Poverty Talks Members at City Hall to say "No to Cuts."

From Left to Right: Brad and Nigel, from Poverty Talks! as well as Ivan from Vibrant Communities Calgary.

Calgary, AB - Members of Poverty Talks! joined with representatives of various organizations and faith groups as well people living in poverty at City Hall on Monday and Tuesday - July 22nd and 23rd - to show opposition to the proposed $60 Million budget cuts. 

On Monday, the groups - totaling almost 300 individuals - watched as council voted not to hear their concerns, despite hearing the concerns of businessmen in committee. The decision to debate the cuts was then moved to Tuesday at 1pm. Close to 125 individuals returned on Tuesday and Councillor Farkas put forth a notice of motion and moved that council allow those in the gallery to speak. After consulting with the city clerk, council voted to allow the members to speak.

Before debating the cuts, it should be noted that Council voted to direct administration to seek ways to not only preserve affordable transit (the sliding scale low income bus pass), but to see if there are opportunities to expand the program.

Because many of our steering committee members also participate in other organizations and community organizations, the members who spoke opted to speak as private citizens, drawing on experiences from their involvement with various groups as well as their own personal struggles with living in poverty.

Nigel gave an impassioned plea to consider that it's not just the impact on human lives at stake, but actual human lives, noting the increasing number of individuals in homelessness and housing first that pass away each year because despite the best efforts of those in the sector, services are still inadequate. Brad spoke about how these cuts could impact the disability community - notably rumored cuts to transit and access Calgary.

Unfortunately, after hearing from those in the gallery who wished to speak, council voted 13-1 to implement the cuts, with only Councilor Farrell voting against, and Councilor Jones absent.

Notable impact on the cuts for those living in poverty include cuts to Calgary Transit, which will impact service reliability as well as Access Calgary, though the city says this should not impact service. Additionally, there have been cuts made to affordable housing by reducing grants to non-profit affordable housing by $188,000 dollars. It's will not have an impact on current housing but will mean less options available in the future, to the tune of 52 fewer units developed. This will certainly have an impact on efforts to house the homeless, as well as people otherwise vulnerable and seeking safe housing options - such as victims of domestic violence or youth in care.

Poverty Talks! wishes to thank Keep Calgary Strong and all those who attended on Monday or Tuesday for their advocacy and voices.