING HERE THIS EVENING, AND I
WANT TO START BY JUST PUTTING UP
A GRAPHIC HERE WHICH WILL
EMBELLISH A BIT ON THE NUMBERS
WE JUST SHOWED.
SHELDON, LET'S GO TO THIS, IF WE
COULD. HERE'S THE NUMBERS ON POVERTY.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Poverty by the numbers."

Steve reads data from the slate and says 1 IN 12 PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN
QUOTE, UNQUOTE, SEVERE POVERTY,
BY THAT WE MEAN GETTING BY ON
LESS THAN 11,000 dollars A YEAR AND
YOU'RE A SINGLE PERSON, LESS
THAN 19,000 dollars A YEAR IF YOU'RE A
SINGLE PARENT.
OR IF YOU'RE A COUPLE THAT MEANS
LIVING ON LESS THAN 21,000 dollars PER YEAR.
AND ONE IN TWELVE IN THE LONDON
AREA ARE LIVING ON SOCIAL
ASSISTANCE.

The caption changes to "@spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve continues WE WANT TO GET A SENSE OF HOW
BAD POVERTY IS IN THIS AREA, I
GUESS COMPARED TO OTHER PARTS OF
THE PROVINCE.
KELLY, GIVE US YOUR SENSE OF HOW
YOU FEEL THINGS ARE RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "Kelly Ziegner. United Way London and Middlesex."
Then, it changes again to "A growing problem."

Kelly says I THINK OUR
ECONOMY IS CHANGING AND THE FACE
OF POVERTY IN OUR COMMUNITY IS
CHANGING.
AS WE'VE HAD MORE AND MORE PLANT
CLOSURES, THE PEOPLE THAT WERE
ONCE DONORS TO ORGANIZATIONS
LIKE THE UNITED WAY OR
SUPPORTING OUR COMMUNITY ARE NOW
FINDING THEMSELVES IN FINDING
PRECARIOUS WORK OR NOT BEING
ABLE TO FIND WORK AT ALL.
THOSE WHO WERE ONCE OUR DONORS
ARE NOW PEOPLE TURNING TO THEIR
COMMUNITY AND TO THEIR
NEIGHBOURS FOR HELP THEMSELVES.

Steve says THAT'S
HEARTBREAKING.

Kelly says IT IS, YEAH.

Steve says YOU SEE TOO MUCH OF
THIS?

Kelly says WE DO.

Steve says TRACY, HOW DOES
LONDON COMPARE, THIS IS YOUR
AREA OF RESEARCH, HOW DOES IT
COMPARE TO OTHER PARTS OF
ONTARIO?

The caption changes to "Tracy Smith-Carrier. Western University."

Tracy says WELL,
I GUESS WHAT YOU MENTIONED
EARLIER ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE
USED TO BE ABOVE THE NATIONAL
AVERAGE, NOW WE'RE BELOW, AND
THAT'S HAPPENED OVER THE LAST
DECADE.
SO CERTAINLY THINGS LIKE, WELL,
OVERALL, POVERTY HAS DECLINED
SLIGHTLY OVER THE LAST FEW
YEARS, SINCE 2007, WHICH IS GOOD
FOR EVERYBODY, INCLUDING LONDON.
BUT OVERALL IN LONDON, WE'RE NOT
SEEING SORT OF THE PROGRESS IN
THE REDUCTIONS OF POVERTY AS
OTHER PLACES.
SO LONDON IS THE SECOND... HAS
THE SECOND LOWEST RATE FOR
EMPLOYMENT.
THE THIRD LOWEST RATE FOR LOW
INCOME.
THE SECOND HIGHEST RATE FOR
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE USE.
SO THAT... THAT GIVES US CAUSE
FOR CONCERN CONSIDERING WHERE WE
WERE BEFORE, WHERE WE WERE MUCH
HIGHER THAN THOSE NATIONAL
AVERAGES.

Steve says JACQUELINE, WE
TALKED A BIT ABOUT THIS LAST
NIGHT, BUT THAT MAY COME AS A
SURPRISE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO
THINK OF LONDON AS KIND OF, YOU
KNOW, OLD MONEY, INSURANCE
INDUSTRY, A TOWN DOING FINE.
NOT THE CASE?

The caption changes to "Jacqueline Thompson. Lifespin."

Jacqueline says A FEW
REALLY HIGH SKEWS THE AVERAGE
INCOME.
IF YOU CONSIDER THAT FOLKS ON
ONTARIO WORKS ONLY GET ABOUT
8500 dollars AND ONE IN TWELVE IS ON
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE, THE PICTURE
IS A LOT MORE DIRE THAN THE
AVERAGES WOULD SUGGEST.
AND LONDON ALSO HAS A VERY HIGH
POPULATION OF SOLE SUPPORT MOMS,
WHICH MEANS THAT THEY'RE
STRUGGLING EVEN MORE BECAUSE OF
PRECARIOUS WORK AND PART-TIME
WORK, TRYING TO FACILITATE
EMPLOYMENT AROUND CHILD CARE AND
GETTING KIDS TO SCHOOL AND
ACTIVITIES AS WELL.

