Transcript: Left Behind in Growing Hamilton | Feb 11, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and striped lilac tie.

A caption on screen reads "Left behind in a growing Hamilton. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says LONG IDENTIFIED WITH ITS CHURNING STEEL MILLS AND BUSTLING MANUFACTURING SECTOR, THE CITY OF HAMILTON HAS SEEN A LOT OF CHANGE IN THE PAST FEW DECADES. AND FOR THE MORE THAN HALF A MILLION RESIDENTS, IT'S A MIX OF GOOD AND BAD, WITH THE GAP BETWEEN THOSE TWO GROWING IN WAYS THAT MAKE IT TOUGH FOR MANY. HERE TO EXPLAIN HOW IT'S AFFECTING PEOPLE'S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, WE WELCOME: SARA MAYO, SOCIAL PLANNER WITH THE SOCIAL PLANNING AND RESEARCH COUNCIL OF HAMILTON...

Sara is in her forties, with straight brown hair pulled back. She's wearing a black jacket.

Steve continues LAURA CATTARI, CAMPAIGN CO-ORDINATOR FOR THE HAMILTON ROUNDTABLE FOR POVERTY REDUCTION...

Laura is in her forties, with long wavy dark hair. She's wearing a black sweater.

Steve continues AND STEVE BUIST, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AT THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR.

Steve Buist is in his fifties, with short gray hair and a trimmed goatee. He's wearing glasses, a black suit and a pale blue shirt.

Steve continues WE ARE HAPPY TO WELCOME YOU BACK HERE... YOU'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE.

Laura says INDEED.

Steve says AND BOTH OF YOU HERE FOR THE FIRST TIME. I WANT TO... STEVE, WE'RE GOING TO PICK UP ON YOUR REALLY QUITE EXCELLENT SERIES FOR THE SPEC AND SHARE SOME OF THESE FACTS WITH OUR VIEWERS AND WE'LL DO Q and A AFTER THAT. SHELDON, LET'S BRING THIS GRAPHIC UP. HERE IS THE CODE RED PROJECT LOOKING AT THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN HAMILTON AND ONE OF THE THINGS HE FOUND WAS THAT...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Examining quality of life in Hamilton. One decade later."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
OF 13 INDICATORS, 10 DECREASED... MEANING THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN THOSE 10 AREAS GOT WORSE. ONLY TWO INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY: EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS WENT UP 30 percent OVER THE DECADE, WHILE THE POPULATION OF HAMILTON ONLY INCREASED BY 6 percent. AND EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS FOR PSYCHIATRIC REASONS WENT UP BY 60 percent. OKAY. STEVE, THESE ARE A FEW OF THE CATEGORIES THAT WE LOOKED AT. YOU LOOKED AT MANY OTHER INDICATORS, SUCH AS WHAT?

The caption changes to "Steve Buist. Hamilton Spectator."
Then, it changes again to "A decade of decline."

Steve Buist says I THINK THE ONE THAT PROBABLY SHOCKED PEOPLE THE MOST WAS THE GAP IN LIFE SPAN BETWEEN THE BEST AND THE WORST NEIGHBOURHOODS IN HAMILTON. SO WE FOUND 10 YEARS ON, FROM THE ORIGINAL PROJECT, A 23-YEAR DIFFERENCE IN LIFE SPAN BETWEEN THE BEST AND THE WORST NEIGHBOURHOODS. WE HAVE A NEIGHBORHOOD IN HAMILTON WHERE THE AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN 2016, 2017 WAS 64.8 YEARS. THAT DOESN'T EVEN GET YOU TO YOUR PENSION. YOU KNOW, TO HAVE THAT KIND OF OUTCOME, WORSE THAN ERITREA AND SUDAN, THESE ARE THIRD WORLD OUTCOMES IN A CITY AND COUNTRY AS RICH AS CANADA, AND THAT'S JUST FRANKLY BOTH HORRIFYING AND SHOCKING.

Steve says DO YOU WANT TO SAY WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD IT WAS?

Steve Buist says IT'S A NEIGHBORHOOD RIGHT NEAR THE DOWNTOWN, SO IT'S IN A REALLY CHALLENGED PART OF THE CITY. BUT I THINK WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT IS THESE HUGE DISPARITIES THAT WE'RE SEEING ACROSS THE CITY AND THESE DISPARITIES, TIME AND TIME AND TIME AGAIN ARE THE SAME: THE WEALTHY PARTS OF THE CITY HAVE GOOD OUTCOMES, AND THE POOR PARTS OF THE CITY HAVE REALLY, REALLY BAD OUTCOMES, AND THAT'S WHAT'S DISCOURAGING.

Steve says LET'S ASK THE OBVIOUS FOLLOW-UP QUESTION, WHICH IS: WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO ALL OF THAT?

Steve Buist says I THINK THAT... I THINK THERE'S TWO THINGS: ONE, HAMILTON STILL HAS HIGH RATES OF POVERTY, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, HAS REALLY CONCENTRATED AREAS OF POVERTY, AND JUST WE'RE SEEING INCOME INEQUALITY IS ACTUALLY GROWING ACROSS THE CITY. SO JUST... JUST THE FACT THAT WE HAVE THESE HUGE DISPARITIES IN WEALTH IS WHAT REALLY LEADS TO POOR HEALTH.

Steve says LAURA, CAN YOU HELP US UNDERSTAND THAT? I'VE LOOKED AT THE NUMBERS HERE AND THERE ARE SOME NEIGHBOURHOODS WHERE THE POVERTY RATE, THE PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE IN POVERTY, IS 4 and a half percent. AND THERE ARE OTHER NEIGHBOURHOODS WHERE IT'S LITERALLY ALMOST HALF THE PEOPLE. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?

