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They profit, we suffer

SEPTEMBER 4, 1995 – August 22 between 300 and 600 marchers went from Regent Park, one of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, to Rosedale, home of some of Toronto’s wealthiest business tycoons.

The demonstration, organized by the Toronto Direct Action Committee of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), targeted the palatial home of Hal Jackman, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor.[1] Jackman is the one who will actually sign the order-in-council to slash welfare payments to over 1 million people in the province.

Growing numbers of welfare recipients and unemployed workers across Ontario are becoming actively involved in OCAP’s campaign to stop the attacks on the poor waged by Mike Harris and the Tories. Harris plans to cut welfare benefits by 22 percent at the end of September. This will mean that the maximum benefit for a single person will be slashed from $663 a month to $520.[2]

For people who can barely afford to pay their rent now, the cuts will mean many more homeless, more children going hungry, more desperation among those who are already suffering.

The anger people feel at seeing their lives wrecked while the wealthy will benefit from the Harris’ government 30 percent tax cut, was visible as marchers passed by the huge mansions in Rosedale. Speaker after speaker denounced the Harris government and vowed to fight their attempts to scapegoat the poor and the unemployed for the economic crisis.

The next action in OCAP’s campaign is a march and rally being planned to coincide with the mass demonstration called for the opening of the provincial legislature, September 27 at Queen’s Park. A group of marchers will be leaving from the office of David Tsubouchi, Minister of Community and Social Services. Tsubouchi recently announced the creation of fraud squads,[3] welfare workers who will go into people’s homes with no warning, to make sure they really “deserve” welfare.

The march will pick up supporters along the way to culminate in a rally at Allan Gardens. From there the anti-poverty protestors will march to Queen’s Park to join the anti-Tory rally. It will be a concrete demonstration of the need for solidarity between employed and unemployed to beat the Tory agenda and the attempt to divide and conquer.

© 1995 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


[1] CP, “Poverty Protest Targets Jackman,” The Record (Kitchener), August 23, 1995.

[2] William Walker, “Workfare May Get Votes but Experts Say It Won’t Save Money: [Final Edition],” Toronto Star, June 3, 1995.

[3] A label (“fraud squad”) which was widely used at the time, including by people who supported the Harris agenda. (Randall Denley, “Welfare System Changes Reasonable First Step in Social Reform,” Ottawa Citizen, August 26, 1995.)

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