Steve says YOUR GROUP IS CALLED
LIFESPIN.

Jacqueline says IT IS.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU DO?

Jacqueline says LIFESPIN IS AN ACRONYM.
WE'RE A FRONT LINE ORGANIZATION
THAT IS OWNED AND OPERATED BY
THE PEOPLE THAT WE SERVE.
WE SERVE MORE THAN 5,000 LOW
INCOME FAMILIES IN LONDON
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
PROBABLY... WELL, ACTUALLY 50 percent
OF THE FOLKS WE SERVE ARE ON
ONTARIO WORKS.
ABOUT A QUARTER ARE ON
DISABILITY, EITHER PROVINCIAL
DISABILITY OR A CANADA PENSION
PLAN DISABILITY.
AND THE OTHER 25 percent ARE WORKING
POOR.

Steve says I GUESS WE SHOULD
JUST EXPLAIN FOR A SECOND.
ONTARIO WORKS IS THE NAME OF
BASICALLY WELFARE IN THE
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, RIGHT?

Jacqueline says YES.

Steve says AND THE DISABILITY
SUPPORT PROGRAM, O.D.S.P., AS A
LOT CALL IT, THAT'S A SECONDARY
PROGRAM.

Jacqueline says FOLKS
WHO ARE DISABLED AND UNABLE TO
WORK.
WE WERE FORMED IN 1989.
WE'VE BEEN AROUND FOR QUITE A
WHILE IN THE LONDON AREA.

Steve says CAN YOU GIVE US...
I'M SURE THERE IS NO SUCH THING
AS A TYPICAL STORY BECAUSE
EVERYBODY HAS GOT THEIR OWN
STORY.
BUT SHARE WITH US SOMETHING THAT
YOU THINK MIGHT HELP US
UNDERSTAND YOUR WORK BETTER.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Podcasts."

Jacqueline says WELL,
THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE IS NOT JUST
A LACK OF INCOME, IT'S A LACK OF
QUALITY OF LIFE.
SO WHAT WE'VE SEEN OVER TIME IS
THINGS HAVE GOTTEN MORE AND MORE
EXTREME FOR FAMILIES, LIKE
THERE'S NO DENTAL CARE, THERE'S
NO HEALTH CARE.
NO FOOD MEANS THAT THE DECLINE
IN THEIR HEALTH IS EXACERBATED.
SO WE'RE SEEING THE LONG-TERM
IMPACTS OF THAT NOW FROM
GENERATIONS OF WORKING IN LONDON
WITH POOR FAMILIES.
SO A LOT OF FOLKS, THEIR TEETH
ARE NOT WELL AND IT'S GETTING
WORSE.
SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A VERY
BAD HEALTH IN OUR SENIOR
POPULATION AS WE GO FORWARD.
SO WE NEED TO TURN THAT AROUND
AND START LOOKING AFTER THE
CHILDREN AT THE BEGINNING, NOW.

Steve says VANESSA, I
INTRODUCED YOU ORIGINALLY AS
BEING THE ABORIGINAL HEALTH LEAD
AT THE SOUTH WEST LHIN, THE
LOCAL HEALTH INTEGRATION
NETWORK, BUT THAT'S NOT WHY YOU
ARE WITH US TODAY.
YOU'RE NOT HERE TO SPEAK IN THAT
CAPACITY.
YOU'RE HERE BECAUSE THIS IS NOT
AN ACADEMIC EXERCISE FOR YOU.
YOU HAVE LIVED THIS, RIGHT?

Vanessa says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says TELL US ABOUT YOUR
LIFE.

Vanessa says I FIRST WANT TO STATE THAT MY
EXPERIENCE ALONE IS TRULY
INADEQUATE IN ADDRESSING THE
COMPLEXITY OF EXPERIENCE BY
PEOPLE LIVING... ALL PEOPLE
LIVING IN POVERTY.
I ONLY HOPE TO BE A VOICE TO
SPEAK TO A HUMAN EXPERIENCE THAT
HAS A VERY... HAS BY AND LARGE
BEEN IGNORED BY MOST PEOPLE, AND
REALLY DEHUMANIZED PEOPLE WHO
LIVE IN POVERTY.

Steve says HAVING SAID THAT,
WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCES HAVE
YOU HAD?

The caption changes to "Vanessa Ambtman-Smith. South West Local Health Integration Network."

Vanessa says SO
FOR ME WHEN I WAS LIVING IN
POVERTY, I FELT VERY UNSAFE, I
FELT VERY VULNERABLE.
THERE WERE PERIODS OF TIME IN MY
LIFE THAT THE REALITY OF LIVING
WAS SO PAINFUL THAT I NEEDED TO
SELF-MEDICATE TO ESCAPE.

Steve says HOW DID YOU DO THAT?