The caption changes to "Laura Cattari. Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction."

Laura says THERE ARE A FEW FACTORS. ONE, THEIR NEIGHBOURHOODS, BECAUSE THEY'RE ECONOMICALLY DEPRESSED ATTRACT MORE PEOPLE BECAUSE OF RENTAL RATES AND WHAT PEOPLE CAN AFFORD. SO PEOPLE TEND TO CONGREGATE IN AREAS WHERE THEY'LL BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO LIVE IN. BUT I THINK THE INCREASE IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO INCOME PRECARITY. PEOPLE ARE FINDING IT MORE AND MORE DIFFICULT TO LIVE. WE'VE SEEN RENTAL RATES RISE AND PEOPLE'S INCOMES ARE NOT FOLLOWING SUIT. SO PEOPLE ARE MOVING, OR TRYING TO MOVE... NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFULLY... AND TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE SOMETHING WORK THAT'S REALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

Steve says SARA, FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, CAN YOU SHARE SOME INSIGHT INTO WHY THE POVERTY SEEMS TO BE SO CONCENTRATED?

The caption changes to "Sara Mayo. Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton."

Sara says WELL, YOU KNOW, HAMILTON, WE'RE EXPERIENCING WHAT MANY CITIES ACROSS CANADA ARE EXPERIENCING. IT'S NOT HAMILTON-SPECIFIC. TORONTO HAS HIGHER POVERTY RATES THAN HAMILTON, HIGHER RATES OF INEQUALITY THAN HAMILTON. WHAT'S DIFFERENT MAYBE IN HAMILTON IS THAT... YOU KNOW, CITIES LIKE TORONTO HAVE SORT OF EXPORTED A LOT OF THEIR POVERTY OUTSIDE OF THE DOWNTOWN INTO THE OLDER SUBURBAN AREAS AND IT'S LESS VISIBLE ON AN EVERYDAY BASIS TO PEOPLE WHO PAY ATTENTION AND SHOULD BE PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO THESE THINGS. AND SO IN HAMILTON THERE'S... WHEN WE DO A MAP OF POVERTY IN HAMILTON, YES, IT'S MORE CONCENTRATED IN THE LOWER CITY. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN, YOU KNOW, THE SUBURBS HAVE FOUND A WAY TO SOLVE POVERTY THAT THE LOWER CITY HASN'T. WHAT WE'RE MAPPING IS WHERE ARE AFFORDABLE RENTS, WHERE IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN HAMILTON, AND MOST OF THE SOCIAL HOUSING HAS BEEN BUILT IN THE LOWER CITY, AND SO IT'S A GOOD THING, IN A WAY, IN THAT THERE IS HIGHER RATES OF SOCIAL HOUSING IN HAMILTON THAN IN OTHER CITIES. SO THAT PROTECTS PEOPLE FROM THESE HIGH RATES OF RENTAL. BUT IT'S NOT... WE NEED THOSE KIND OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING OPTIONS IN ALL PARTS OF THE CITY IN ALL CITIES ACROSS CANADA.

Steve says I'M GOING TO PICK UP ON THAT MORE IN A SECOND. BUT I WANT TO PICK UP, FIRST WITH YOU, STEVE, ON THAT, THE WORD VISIBLE, THAT SARA USED. HOW VISIBLE IS POVERTY IN HAMILTON?

The caption changes to "Steve Buist. Code Red Project."

Steve Buist says YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN HAMILTON... AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HAMILTON, IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE OLD CITY OF HAMILTON, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE MIKE HARRIS HAMILTON, SO THE OLD FORMER CITY OF HAMILTON AND THE FIVE SUBURBAN AREAS THAT HAVE BEEN SORT OF GLOMMED ONTO HAMILTON THANKS TO AMALGAMATION.

Steve says SUPER CITY, AS IT WAS CALLED. HALF A MILLION PEOPLE.

Steve Buist says SO WHAT WE SEE IS THIS RICH SUBURBAN RING AROUND THE OUTSIDE. AS I SAY TO PEOPLE, HAMILTON IS A LOT LIKE A DOUGHNUT. IT'S GOT THIS HEALTHY RING AROUND THE OUTSIDE AND THEN UNFORTUNATELY IT HAS THIS KIND OF ROTTEN HOLE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE. AND SO, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN HAMILTON, IT REALLY DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU LIVE IN HAMILTON, WHICH PART ARE WE TALKING ABOUT? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE RICH SUBURBS? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE LOWER INNER CITY WHERE A LOT OF THESE CHALLENGES ARE SITUATED? ANECDOTALLY, I'VE NEVER SEEN IT THE WAY IT IS THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS IN TERMS OF, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE BEING ON THE STREET... I MEAN, IT'S JUST... WE HAVE SOME PEOPLE LIVING IN TENTS ACROSS FROM THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR BUILDING IN SOME BUSHES. WHEN THE LEAVES DROP IN THE FALL, WE SEE THESE ENCAMPMENTS. I MEAN, I'VE NEVER SEEN THAT BEFORE. IT'S... IT'S REALLY DISTURBING RIGHT NOW.

Steve says LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE HOLE IN THE DOUGHNUT, NOT THE BETTER-OFF SUBURBS, THE HOLE IN THE DOUGHNUT, DOWNTOWN AND THE INNER CITY. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING SO MUCH POVERTY SO CONCENTRATED IN ONE AREA?

The caption changes to "Laura Cattari, @LauraCattari."

