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Teresa Porter, Volunteer, LAMP Community Lunch Program, Newmarket, Ontario

Pauline Apperly, Director, Our Town Food bank, Tottenham, Ontario

Alf Judd, Former Director of Operations, Georgina Community Food Pantry, Sutton, Ontario
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Metro Morning hosts Kathleen Wynne

December 3, 2015

CBC Metro Morning host Matt Galloway welcomed Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne to his "Sounds of the Season" program on December 3rd.

Before the premier's arrival, activists from Put Food in the Budget and their allies had been busy handing out the Put Food in the Budget's 2015 food bank postcard to the hundreds of early-risers waiting in line outside the Glenn Gould Theatre.

Here's the conversation Matt Galloway had with Kathleen Wynne:

MG: We're delighted that you're here. In part because we've been talking all week long about food bank use and some of the reasons why people need food banks. We know that usage has risen something like 15% since 2008. We know that 34% of food bank users are children. Why has it been so difficult to lower those numbers?

KW: Well, the reality is that it is difficult. We have ... we've done a number of things to attempt to address the reasons that people have to go to food banks. The Ontario Child Benefit is probably the most important thing that we did. We ... we've put more than $100 a month per child into the hands of families. Not just families on social assistance, but like the mother that was here earlier - working families who still are not able to make ends meet. We increased rates every year - I know, I know there are people in this audience who believe that we haven't done enough in terms of rates. I get that ... and I just want to acknowledge those people because the activists who push us - who push government - who say "You gotta do more" - are extremely, extremely important. So when we ... you know we put a hundred million dollars annually into the budget - new money - last year to increase rates for people on, families on OW - Ontario Works - ODSP recipients, but we put a 3% increase targeted at single adults because that group of people hadn't seen an increase. So, so we're doing a number of things. The next ... the next thing, Matt, that I think we've got to tackle is homelessness. Because what we know is that if people don't have a place to live everything else is more complicated. And so you're going to see over the next couple of months a plan that we're bringing forward. We wanna, y'know we wanna target chronic homelessness, but also the issues around affordable housing. So, right now we don't, we don't have for example a housing benefit that's portable, that goes with people ...

MG: Right.

KW: ... it, we're dependant on units of affordable housing. We're talking with mayors, including John Tory, about how we can - at the provincial government - facilitate the building of more affordable housing and help with the changes that need to happen in social housing. We now have a federal government that is gonna work with us and that is going to make a huge difference. So we know that there's more to be done. [Applause]

MG: I want to, just very briefly because we're almost out of time, we have to let you go ... We have seen this extraordinary outpouring of generosity when it comes to Syrian refugees - people who are coming here - we see people who are getting together, trying to figure out how to sponsor those families. How can we play that forward so that people are also extending that to other areas of society where people are being left behind? [Applause]

KW: Well, it's interesting because I actually believe that that spirit and that motivation exists. You know it's the reason that people get impatient with government. Remember government is ... government exists to tackle the systematic issues and do it in a way that ... that is constant and ongoing. And so I think the reason why people get impatient with government is that we're not ... we don't move fast enough, we don't get everything right and we don't get it done as quickly as people would like to see. And I think it's that same impulse that reaches out to the Syrian refugees. So it's there all the time. It, it flashes when there's a humanitarian crisis like the Syrian refugees. But you know what, we're a ... we're a good people. I believe in the people of this province and this country and that ... that impulse is there all the time and we're blessed as government to be able to tap into it on a regular basis.

MG: It's great to have you here, as always. Thank you.

KW: Have a great season everyone.

MG: ... have it for the premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne. Jane Rounthwaite. [Applause] They brought food. And they brought money. [Applause] And she addressed some of the issues we've been talking about all week long. Thanks again, nice to see you both. [Applause]

Click here to read some of the issues Put Food in the Budget has been talking about since 2009! - PDF (149 KB)

Click here for your copy of the Put Food in the Budget 2015 food bank postcard - PDF (1.2 MB)