Vanessa says WELL, FOR ME, I TURNED TO
ALCOHOL AND I USED DRUGS AND IT
WAS PROBABLY THE ONLY WAY THAT I
WAS ABLE TO RECONCILE THE
REALITY THAT I WAS LIVING.
I WAS LIVING IN ROOMING HOUSES
IN REALLY TOUGH NEIGHBOURHOODS.
I WAS LIVING IN DANGEROUS
SITUATIONS THAT I COULDN'T
ESCAPE BECAUSE I HAD NO OTHER
PLACE TO GO.

Steve says WOULD YOU DESCRIBE
YOURSELF AS HAVING BEEN ADDICTED
TO DRUGS?

Vanessa says YES,
YEAH.

Steve says HOW DID YOU GET OFF
THAT?

Vanessa says WELL, FOR ME, I NEEDED HELP.
I HAD TO HAVE SUPPORTS TO
ADDRESS THE MENTAL ILLNESS, TO
ADDRESS THE ADDICTIONS.
AND THIS WAS A REALLY LARGE PART
OF THE REASON THAT I FOUND
MYSELF LIVING IN THE SITUATION
AND THE REALITY THAT I LIVED IN,
AND IT WASN'T UNTIL I WAS ABLE
TO FIND SUPPORT THROUGH RECOVERY
THAT I STARTED TO GET A LIFE
BACK.

Steve says OKAY.
WHO AND HOW... WHO SUPPORTED YOU
AND HOW?

Vanessa says I
FOUND SUPPORTS THROUGH INFORMAL
RECOVERY NETWORKS.
I FOUND SUPPORTS THROUGH...
OTHER PEOPLE WITH LIVED
EXPERIENCE.
AND FOR ME THAT WAS CRITICAL.
BECAUSE AT THAT POINT IN MY
LIFE, I DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF
TRUST IN THE FORMAL SYSTEM.
I DID NOT FEEL THAT THERE WAS A
PLACE FOR ME IN A LOT OF THE
SERVICES THAT WERE DESIGNED TO
SUPPORT PEOPLE WITH MENTAL
HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS.

Steve says IS THAT BECAUSE OF
OUR INDIGENOUS BACKGROUND?

Vanessa says IT
HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THE FACT
THAT I HAVE A HISTORY OF
NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES IN FORMAL
SETTINGS, AND THIS WAS CERTAINLY
A BARRIER IN WHY I CHOSE NOT TO
ACCESS THOSE SERVICES.

Steve says SO WHEN WOULD YOU
SAY YOUR LIFE WAS AT ITS WORST?

Vanessa says SO
THAT WAS JUST OVER 7 YEARS AGO.
I FOUND MYSELF IN A PLACE WHERE
I NO LONGER HAD A LOT OF HOPE.
I WASN'T SURE THAT THERE WAS
GOING TO BE ANY OPTIONS FOR ME,
AND I WASN'T SURE THAT I WAS
GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET MYSELF
OUT OF THE PLACE THAT I WAS AT.

The caption changes to "Mental health and addiction."

Steve says YOU ARE CLEARLY A
MILLION MILES AWAY FROM THAT
EXPERIENCE RIGHT NOW.

Vanessa says YES.

Steve says HOW DO YOU FEEL?

Vanessa says I FEEL WONDERFUL.
YOU KNOW, IT'S TAKEN ABOUT 7
YEARS TO JOURNEY TO THIS POINT.
I HAVE A FAMILY NOW.
I HAVE A HUSBAND.
I HAVE WONDERFUL CHILDREN.
AND LAST SUMMER, WE WERE ABLE TO
PURCHASE A HOME, AND FOR ME,
THIS WAS A HUGE MILESTONE IN
RECOGNIZING THAT I HAD COME TO A
PLACE WHERE I CAN PROVIDE A
DIFFERENT REALITY AND A
DIFFERENT LIFE FOR MY CHILDREN,
AND TO ME, THAT HAS MEANT
EVERYTHING.

Steve says CONGRATULATIONS.

Vanessa says THANK YOU.

Steve says THAT'S WONDERFUL.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve says THIS IS A VERY HAPPY
STORY.
THEY'RE OBVIOUSLY NOT ALL VERY
HAPPY STORIES.
KELLY, HOW WELL DOES THIS CITY
AND THIS AREA DO WHEN IT COMES
TO PROVIDING THE KIND OF SUPPORT
SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND SO ON?

The caption changes to "Kelly Ziegner, @kellyziegner."

Kelly says I THINK WE
HAVE A VERY ROBUST SOCIAL
SERVICE NETWORK IN LONDON BUT
IT'S VERY FRAGMENTED, AND AS
VANESSA INDICATED, SOMETIMES
PEOPLE DON'T FEEL WELCOME
ACCESSING SERVICES, THEY DON'T
KNOW HOW TO ACCESS SERVICES, AND
WHAT HAPPENS IS THAT ISOLATION
THAT VANESSA INDICATED.
SO PEOPLE WHO ARE LIVING IN
POVERTY, THEY'RE FACED WITH
MAKING IMPOSSIBLE CHOICES EVERY
DAY.
AND IT'S ABOUT SURVIVAL.
THERE'S NO WAY THAT THEY CAN
THRIVE AND CONTRIBUTE WHEN THEIR
VERY BASIC OF NEEDS ARE NOT MET.