Laura says SO WE KNOW MIXED COMMUNITIES ARE BEST. THEY'RE BEST NOT ONLY FOR THE PEOPLE LIVING IN POVERTY BUT THEY ACTUALLY CREATE MORE VIBRANT COMMUNITIES WHEN YOU CAN MIX INCOMES, MIX BACKGROUNDS. THEY BECOME ATTRACTIVE. THE PROBLEM WHEN YOU HAVE CONCENTRATED POVERTY... AND, I MEAN, IT WOULD BE TOO SIMPLISTIC TO JUST SAY, YOU KNOW, POLICING RATES OR THINGS LIKE THAT. IT GETS REALLY DIFFICULT. I THINK THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS GETTING ANYONE IN THOSE NEIGHBOURHOODS TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. WHEN YOU LOOK IN MORE AFFLUENT AREAS, YOU HAVE BRAND NEW RECREATION CENTRES, YOU HAVE A LOT OF FACILITIES, A LOT OF INVESTMENT IN THOSE AREAS. WHEN YOU HAVE CONCENTRATED POVERTY, YOU DON'T HAVE THAT AS MUCH. SO WHAT ENDS UP HAPPENING IS NOT ONLY DO THEY LIVE IN POVERTY, BUT ALL THE RESOURCES THAT WE TEND TO THINK OF AS BEING AVAILABLE TO US ARE NOT THERE. AND IF YOU'RE RAISING CHILDREN OR YOU'RE A YOUNG ADULT AND YOU'RE LIVING IN THESE AREAS, IT'S VERY HARD TO DREAM AND LOOK FORWARD IF THERE'S NOTHING AROUND YOU THAT IS ASPIRATIONAL, AND IT BECOMES DIFFICULT.

Steve says YOU WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT, THE DIFFICULTY OF ALL THAT CONCENTRATION OF POVERTY?

The caption changes to "Sara Mayo, @sara_mayo."

Sara says YEAH. I THINK WE HAVE TO... IN THESE DISCUSSIONS, WE REALLY HAVE TO MAKE SURE TO AVOID STIGMATIZATION. WE DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO SAY I DON'T WANT TO LIVE THERE BECAUSE THERE ARE HIGH CONCENTRATIONS OF POVERTY. IN SOME WAYS THERE ARE MORE SERVICES THAT CAN HELP PEOPLE IN AN EASIER WAY WHEN THERE'S CONCENTRATION OF POVERTY IN SOME NEIGHBOURHOODS. THEN IF PEOPLE, IF THEY LIVE, FOR INSTANCE, IN TORONTO, WHERE THERE'S A LOT OF POVERTY IN THE OUTLYING AREAS WHERE THERE'S NO TRANSIT AND IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO GET TO, YOU KNOW, EMPLOYMENT TRAINING SERVICES OR OTHER THINGS THAT PEOPLE MAY NEED. SO IT'S NOT ALWAYS... IT'S NOT ALWAYS... WE CAN'T LOOK AT IT IN A SIMPLE WAY. BUT I THINK THAT WE NEED TO, YOU KNOW, THINK ABOUT THE WAYS THAT WE CAN CREATE MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES SO THAT EVERYONE HAS A CHOICE OF WHERE TO LIVE AND THEY'RE NOT RELEGATED TO JUST ONE AREA BECAUSE OF THEIR INCOME.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says CAN I DO ONE EXAMPLE FOR YOU, AND FULL DISCLOSURE HERE, I'M A HAMILTONIAN ORIGINALLY, MY FOLKS STILL LIVE THERE, LOTS OF FAMILY THERE. I KNOW OF AN EXAMPLE IN THE NORTH END, SO-CALLED KEITH NEIGHBORHOOD, WHICH HAS BEEN ONE OF THE PRIORITY NEIGHBOURHOODS... I'M SURE THE SPECTATOR HAS COVERED OFTEN. AND IT WAS A SITUATION WHERE THERE WERE NO BUS STOPS THERE AND THERE WERE NO GROCERY STORES THERE. THERE WERE NO SERVICES THERE. THERE WAS NOTHING THERE. MANY IN THE COMMUNITY HAVE COME TOGETHER. THERE'S A PLACE THERE CALLED THE EVA ROTHWELL RESOURCE CENTRE, EFFORTS PUT IN TO HAVE A DENTIST COME BY ONCE A WEEK, YOU CAN PICK UP CLOTHES IF YOU NEED THEM, HEALTH CARE IS AVAILABLE, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. DOES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Sara says FOR SURE. I MEAN, THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT CAN BE DONE... YOU KNOW, THESE PROBLEMS ARE STRUCTURAL, AS WE SAY. YOU KNOW, THEY'RE ABOUT INCOME INEQUALITY, ISSUES THAT A CITY CAN'T SOLVE. BUT A CITY CAN DO SOME OF THESE SORT OF DAILY LIVING... MAKE DAILY LIVING EASIER, AND SO, YEAH, IF YOU OFFER SERVICES, BRING SERVICES TO WHERE PEOPLE LIVE, THAT'S ABSOLUTELY... AND THE EVA ROTHWELL CENTRE IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF DOING THAT, OF SAYING, OKAY, WE CAN'T SOLVE EVERYTHING, BUT WHAT CAN WE DO HERE AND NOW FOR PEOPLE IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HAVEN'T HAD ATTENTION? LET'S PAY MORE ATTENTION AND GIVE THEM MORE SERVICES.

Steve says DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE?

