Thursday marked the opening of the Poverty Free Ontario campaign locally with a press conference held at the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre.
The plan of the campaign is to attempt to eliminate poverty in Ontario by 2020.
“Looking at the 13.1 per cent level of poverty throughout the province, it’s staggering,” said Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso in the conference. “We would hope that as a community, we would develop economically with the different strategies we continue to diversify so that everyone has an ability to share in the wealth of the community.”
Amaroso added that the city is willing to make a commitment to help in making this happen.
“There’s a commitment from the city of Sault Ste. Marie – myself, council and city staff – to really look at what strategies need to be in place to make sure we’re addressing this issue,” said Amaroso. “We will work with whomever we need to work with to do that. The city is committed to working in collaboration with those that know what needs to be done.”
For Soup Kitchen Executive Director Calna McGoldrick, to have the campaign open at the Soup Kitchen was important, not only for the staff, but for those who use the facility on a regular basis.
“For us what it means to have them here is that for the people who are living in poverty that come here every day are aware,” said McGoldrick. “People are out there that are trying to change things and trying to help. They’re showing us that the community does care and we don’t see that as often. And it’s nice to have them come here and see what we’re all about. It’s not that soup kitchen that some imagine where there’s lineups. It’s so much more than that.”
With local dignitaries in attendance, the kickoff was held in partnership with the Community Quality Institute in an initiative that was being held across Ontario.
Other cities also taking part in the initiative include Sudbury, Kingston Cornwall, Belleville and Toronto.