Steve says TRACY, AGAIN,
BECAUSE YOU'VE STUDIED THIS, I
WANT TO PUT THIS TO YOU, THE
CONNECTION BETWEEN EXPERIENCING
MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES AND
BEING ON SOCIAL ASSISTANCE; IS
THERE A CONNECTION?

Tracy says I'D
SAY ABSOLUTELY.
WE'RE SEEING... WE KNOW THAT
PEOPLE ON THE LOWEST INCOME RUNG
SEND TO HAVE THREE TO TIMES MORE
LIKELY TO HAVE EXPERIENCES WITH
MENTAL ILLNESS THAN THE PEOPLE
AT THE TOP INCOME RUNG, AND SO
PROLONGED EXPOSURE TO POVERTY,
THE STIGMA, THE FOOD INSECURITY,
EXPOSURE TO THAT, WHEN WE KNOW
THAT 70 percent OF THE ONSET OF MENTAL
ILLNESS HAPPENS IN CHILDHOOD AND
ADOLESCENCE, SO WE REALLY DO
NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB OF
PROTECTING CHILDREN, PROTECTING
ADULTS.
OTHERWISE, I THINK MENTAL HEALTH
IS JUST GOING TO CONTINUE TO
ESCALATE.

Steve says SO YOU CAN MAKE THE
CONCLUSION THAT IF WE CAN REALLY
CHIP AWAY AT THE MENTAL HEALTH
PROBLEMS, WE CAN CHIP AWAY AT
THE SOCIAL ASSISTANCE PROBLEM AT
THE SAME TIME?

Tracy says I BELIEVE SO.

Steve says YOU CAN MAKE THAT
CONNECTION.
LET'S GO INTO THE AUDIENCE.
NANCY McQUILLAN IS OUT HERE.

Steve walks towards the audience, past a cameraman.

He says EXCUSE ME, GREG.
NANCY, STAND UP, IF YOU WOULD.
YOU'RE WITH THE LONDON
EMPLOYMENT HELP CENTRE.
TELL US ABOUT THE WORK THAT YOU DO.

Steve holds the microphone for a woman in her fifties with blond hair in a bob and bangs. She's wearing glasses.

The caption changes to "Nancy McQuillan. London Employment Health-Centre."
Then, it changes again to "Employment matters."

Nancy says WE KIND OF
TOUCH ON ALL OF THESE ISSUES
THAT THE PANEL HAS BEEN SPEAKING
ABOUT.
WE'VE BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR 33
YEARS.
WE OFFER EMPLOYMENT AND CAREER
COUNSELLING TO INDIVIDUALS, BUT
WE ALSO HAVE AN ADVOCACY
DEPARTMENT THAT WORKS WITH A LOT
OF PEOPLE THAT ARE IN CRISIS.
LOW INCOME INDIVIDUALS.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN DENIED
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE, WHO ARE...
HAVE BEEN CUT OFF OWODSP.

Steve says WHY WOULD THEY?

Nancy says VERY OFTEN
IT'S A MISUNDERSTANDING.
SOMETIMES IT'S A LANGUAGE ISSUE.
VERY OFTEN IT'S ISSUES RELATED
TO MENTAL HEALTH.

Steve says WE JUST HEARD ABOUT
THAT.

Nancy says AND WE
JUST HEARD A LOT OF THAT.
AND SO WE HAVE A COUPLE OF
PARALEGALS WHO WILL REPRESENT
THEM AND HELP THEM RESOLVE THEIR
BASIC INCOME ISSUES BECAUSE,
UNTIL THOSE ISSUES ARE RESOLVED,
NOBODY CAN EFFECTIVELY LOOK FOR
EMPLOYMENT.
SO THAT'S KIND OF BEEN THE
FOUNDATION OF OUR ORGANIZATION,
AND THAT WHOLE DEPARTMENT IS
FUNDED BY UNITED WAY AND WE ARE
EVER SO GRATEFUL TO THEM.

Steve says SO YOU KNOW KELLY.

Nancy says WE
CERTAINLY DO.

Steve says YOU KNOW KELLY AND
LIKE KELLY.

Nancy says WE DO INDEED.

Steve says JUST SO I'M CLEAR,
DO YOU HELP PEOPLE FIND JOBS OR
DO YOU HELP THEM GET THEIR LIFE
IN ORDER SO THEY CAN FIND JOBS?

Nancy says BOTH.

Steve says BOTH, OKAY.

Nancy says WE DO BOTH.
WE ASSIST THOUSANDS OF
INDIVIDUALS EVERY YEAR IN BOTH
DEPARTMENTS.
BUT REALLY WHAT WE'RE FINDING
NOW IS THAT, IN THE EMPLOYMENT
PART OF OUR ORGANIZATION, THERE
ARE SO MANY INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE
SUFFERING FROM MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUES BECAUSE OF THE SEVERE
POVERTY THAT THEY'RE IN, AND YOU
HAVE JUST HEARD FROM THE PANEL
THAT SO MANY PEOPLE IN LONDON
ARE DEALING WITH POVERTY ISSUES,
AND IT'S JUST BECOMING WORSE AND
WORSE.
SO WE ARE REALLY WORKING HARD.
AND I THINK EVERY ORGANIZATION
IN LONDON IS WORKING HARD TO TRY
AND RAISE THAT BAR FOR
INDIVIDUALS.