Steve Buist says IT'S INTERESTING THAT YOU PICKED THE KEITH NEIGHBORHOOD BECAUSE IN THE ORIGINAL CODE RED PROJECT, WHICH... JUST SO THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. CODE RED WAS ABOUT LOOKING AT HEALTH DATA FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN HAMILTON AND THEN GROUPING IT TOGETHER INTO SMALL NEIGHBOURHOODS, 140 OF THESE NEIGHBOURHOODS IN HAMILTON. AND THEN LOOKING AT THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC FACTORS AND MAPPING THEM OUT, AND BASICALLY YOU SAW THESE HUGE CORRELATIONS BETWEEN POVERTY, LOW INCOME, LOW EDUCATION, AND POOR HEALTH OUTCOMES, AND THE KEITH NEIGHBORHOOD, IN THE ORIGINAL CODE RED PROJECT FROM 10 YEARS AGO, WAS THE WORST PERFORMING NEIGHBORHOOD.

Steve says IT'S IN THE NORTH END...

Steve Buist says RIGHT NEAR THE STEEL MILLS. NOT PRETTY. AND SO IN THIS PARTICULAR 10-YEAR SEQUEL, THE KEITH NEIGHBORHOOD ACTUALLY HAD SOME VERY SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS IN A NUMBER OF HEALTH AREAS, AND SO I WENT AND TALKED TO THE HEAD OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION, AND, YOU KNOW, HE SAID, 10 YEARS AGO, I CURSED YOUR NAME. I REMEMBER CALLING YOU UP AND SAYING, OKAY, GREAT. YOU RIPPED THE BAND-AID OFF. NOW WHAT? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HELP US FIX THIS? AND 10 YEARS ON, THEY MADE SOME SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS IN SOME KEY AREAS OF HEALTH. I WENT BACK AND ASKED HIM, I SAID, SO WHAT CAUSED THIS? HE SAID, WE WERE ANGRY. WE WERE ANGRY AND WE FELT STIGMATIZED AND WE DECIDED WE WANTED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. AND SO... YOU KNOW, IT'S A GREAT EXAMPLE OF, IF YOU CAN MOBILIZE PEOPLE'S INTERESTS AND THEIR CONCERNS AND YOU CAN FIND SOME WAY TO, YOU KNOW, ROW YOUR BOAT IN THE SAME DIRECTION, THAT YOU CAN MAKE SOME CHANGES.

Steve says CAN YOU REPLICATE THAT EXPERIENCE IN OTHER PRIORITY NEIGHBOURHOODS IN THE CITY?

Steve Buist says I THINK YOU CAN. I THINK YOU CAN. IT'S NOT EASY, THOUGH, BECAUSE, I MEAN, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT CHANGING A LOT OF THINGS, YOU KNOW. FIXING PEOPLE'S HEALTH IS FIXING INCOME, EDUCATION, YOUR PARENTS, YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, YOUR PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT. I MEAN, THESE ARE WHAT'S CALLED THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH, AND THAT'S NOT EASY. AND 10 YEARS... LOOK, WE UNDERSTAND. 10 YEARS IS NOT LONG ENOUGH TO FIX POPULATION HEALTH. THAT REQUIRES A GENERATION OR MORE. BUT IT CAN BE DONE. IT CAN BE DONE.

Steve says LAURA, I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE OPIOID CRISIS. HOW IS IT MANIFESTING ITSELF IN HAMILTON AND CONTRIBUTING TO WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

Laura says I THINK YOU END UP WITH SO MANY LAYERS OF ISSUES TO DEAL WITH IN A COMMUNITY, AND THEY OVERLAP. YOU KNOW, WE'RE LOOKING AT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES THAT ARE NOT ADDRESSED, HOMELESSNESS, AND OPIOID USAGE, AND TRYING TO PIECE IT... NOT PIECE IT TOGETHER. IT'S EASY TO PIECE TOGETHER. BUT TO TAKE IT APART TO FIND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO GET INTO THE COMMUNITY, TO GAIN TRUST AMONG INDIVIDUALS, AND HAVE THEM UTILIZE THOSE SERVICES. I THINK HAMILTON IS DOING WELL WITH THAT. WE HAVE GREAT OUTREACH RESOURCES IN THAT SENSE. BUT, FOR ME, WHEN I LOOK AT IT, IT'S LIKE, WHY IS THIS RISING? WE COME UP WITH REALLY GREAT BAND-AIDS IN THE COMMUNITY, BUT ACTUALLY LOOKING AT, WHY YOUTH OR YOUNGER PEOPLE ARE TURNING TO THIS AND TRYING TO STOP IT UPSTREAM BEFORE IT BEGINS.

Steve says CAN I ASK YOU, SARA, ABOUT THE BASIC INCOME PROGRAM AND JUST TO REMIND EVERYBODY, THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT IN ONTARIO SET UP A BASIC INCOME PILOT PROGRAM IN THREE DIFFERENT MUNICIPALITIES AROUND ONTARIO: HAMILTON/BRANTFORD WAS ONE OF THEM. I GUESS THEY WERE A COUPLE OF YEARS INTO THIS PILOT PROGRAM. THE CONSERVATIVES THEN WON THE 2018 ELECTION. THEY CANCELLED THE PROGRAM ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, WHICH IS TO SAY, IT'S ONLY BEEN A YEAR AND A HALF SINCE THE THING'S BEEN CANCELLED AND I DON'T KNOW THAT YOU HAVE ANY HARD DATA ON THE IMPACT THAT THE CANCELLATION HAS HAD, BUT IF YOU DO, CAN YOU SHARE IT? AND IF YOU DON'T, CAN YOU GIVE ME YOUR ANECDOTAL SENSE OF WHERE IT'S AT?

