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March 12, 2003
City-endorsed coalition aims to make inadequate social assistance rates key provincial election issue
A new media campaign unveiled today aims to make inadequate social assistance
rates a critical discussion point for the upcoming provincial election.
Councillor Olivia Chow, Chair of Toronto's Community Services Committee, and
Sue Cox, Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank, joined a group of
community organizations to unveil the latest elements of the "Pay the Rent and
Feed the Kids" campaign - posters that will appear in transit shelters and on
trash bins across Toronto for the next month.

This province-wide campaign, which was endorsed by Toronto City Council in
February 2003, features a collaboration between community organizations, the
private sector, labour unions
and other concerned organizations, who all believe that a critical step to
resolving many homelessness and hunger issues is to ensure that the shelter
component of provincial social assistance rates reflects the true costs of
housing, especially in Toronto.

Large-format advertisements will appear in 50 transit shelters located
strategically across Toronto for the next month. As well, a different
advertisement will appear on 250 media bins across the city. This campaign
represents a unique collaboration and a sharing of municipal, community agency
and private sector resources. Beacon Advertising provided pro bono creative for
the transit shelter ad, while Palmer Jarvis DDB handled the pro bono creative
for the media bin ad. The City of Toronto allowed their designated spaces to be
used for this purpose, so the placement of the ads was at no cost to the

"It's the least we could do," said Councillor Chow. "Since 1999, Council has
recommended no fewer than seven times that the Province increase social
assistance rates, because people were being forced to pay the rent or feed
their kids - but they could not afford to do both. We want these ads to serve
as a reminder to members of all political parties, and to the Toronto citizens
who have a vote in the next provincial election, that people are hungry, and
it's time the government did something about it."

The Province of Ontario cut social assistance rates by 21.6% in 1995, and there
have been no increases since. During the same time period, average rents in
Toronto have increased by 32% (the highest increase in the province) while the
shelter allowance has remained unchanged.

As the real costs of living in Toronto rise, so does the desperation of people
whose income falls further and further behind the average. The Pay the Rent and
Feed the Kids campaign will continue to introduce new elements and strategies
for ensuring this message of desperation is heard by the people, including
voters across Toronto, who are in the position to offer solutions.

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