Steve says NOW, DON'T TAKE THIS
THE WRONG WAY, NANCY, BUT YOURS
IS ONE OF THE ORGANIZATIONS WE'D
LOVE TO PUT OUT OF BUSINESS, RIGHT?

Nancy says I HAVE
BEEN WORKING ON THAT FOR...

Steve says A LONG TIME.

Nancy says... ALMOST
30 YEARS.

Steve says FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS?

Nancy says YEAH.

Steve says THERE'S A LOT OF...
I MEAN, WE TALKED ABOUT THIS
LAST NIGHT ON THE PROGRAM, WE'RE
GOING TO HEAR MORE ABOUT IT
TODAY.
THERE ARE POCKETS OF LONDON
WHERE THERE'S A LOT OF
HOPELESSNESS RIGHT NOW.
AND YOU'RE I GUESS IN THE
BUSINESS OF GIVING PEOPLE HOPE
THAT THEY'VE GOT A FUTURE.

Nancy says YES.

Steve says HOW'S BUSINESS?

Nancy says WELL,
UNFORTUNATELY, BUSINESS IS
BOOMING, BUT I HAVE TO SAY THAT
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE DO DO
AND WE DO VERY WELL IS WE GIVE
PEOPLE HOPE AND WE ARE ABLE TO
GET PEOPLE EMPLOYED.
AND I'M GOING TO BE VERY HONEST
IN SAYING THAT NOT ALL THE JOBS
ARE GOOD JOBS, BUT IT IS A STEP
TOWARDS A BETTER JOB.
SO THEY MAY NOT GET THEIR "A."
JOB RIGHT AWAY, BUT THEY DO FIND
EMPLOYMENT AND EMPLOYMENT GIVES
ONE DIGNITY.

Steve says RIGHT.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE DO YOU
THINK YOU CAN PLACE IN SOME KIND
OF JOB?

Nancy says WELL, I
CAN TELL YOU RIGHT AWAY THAT 71 percent
OF THE PEOPLE THAT WE WORK WITH
DO FIND EMPLOYMENT, AND THAT'S A
FAIRLY GOOD STATISTIC RIGHT NOW.
AND I WOULD ALSO SAY THAT 98...
ALMOST 99 percent OF THE PEOPLE THAT WE
WORK WITH IN OUR ADVOCACY
DIVISION ARE SUCCESSFUL IN
GETTING THEIR ADVOCACY ISSUES
RESOLVED.
SO VERY HIGH NUMBER OF PEOPLE
ARE SUCCESSFULLY ASSISTED.

Steve says THANKS FOR FILLING
US IN, NANCY.
APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH.

Nancy says THANK YOU
VERY MUCH.

Steve says NANCY McQUILLAN
FROM THE LONDON EMPLOYMENT CENTRE.

[APPLAUSE]

Steve walks back to the panel of guests and says
I WOULD LIKE TO GET A BETTER
SENSE ABOUT HOW... YOU KNOW, WE
HEARD LAST NIGHT AND I'M SURE
WE'LL HEAR AGAIN TODAY, THE FACT
THAT THOSE GREAT JOBS THAT USED
TO EXIST THAT PAID 35 BUCKS AN
HOUR AT A WONDERFUL ROBUST
MANUFACTURING PLANT AND THERE
WAS A PENSION AND THERE WERE
BENEFITS AND ALL OF THAT, I
MEAN, THOSE JOBS ARE REALLY
DISAPPEARING EVERYWHERE IN THE
WORLD, BUT HERE IN LONDON AS
WELL.
AND NOW WE HAVE THIS NEW THING
CALLED PRECARIOUS WORK.
SO, TRACY, LET'S START WITH YOU
AGAIN ON THIS.
WHAT'S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
PRECARIOUS WORK AND POVERTY?

Tracy says THERE'S A VERY GOOD
RELATIONSHIP.
WE KNOW THAT 70 percent OF THE PEOPLE
THAT ARE LIVING IN LOW INCOME
ARE ACTUALLY WORKING.

Steve says SAY THAT AGAIN.
70 percent OF PEOPLE...

Tracy says YES.
ARE WORKING.

Steve says ARE WORKING AND
STILL IN POVERTY?

Tracy says MULTIPLE JOBS, TRYING TO FEED
THEIR FAMILIES.
SO, YEAH.
THIS HAS BECOME MORE OF A NEW
NORMAL.
THIS IS THE JOB CHURNING, MOVING
FROM JOB TO JOB TO JOB AND IN
BETWEEN, YOU KNOW, CYCLING
THROUGH SOCIAL ASSISTANCE AND
ONTO A NEW JOB AND THAT SEASONAL
JOB ENDS AND MOVING ONTO ANOTHER
JOB.
THAT'S BECOMING MORE OF THE
NORMAL.