Sara says WE KNOW ANECDOTALLY THERE WERE PEOPLE ON BASIC INCOME THAT HAVE DIED SINCE THEN, REALLY WITH A MENTAL IMPACT, ANGUISH, AND PHYSICAL IMPACT ON THEM BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A BETRAYAL, BECAUSE... IF PEOPLE HAD KNOWN THAT, OKAY, IT'S A POLITICAL FOOTBALL AND SOME PARTIES ARE AGAINST IT AND SOME PARTIES ARE FOR IT, THERE WOULD AT LEAST BE... BUT THE WAY IT HAPPENED IN THE ELECTION, IT WAS... ALL THE PARTIES SAID THEY WERE IN FAVOUR OF IT, AND THEN AFTER THE ELECTION, THIS GOVERNMENT GOT ELECTED AND CHANGED ITS MIND WITH NO NOTICE.

Steve says I WANT TO BE CLEAR HERE. I ASSUME YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT MICHAEL HAMPSON.

Sara says YES, YES.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says WHO WAS THE INDIVIDUAL IN QUESTION WHO IS NO LONGER WITH US.

Sara says YES.

Steve says ARE YOU SAYING HIS DEATH IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE CONSOLATION OF BASIC INCOME?

Sara says I AM NOT A MEDICAL DOCTOR.

Steve says WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT ALLEGATIONS THAT WE THROW AROUND, SO...

Sara says BUT THERE'S CLEAR IMPACT THAT... THERE HAVE BEEN... WE KNOW HOW MUCH BASIC INCOME REDUCED STRESS ON PEOPLE AND WE KNOW THAT THE CANCELLATION... SO (a) GOING BACK TO A VERY STRESSFUL SOCIAL ASSISTANCE INCOME SYSTEM AND ON TOP OF IT THE STRESS OF THE WAY THE CANCELLATION WAS DONE IS ENORMOUS AND CANNOT BE QUANTIFIED, BUT WE KNOW THAT... WE CAN'T ATTRIBUTE THINGS, BUT WE KNOW THAT IT CONTRIBUTED FOR SURE.

Steve says WE SHOULDN'T ASSUME EVERYBODY KNOWS WHO MICHAEL WAS. CAN YOU SHARE HIS STORY WITH US?

Laura says SO MICHAEL HAMPSON WAS AN ACTIVIST IN HAMILTON, AT ONE POINT BACK IN THE DAY, I THINK IN THE '90s, HE WAS ACTUALLY ACTIVE WITH GREENPEACE. HE WAS PART OF THE GROUP THAT SUPPORTED INDIGENOUS PERSONS IN HAMILTON DURING THE RED HILL EXPRESSWAY PROTESTS. AND WHEN... UNFORTUNATELY HE BECAME WHEELCHAIR-BOUND OF A SPINAL SURGERY. HE HAD TO HAVE A TUMOUR REMOVED, AND UNFORTUNATELY, IT WASN'T AS SUCCESSFUL AS HE HAD HOPED, AND DISABILITY ACTIVISM WAS HUGE. HE STARTED SOMETHING CALLED A CRAWL-IN. HE HAD DONE IT IN THE LEGISLATURE HERE IN ONTARIO. HE'S DONE IT AT CITY COUNCIL, TRYING TO BRING AWARENESS TO HOW UNFAIR AND HOW UNACCESSIBLE LIFE IS WHEN YOU'RE WHEELCHAIR-BOUND. SO LOOKING AT THAT, I KNEW MICHAEL QUITE WELL THROUGH HIS ACTIVISM AND BEFORE IN OUR YOUNGER YEARS IN THE VILLAGE AND ACROSS THE CITY...

Steve says HOW DID HE DIE?

Laura says SO HE HAD BEEN ILL WITH BLOOD INFECTIONS ON AND OFF FOR THREE YEARS. ONE OF HIS POINTS IN HIS ACTIVISM WAS ABOUT GETTING REGULAR HOME CARE TO ENSURE THAT THESE SORES WOULD GET ADEQUATELY TREATED ALL THE TIME. HIS FRUSTRATION WITH PEOPLE NOT SHOWING UP AND NOT ASSISTING HIM. WHEN HE WAS ON BASIC INCOME, NOT ONLY DID HE FEEL THAT HE WAS LEADING A MORE DIGNIFIED LIFE... EVERYTHING FROM HAIRCUTS TO CLEAN CLOTHING, TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD LAUNDRY, TO BE ABLE TO PAY FOR ASSISTANCE WHEN HIS REGULAR ASSISTANCE WOULDN'T SHOW UP... AND WHILE YOU CAN'T DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTE BLOOD POISONING TO BASIC INCOME CANCELLATION, HIS OWN FAMILY MEMBERS AND THOSE OF US AROUND HIM, I THINK THE BEST TERM YOU COULD USE, HE WAS BROKEN AFTER THE CANCELLATION. HIS MENTAL HEALTH NEVER RECOVERED.

Steve says AND HE DIED LAST MONTH.

Laura says AND HE DIED IN THE LAST MONTH, YES.

Steve says STEVE, WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN AND-OR HEARD ABOUT THE CANCELLATION OF THE BASIC INCOME PILOT PROGRAM AND WHAT THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED TO WHAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT?

