Read remarks made by Mayor Matt Brown on March 31, 2016 at a media event for the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty Report Release.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that this event is taking place on the traditional territories of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendt ,Attawandaron, and Lenape Indigenous peoples.
Thank you. It hardly seems enough to say only those two words after this enormous effort, knowing everyone involved didn’t do this for thanks makes me want to say it twice as loud.
I would especially like to say thank you and to welcome our guests who, by bravely sharing their experiences with the panel, helped us all gain a better understanding of what poverty means in London. It can be very difficult to share personal stories as you have, and I know that your contributions were instrumental in informing many of the recommendations contained in this report.
Thanks you as well to my Council colleagues, as well as MP’s Peter Fragiskatos and Irene Mathyssen, and MPP Theresa Armstrong, who have joined us this morning.
Thank you to all of the members of the advisory panel on poverty. In volunteering your time, your talent and your expertise you have demonstrated your passionate commitment to our City and to your fellow Londoners. Thank you also to so many members of the community for your early feedback. You helped us make this panel stronger.
Six months ago, this group of talented Londoners came together when I asked them to confront an extremely difficult and complex reality in our community. I challenged them to find ways in which we could, collectively, better coordinate our effort in order to more effectively address poverty in London.
Today I am pleased to receive their recommendations. I know it is a comprehensive, thoughtful and focussed report. I know it will be a call to action for our community, for all of us who strive to make London a better city for all.
I also know it is in alignment with the stated goals of both the federal government, whose recent budget emphasized social justice, and the provincial government, whose Poverty Reduction Strategy focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty for children and youth. We will need to look to our federal and provincial partners, as well as to our community partners to work with us in moving the panel’s recommendations forward. Poverty is a problem affecting our entire community and we will need to address it together as a community if we are to truly make a difference.
One of the best parts of my job is recognizing people, who selflessly dedicate so much of their time and talent to improving the lives of their fellow Londoners. There is so much good work being done here in London and there are so many individuals committed to helping to make our city a better place for everyone.
But this morning it’s hard for me to find the words to adequately express my gratitude to the panel members and to all of those Londoners who helped create this plan. I’m grateful to those people who truly believe, like I do, that real and lasting change is possible, that there are solutions to ending poverty.
Because ending poverty isn’t only about helping our most vulnerable. We know that poverty affects all of us – there are economic, social and even spiritual implications for our entire community. And addressing this burden will help us, as a community to realize our true potential.
The statistics are sobering: In London, 17% of our fellow citizens live in poverty; 24% of our children live in poverty; 41% of indigenous people live in poverty; 27% of those living in poverty are persons with disabilities; and there are 11,000 adults are among the working poor here in London.
As shocking as these numbers are, they cannot, they must not, deter us from our responsibility: to build a city that includes everyone.
This report is an important step on a road we all share. As we move forward - together, I am asking the panel to do one final task. I am asking them to present this report to City Council for endorsement at the April 18 SPPC Committee Meeting.
Every Londoner should read this report.
Moving forward I am so pleased that Deputy Mayor Cassidy has decided to continue to play a leadership role for this important work as we transition now towards the implementation of these recommendations.
As we embark on an era of city building that is unprecedented since London’s founding, one that will see many projects… and the largest infrastructure investments we’ve ever made as a community, it’s important to remember that a truly great city is one in which all of us are included. A truly great city is one where no one is left behind. This is about building a better London for all together.
And Together, we can, we must and we will succeed.