Steve says ARE YOU SEEING THIS
TOO, KELLY?

Kelly says IT CREATES
LOTS OF PROBLEMS FOR FAMILIES AS
WELL AS THEY'RE DEALING WITH
PRECARIOUS WORK.
SO YOU CONSIDER A PARENT WHO'S
WORKING TWO OR THREE JOBS JUST
TO BE ABLE TO SURVIVE AND
PROVIDE FOR THEIR CHILDREN.
THEY'RE NOT HOME TO BE WITH
THEIR CHILDREN.
SO AFTER SCHOOL, WHERE ARE THOSE
KIDS?
WHAT ARE THEY DOING?
AND THAT'S WHERE, YOU KNOW, THE
UNITED WAY-FUNDED PROGRAMS LIKE
AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS BECOME A
CRITICAL PART IN ENSURING THAT
THERE'S SAFE AND APPROPRIATE
CHILD CARE OR RECREATIONAL
OPPORTUNITIES FOR KIDS.

Steve says JACQUELINE, IF
SOMEBODY'S WORKING TWO OR THREE
JOBS, GIVE US A SENSE ABOUT WHAT
THAT LOOKS LIKE.

Jacqueline says WELL,
IT'S REALLY DIFFICULT BECAUSE IN
ORDER TO ACCESS THE COMMUNITY
SERVICES THAT MIGHT ASSIST YOU,
YOU HAVE TO OFTEN STAND IN LINES
AND TRY TO GET THROUGH TO
COMMUNITY SERVICE AGENCIES THAT
YOU JUST CANNOT ACCESS.
PLUS YOU'RE TRYING TO WORK TWO
OR THREE JOBS AND TRAVEL FROM
CHILD CARE PROVIDER TO CHILD
CARE PROVIDER, FIND LATE NIGHT,
OVERNIGHT CHILD CARE IF YOU ARE
WORKING IN THE EVENINGS.
SO YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS JUST GOING
FROM ONE THING TO ANOTHER.
THERE'S NO FAMILY TIME, THERE'S
NO DOWN TIME, THERE'S NO SITTING
AROUND THE FAMILY DINNER TABLE.
ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD
THINK OF DOING IN YOUR HOME
DON'T HAPPEN FOR LOW INCOME
FAMILIES.

Steve says THAT MAKE UP A LIFE.

Jacqueline says YOU
MIGHT NOT EVEN HAVE HEAT IN YOUR
HOME OR A YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE A
STOVE TO COOK ON.
YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS JUST TRYING
TO DEAL WITH THE BASIC NEEDS TO
GET TO THE NEXT SPOT.

Steve says VANESSA, WAS THIS A
PART OF YOUR BACKGROUND AT ALL?

The caption changes to "Vanessa Ambtman-Smith, @SouthWestLHIN."

Vanessa says ABSOLUTELY.
THERE WAS A PERIOD OF TIME WHERE
THE TYPE OF HOUSING I LIVED IN
WAS INADEQUATE, AND I WENT
WITHOUT HYDRO FOR A WHOLE WINTER
AND I DIDN'T HAVE A PLACE TO
KEEP MY FOOD.
I DIDN'T HAVE A PLACE TO COOK MY
FOOD.
I DIDN'T HAVE HOT WATER TO
SHOWER IN.
YOU KNOW, LIKE I SAID, LIFE WAS
PAINFUL AND DIFFICULT AND
STRESSFUL AT THAT TIME, AND MY
THOUGHTS WEREN'T ABOUT LOOKING
AT HOW, YOU KNOW, AS AN
INDIGENOUS PERSON WHO IS
PASSIONATE ABOUT SUPPORTING MY
COMMUNITY, I COULD GET UP AND DO
THAT JOB.
MY JOB WAS JUST ABOUT SURVIVING.

Steve says KELLY, I WANT TO ASK
YOU ABOUT SOMETHING THAT ONTARIO
IS IN THE THROES OF SORT OF
FIGURING OUT AT THE MOMENT, AND
THAT IS A PILOT PROGRAM OF A
SORT OF GUARANTEED ANNUAL INCOME
OR A BASIC FLOOR, YOU KNOW, A
BASIC AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT
PEOPLE WOULD BE TRANSFERRED IN
ORDER TO LIVE ON.
THIS HAS BEEN DEBATED FOR YEARS
AND YEARS... I MEAN, DECADES.
WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON HOW WELL
THAT MIGHT WORK TO ALLEVIATE
SOME OF THE ISSUES WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT TONIGHT?

The caption changes to "Universal Basic Income."

Kelly says WELL, WHEN
YOU TALK ABOUT POVERTY, AT THE
VERY ROOT OF IT, IT'S PEOPLE
DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TO SURVIVE,
LET ALONE TO BE ABLE TO
CONTRIBUTE OR TO HAVE A
MEANINGFUL SORT OF EXISTENCE IN
OUR COMMUNITY.
AND IF THAT'S ONE... IF YOU CAN
REMOVE THAT BARRIER THROUGH
SOMETHING LIKE BASIC INCOME OR
LIVING WAGE, THOSE ARE
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO, YOU
KNOW, ACTUALLY BE MORE
RESILIENT, TO BE ABLE TO
PARTICIPATE IN THEIR COMMUNITY
AND HAVE A QUALITY OF LIFE THAT
THEY WOULDN'T OTHERWISE HAVE.
AND TRACY HAS DONE A LOT OF WORK
IN THIS AREA IN TERMS OF
RESEARCH.