Steve Buist says I THINK PROBABLY THE MOST DISTURBING PART OF IT IS THAT IT WAS CANCELED IN THE MINDS... IN THE MINDS OF PEOPLE IN HAMILTON, IT WAS CANCELLED WITH NO CLEAR EVIDENCE. SO IT WAS JUST AN ARBITRARY DECISION... IT WOULD BE ONE THING IF YOU HAD A PROGRAM AND YOU ANALYSED IT AND YOU LET IT RUN ITS COURSE AND YOU DECIDED THAT IT JUST WASN'T WORKING AND THEN YOU MADE THE DECISION TO PULL THE PLUG ON THAT PROGRAM. I THINK WHAT REALLY ANGERS PEOPLE IN HAMILTON IS THAT THE DECISION WAS MADE WITH NO EVIDENCE AT ALL. AND IN FACT THERE ARE PEOPLE IN HAMILTON WHO WERE STUDYING THE IMPACT OF THIS AND GATHERING EVIDENCE, PEOPLE LIKE JIM DUNN, A WELL-KNOWN, YOU KNOW, SOCIAL PROFESSOR AT McMASTER UNIVERSITY. HE WAS PART OF THE TEAM OF PEOPLE GATHERING DATA, ANALYSING THE EVIDENCE. AND THE EVIDENCE SEEMED TO BE POINTING TO EXACTLY WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, THAT THIS WAS CHANGING AND HELPING PEOPLE'S LIVES, AND THEN THEY HAD THE RUG PULLED OUT FROM UNDER THEM. AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT'S CAUSED A LOT OF THE ANGST IN HAMILTON, IS THAT THESE PEOPLE IN GOOD FAITH WERE PART OF A PROGRAM, HAD THE RUG PULLED OUT FROM UNDER THEM, AND NOW ARE BACK IN WORSE SITUATIONS THAN THEY WERE BEFORE THEY STARTED.

Steve says SARA, I SHOULD ASK YOU, BECAUSE WE DO SEE ON THE COVERS OF MAGAZINES, THAT HAMILTON IS CONSIDERED KIND OF ONE OF THE COOL PLACES TO LIVE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO NOW, RIGHT? IT'S BEEN REFERRED TO AS THE BROOKLYN OF THE NORTH AND THERE ARE NEIGHBOURHOODS THAT ARE GENTRIFYING AND THERE ARE, YOU KNOW, PLACES WHERE THERE ARE CUTE LITTLE CAFES AND COFFEE SHOPS BEING SET UP, AND THAT IS... THAT IS... YOU KNOW, YOU CAN AFFORD TO BUY A HOME THERE. THAT'S AN INCREASING IMPRESSION OF HAMILTON. HOW ACCURATE IS IT?

The caption changes to "Electrifying or gentrifying?"

Sara says I THINK THAT THERE'S BEEN... YOU KNOW, CITIES ARE ALWAYS IN TRANSFORMATION. CITIES ARE NEVER, YOU KNOW, EXACTLY THE SAME 10 YEARS AGO. IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS, HAMILTON WILL BE DIFFERENT, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER CITY IN HAMILTON... IN CANADA. AND I THINK THAT, YES, THERE HAS BEEN... YOU KNOW, THERE'S GROWING INEQUALITY, LIKE THERE IS ACROSS CANADA. THERE'S GROWING INEQUALITY IN HAMILTON. AND SO THERE ARE MORE RETAIL SHOPS THAT CATER TO A HIGHER-END CLIENTELE, BUT THERE'S CONTINUING POVERTY AND GROWING GAP BETWEEN THE TWO, AND SO... BUT IT CAN HELP THE WHOLE CITY IN THAT THERE'S MORE INVESTMENT, AND SO THERE'S MORE JOBS THAN THERE WERE. SO THAT'S CERTAINLY A GOOD THING.

Steve says I AM HEARING LOTS OF STORIES CONSTANTLY ABOUT PEOPLE WHO ARE FED UP WITH TORONTO, THEY CAN'T AFFORD HOUSING PRICES HERE, THEY GO TO HAMILTON AND THEY'RE, YOU KNOW, HAPPY AS HELL. YOU HEAR THAT TOO, I PRESUME?

Steve Buist says ABSOLUTELY. GENTRIFICATION IS HAPPENING IN HAMILTON. THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. WHAT'S CAUSING THE FRICTION IN HAMILTON IS THAT THE GENTRIFICATION IS HAPPENING IN PLACES THAT WERE TRADITIONALLY AFFORDABLE TO LIVE. YOU HAMILTONIANS WILL KNOW THAT THE LOWER CITY HAS THESE BEAUTIFUL OLD VICTORIAN HOMES. HOWEVER, YOU KNOW, SOME OF THESE VICTORIAN HOMES MAY BE TWO-FAMILY HOMES OR THREE-FAMILY HOMES, AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, THEY'RE CONVERTED BACK INTO BEING A BEAUTIFUL ONE-FAMILY HOME. SO YOU HAVE THIS DISPLACEMENT OF PEOPLE. AND SO IT'S THAT AGE-OLD TUG OF, YOU KNOW, YES, WE SHOULD BE WELCOMING THE FACT THAT THERE ARE WEALTHIER PEOPLE BRINGING INVESTMENT, BRINGING THEIR MONEY TO HAMILTON, YOU KNOW, RISING REAL ESTATE VALUES, YOU KNOW, IS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD. IT'S GREAT FOR THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE REAL ESTATE. IT'S NOT GREAT FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET REAL ESTATE. BUT IT'S THAT AGE-OLD TUG BETWEEN, SO YOU'VE GOT THESE PEOPLE COMING INTO YOUR CITY, BRINGING WEALTH WITH THEM VERSUS THE DISPLACEMENT. AND WHERE DO THOSE PEOPLE GO? IF THOSE ARE DISADVANTAGED PEOPLE AND RENTS ARE RISING AND REAL ESTATE PRICES ARE RISING, THEN ARE YOU JUST BOOTING THEM DOWN THE HIGHWAY TO THE NEXT PLACE THAT THEY CAN AFFORD?