Steve says TRACY, YOU KNOW THAT
THE KNOCK ON THIS PROGRAM, AS
I'VE UNDERSTOOD IT OVER THE
YEARS, IS THAT IF YOU JUST HAND
SOMEBODY, LET'S SAY, 10 GRAND A
YEAR, HERE'S YOUR BASIC INCOME,
YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING
FOR IT, THE ARGUMENT IS IT SAPS
THEM OF ANY INCENTIVE TO GET OUT
THERE AND FIND A BETTER JOB.
WHAT DO THE FACTS SAY?

Tracy says YEAH.
THAT'S NOT THE CASE, THOUGH.
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF WORK IN
THIS AREA, MAINLY FROM DIFFERENT
KINDS OF BASIC INCOME.
AROUND THE WORLD, CONDITIONAL
CASH TRANSFERS OR UNCONDITIONAL
CASH TRANSFERS HAVE BEEN GOING
ON FOR YEARS NOW, AND THE
EVIDENCE IS QUITE CLEAR THAT
THEY ARE VERY, VERY HELPFUL IN
HELPING PEOPLE WORK, MEET THEIR
BASIC NEEDS, GET THE EDUCATION
AND TRAINING THAT THEY NEED.
SO IT ACTUALLY GOES AGAINST THAT
WHOLE NOTION OF THIS WORK
DISINCENTIVE THAT A LOT OF
PEOPLE SEEM TO BE AFRAID ABOUT.

Steve says THE FIRST PILOT
PROGRAM WAS I THINK 40 YEARS AGO
IN MANITOBA.
THEY CALLED IT MINCOME.

Tracy says THEY
FOUND A SLIGHT DECREASE BUT THAT
WAS BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THE
PEOPLE WENT BACK TO SCHOOL.
IF THAT'S A PROBLEM, I'D SAY
THAT'S A PROBLEM TO HAVE.
THAT'S WHAT WE WANT, RIGHT?
SO, YEAH, THERE WAS A SLIGHT
DECREASE, BUT EVELYN FORGER WAS
ABLE TO CAPTURE THE DYNAMICS OF
THAT AND HOW PEOPLE WERE GOING
BACK TO SCHOOL TO GET EDUCATED
TO GET JOBS LATER.

Steve says MY POINT IS IF EVERY
TIME SOMEONE HAS DONE RESEARCH
TO SHOW THAT THIS IS A POTENTIAL
SOLUTION TO THE ISSUES WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT HERE, WHY HAS
THERE BEEN SO LITTLE POLITICAL
LEADERSHIP OVER THE YEARS TO
IMPLEMENT THIS?

Tracy says I
WOULD SAY WE ACTUALLY HAVE
IMPLEMENTED IT, THAT WE ACTUALLY
HAVE BASIC INCOME ARCHITECTURE
ALREADY WITHIN OUR EXISTING
CONSTELLATION OF INCOME SECURITY
PROGRAMS.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, SENIORS.
IN THE 1960s AND '70s, WE
INTRODUCED A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT
INCOME SECURITY PROGRAMS FOR
SENIORS, AND IN THE '70s, WE
SAW OUR INCOME... OUR POVERTY
LEVEL FOR SENIORS GO FROM ALMOST
40 percent DOWN TO 1995, 4 percent.
WE ALMOST ELIMINATED POVERTY FOR
THE SENIOR POPULATION BY
INTRODUCING A BASIC INCOME.
SO WE KNOW IT WORKS.
I ALMOST SORT OF AM A BIT
SKEPTICAL OF A NEED TO START
ANOTHER PILOT BECAUSE I KNOW
IT'S BEEN WORKING AROUND THE
WORLD AND IT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO
WORK IN CANADA.

Steve says WE HAVE THE SENIORS
PLAN, WE HAVE BASIC CHILD GRANT
AS WELL.

Tracy says WE'VE
DONE COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS AS
WELL.
WE SHOULD BE EQUITABLE AND MAKE
SURE AN INCOME FLOOR IS PROVIDED
FOR ALL MEMBERS OF SOCIETY.

Steve says JACQUELINE, ARE YOU
SOLD ON THIS IDEA?

Jacqueline says SURE.
[LAUGHTER]
THE BIGGEST ISSUE WE HAVE WITH
POVERTY IN LONDON IS THE
HOUSING.
SO THERE'S A DIFFERENTIAL FOR
THE INCOME COMING IN FOR
HOUSING.
SO THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
LONDON DOESN'T DO VERY WELL.
WE HAVE LOTS OF ADMINISTRATION
SYSTEMS FOR PROVIDING HOUSING,
BUT NOT A WHOLE LOT OF HOUSING.
SO WE NEED TO DEAL WITH THAT.
THE AVERAGE COST OF HOUSING IS
MUCH HIGHER THAN PEOPLE HAVE FOR
SHELTER AMOUNTS.
SO YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE EITHER
HOUSING SUBSIDIES ALONG WITH THE
INCOME SUBSIDIES OR YOU'RE STILL
NOT DEALING WITH THE ISSUE
BECAUSE OF THE COST OF HOUSING
AND HEATING HOUSING IN CANADA.

Steve says VANESSA, WHAT'S YOUR
VIEW ON A GUARANTEED ANNUAL
INCOME OR A BASIC INCOME?

Vanessa says I
THINK FOR ME AS A PERSON WITH
LIVED EXPERIENCE, THIS IS A STEP
IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
TO ME, THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE
IT INVOLVES A SYSTEMIC APPROACH
IN ADDRESSING POVERTY.
YOU KNOW, IT REALLY RECOGNIZES
THAT POVERTY IS NOT AN
INDIVIDUAL ISSUE, THAT THIS IS
REALLY AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE
ADDRESSED COLLECTIVELY BY THE
COMMUNITIES, BY THE
MUNICIPALITY, AND REALLY TAKEN
ON BY INDUSTRY AND BY
ORGANIZATIONS AND SECTORS.

Steve says WHEN YOU'RE POOR AND
HOPELESS, DO YOU FEEL ALL ALONE?

Vanessa says YES.
I THINK IN MY SITUATION, I WAS
PHYSICALLY ALONE, BUT I ALSO HAD
EXPERIENCED WHAT I BELIEVE WAS,
YOU KNOW, THIS LEARNED
HELPLESSNESS WHERE I DIDN'T
THINK THAT I HAD ANY OPTIONS, I
DIDN'T... I FELT ISOLATED, AND I
REALLY DIDN'T FEEL WORTHY AS A
PERSON TO HAVE THE SAME
OPPORTUNITIES THAT WERE AFFORDED
TO OTHERS.

Steve says KELLY, OBVIOUSLY
THERE ARE PEOPLE ALL OVER
ONTARIO, ALL OVER THE COUNTRY
WHO ARE WATCHING THIS AND MAY
WANT TO SORT OF LEARN ABOUT YOUR
EXPERIENCE AND HOW THEY CAN
APPLY IT TO THEIR COMMUNITIES.
WHAT'S SOME ADVICE YOU MIGHT
GIVE THEM?

Kelly says I THINK IT'S
JUST PAYING ATTENTION TO THE
ISSUE, RIGHT, AND ENSURING THAT
YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR
COMMUNITY, YOU KNOW WHAT THE
CHALLENGES ARE, AND THEN TAKING
A STAND AND ADVOCATING FOR, YOU
KNOW, PROGRAMS, WHETHER IT BE
BASIC INCOME OR ISSUES RELATED
TO RACE OR CHALLENGES THAT
YOU'RE HAVING AND PROVIDING A
VOICE AND A FORUM FOR THOSE
ISSUES TO BE UNDERSTOOD BECAUSE
I THINK THAT ADVOCACY PART IS A
BIG PART IN SORT OF SOLVING
THOSE LARGER SYSTEMIC ISSUES.
YES, CONTRIBUTING TO
ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE
ADDRESSING THOSE ISSUES IS ONE
PART OF IT, BUT ALSO HAVING YOUR
VOICE HEARD.

Steve says JACQUELINE, DO YOU
THINK THE CORNER CAN BE TURNED
ON THIS?

Jacqueline says WE
KEEP TRYING.
IT'S GOING TO BE A LONG HAUL.
IF WE DON'T DEAL WITH IT, THEN
PEOPLE AREN'T GOING TO HAVE THE
INCOMES TO BUY THE PRODUCTS THAT
CREATE THE JOBS.
SO YOU CAN EITHER TAKE IT WAY
BACK AND DEAL WITH IT
SYSTEMICALLY OR YOU'RE GOING TO
BE DEALING WITH IT ONE PERSON AT
A TIME AND THAT PROBLEM IS NOT
GOING AWAY.

Steve says GOTCHA.
I WANT TO THANK YOU ALL FOR
GETTING OUR PROGRAM STARTED SO
WONDERFULLY HERE THIS EVENING.
OUR GUESTS:
TRACY SMITH-CARRIER, ASSISTANT
PROFESSOR IN THE SCHOOL OF
SOCIAL WORK, WESTERN UNIVERSITY...
JACQUELINE THOMPSON, EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR OF LIFESPIN...
VANESSA AMBTMAN-SMITH,
ABORIGINAL HEALTH LEAD FOR THE
SOUTH WEST LOCAL HEALTH
INTEGRATION NETWORK...
AND KELLY ZIEGNER, CEO OF UNITED
WAY, LONDON AND MIDDLESEX...
HOW ABOUT A ROUND OF APPLAUSE
FOR THIS GROUP OF PEOPLE HERE
TONIGHT.
THANK YOU.

[APPLAUSE]

Watch: Facing Poverty in London