Steve says YOU'VE BEEN HERE MANY TIMES BUT I'M NOT SURE I'VE EVER ASKED YOU WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD YOU LIVE IN HAMILTON. WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Steve Buist says I CURRENTLY LIVE IN CORKTOWN. I AM DOWNTOWN.

Steve says THAT'S A NICE PART OF TOWN.

Steve Buist says IT IS NOW. IT IS GENTRIFYING QUITE WELL.

Steve says DO YOU SAY THAT AS A POSITIVE THING?

Steve Buist says I THINK WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THIS BEFORE, BUT I'M GOING TO SAY IT AGAIN JUST IN CASE. THE PROBLEM WITH GENTRIFICATION GOES FAR BEYOND THE COST OF HOUSING, EVEN THOUGH HOUSING COSTS ARE SO IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO REMAIN HOUSED. GENTRIFICATION IS ABOUT AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY CHANGING, INCLUDING THE SHOPS THAT ARE THERE, ACCESS TO GROCERIES, TO LAUNDROMATS, EVERYTHING AROUND IT. SO EVEN IF PEOPLE DON'T HAVE THEIR RENT INCREASING, YOU START TO LOSE THE AMENITIES THAT THEY'RE USED TO, THAT THEY CAN AFFORD, INCLUDING COFFEE SHOPS. INSTEAD OF THE 2 dollar COFFEE, YOU'RE NOW PAYING A 5 dollar COFFEE. YOU KNOW, BOUTIQUE GROCERY SHOPS INSTEAD OF SOMETHING MORE AFFORDABLE. AND SO THEIR COST OF LIVING STARTS TO GO UP OR THEY'RE PAYING MORE FOR TRANSPORTATION TO GO OUTSIDE THEIR AREA TO SOMEWHERE AFFORDABLE. SO IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD, IT WOULD BE FANTASTIC IF IT WASN'T FOR THE FACT IT IS STARTING TO DISPLACE PEOPLE AND RENTS ARE STARTING TO GO UP.

Steve says WELL, LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT BECAUSE IT IS NOT APPARENT FROM OUR CONVERSATION HERE, BUT YOU ARE A PERSON WHO FIGHTS WITH DISABILITIES.

Laura says INDEED.

Steve says AND YOU ARE ON A DISABILITY PENSION AS A RESULT.

Laura says YES.

Steve says AND I WONDER WHETHER OR NOT THE GENTRIFICATION OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN WHICH YOU LIVE, WHICH FROM AN OUTSIDER'S POINT OF VIEW MAY LOOK LIKE A WONDERFUL REGENERATION OF THE CITY, WHETHER IT'S CAUSING PROBLEMS FOR YOU IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE NOW?

Laura says ABSOLUTELY IT IS.

Steve says HOW SO?

Laura says I COUNT MYSELF LUCKY BECAUSE I'M EMPLOYED PART TIME AND I DO HAVE A CONDOMINIUM UNIT, UNFORTUNATELY DUE TO MY MOM'S PASSING. THE PAST YEAR, IN ORDER TO KEEP UP WITH PROPERTY VALUES IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, WE'VE LOOKED AT WHETHER TO DO A SPECIAL ASSESSMENT OR TAKE A LOAN FOR OUR CONDOMINIUM CORPORATION. IN ONE FELL SWOOP WE WENT FOR THE LOAN INSTEAD OF SPECIAL ASSESSMENT BECAUSE MANY LIKE ME ARE EITHER FIXED INCOME SENIORS OR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN THE BUILDING. THE LOAN WENT UP 140 dollars.

Steve says FOR THE CONDO. EVERY MONTH.

Laura says EVERY MONTH.

Steve says DISABILITY SUPPORT STATEMENTS ARE NOT GOING UP THAT MUCH EVERY MONTH.

Laura says IT'S FROZEN. EVEN WITH MY CPP DISABILITY, WHICH DOES INCREASE, IT'S INDEXED, ODSP TAKES A DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR OFF OF THEIR CHEQUE. SO UNLESS I GET A REALLY SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN HOURS, WHICH I CAN'T DO BECAUSE OF MY DISABILITY, I'M STUCK. AND EVEN MORE SO, THE STRESS MOUNTS BECAUSE IF I LOSE MY EMPLOYMENT TO INABILITY TO WORK OR IT'S NOT THERE ANYMORE, I WON'T BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN MY HOUSING, AND WHEN I LOOK AT REAL ESTATE VALUES ACROSS THE CITY, I REALLY DON'T HAVE MANY OPTIONS AS TO, YOU KNOW, SELLING AND BEING ABLE TO PURCHASE SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Steve says WELL, YOU PROBABLY COULDN'T... YOU PROBABLY COULDN'T SELL YOUR CONDO AND PURCHASE ANOTHER PLACE IN CORKTOWN. YOU'D HAVE TO MOVE TO... WHAT DO I CALL IT?... A LOWER INCOME NEIGHBORHOOD, A LESSER NEIGHBORHOOD? YOU DON'T WANT TO DO THAT, OBVIOUSLY.

Laura says BUT IN HAMILTON THERE AREN'T. VERY, VERY FEW... AND I DON'T WANT TO NAME NEIGHBOURHOODS SPECIFICALLY. THERE ARE VERY FEW PLACES WHERE A CONDO WOULD BE CHEAPER THAN WHAT I WOULD SELL FOR. SO THEN, BECAUSE OF RULES, I WOULDN'T GET INCOME. I WOULD HAVE TO SPEND ANY EQUITY THAT I'VE MADE FROM IT BEFORE I COULD HAVE ODSP INCOME.

Steve says I GET YOU.

Laura says IT'S HORRIBLE.

Steve says STEVE, TELL US THIS. FOR PEOPLE WATCHING WHO DON'T LIVE IN HAMILTON... OR EVEN MAYBE FOR THOSE IN HAMILTON, I DON'T WANT TO SOUND LIKE WE'RE PICKING ON THE STEEL CITY, OR THE AMBITIOUS CITY AS WE CALLED IT WHEN I WAS A KID LIVING THERE. I DO WANT TO ASK THIS: IS THERE SOMETHING PARTICULAR ABOUT THE CITY OF HAMILTON THAT MAKES THESE PROBLEMS THAT WE'VE BEEN DESCRIBING HERE PARTICULARLY CHALLENGING?

Steve Buist says SO I THINK HAMILTON IS STILL FIGURING OUT HOW TO DEAL WITH ITS HISTORY, ITS LEGACY OF BEING A STEELMAKER, HEAVY INDUSTRY, MANUFACTURING CITY WHERE, FOR MANY, MANY DECADES, THE '30s, THE '40S, THE '50s, THE '60s, THE '70s, ERAS WHEN YOU COULD LITERALLY BE AN IMMIGRANT WHO GOT OFF THE BOAT ON A SUNDAY AND ON MONDAY GET A JOB AT A STEELMAKER. THAT'S NOT AN EXAGGERATION. THAT'S THE WAY IT USED TO BE IN THE '50s AND '60s.

Steve says AND AT A PRETTY GOOD WAGE.

Steve Buist says SO THAT WAS GREAT. YOU COULD, THROUGH THE STRENGTH OF UNIONIZATION AND, YOU KNOW, GOOD WORKING CONDITIONS, GOOD WAGES, YOU COULD LIVE A GREAT LIFE, MAKE A DECENT WAGE WITH NO EDUCATION, OR LITTLE EDUCATION. AND THEN IN THE SPAN OF A GENERATION... SO IN THE ORIGINAL CODE RED I SAID THAT IN A 5-KILOMETRE BY 2-KILOMETRE STRETCH ON THE WATERFRONT ALONG BURLINGTON STREET IN THE SPAN OF ONE GENERATION, 25,000 JOBS WERE LOST JUST FROM THAT LITTLE STRIP.

Steve says THAT'S WHERE THE STEEL COMPANIES ARE.

Steve Buist says THAT'S WITH THE LOSS OF JOBS... SO THE IRONY THAT STELCO AND DEFASCO ARE MAKING AS MUCH STEEL WITH A TENTH OF THE WORK FORCE. YOU LOST THESE 25,000 JOBS, GOOD PAYING JOBS THAT COULD SUPPORT 100,000 PEOPLE, AND THEY'RE GONE IN RELATIVELY... YOU KNOW, ALMOST THE BLINK OF AN EYE. AND SO WE'RE STILL STRUGGLING WITH... YOU KNOW, SO WHERE ARE THESE GOOD-PAYING JOBS WITH... WHERE YOU DIDN'T NEED A HIGH LEVEL OF SKILLED TRADES OR EVEN EDUCATION, AND THOSE ARE GONE NOW. AND SO WE'RE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THAT TRANSITION TO THIS NEW WORLD AND A LOT OF PEOPLE GOT LEFT BEHIND.

Steve says SARA, WE'VE GOT ABOUT A MINUTE TO GO HERE. IF YOU WANTED TO GIVE THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO SOME ADVICE ON HOW THEY MIGHT IMPROVE THE SITUATION, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

The caption changes to "Hammering out a better future."

Sara says I THAT I THAT THERE'S A LOT THAT CAN BE DONE TO GIVE POWER BACK TO PEOPLE, THAT MIGHT NOT EVEN COST ANYTHING, YOU KNOW? IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE SOLUTIONS THAT INCREASE THE DEFICIT, IF THAT'S THE CONCERN. IT CAN BE THINGS LIKE GIVING WORKERS MORE RIGHTS IN THE WORKPLACE, PUTTING MORE REGULATION AROUND TEMP WORKERS AND AROUND WORKERS' HEALTH AND SAFETY, REDUCING EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION FOR PEOPLE, WHICH IS A HUGE PEOPLE. SO GIVING MORE POWER TO WORKERS. IMPROVING EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS. AND GIVING MORE POWER TO TENANTS THAT RIGHT NOW TENANTS HAVE VERY LITTLE POWER IN THE RENTAL MARKET AND OTHER PROVINCES DO A MUCH BETTER JOB, LIKE QUEBEC. AND THOSE THINGS WOULDN'T COST THE GOVERNMENT ANY MONEY AND WOULD ALL OF A SUDDEN KIND OF, YOU KNOW, LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD AND GIVE MORE POWER TO PEOPLE SO THAT THEY CAN, YOU KNOW, SORT OF FIGHT THE FORCES OF INEQUALITY ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS IN A BETTER WAY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Steve says GOTCHA. OKAY. THAT'S GOING TO BE THE LAST WORD. I WANT TO THANK THE THREE OF YOU FOR COMING DOWN THE QEW AND JOINING US IN MIDTOWN T.O. STEVE BUIST, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AT THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR WHO CELEBRATED HIS 33rd ANNIVERSARY WITH THAT PAPER. WELL DONE, SIR.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve Buist says I'M GOING TO CRY.

Steve says SARA MAYO WITH THE SOCIAL PLANNING AND RESEARCH COUNCIL OF HAMILTON AND LAURA CATTARI FROM THE HAMILTON ROUNDTABLE FOR POVERTY REDUCTION. GOOD OF ALL OF YOU TO JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT.

All the guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: Left Behind in Growing Hamilton