Messages from the Community

 We  have stitched together our own social safety net to show the Government how it should be done!


Individuals and groups from the following municipalities have contributed squares:






Port Colborne

Fort Erie

Crystal Beach





Thunder Bay

Richmond Hill




 Highlights from some of the  messages that accompanied art squares:


This piece represents an ideal world, which is possible, where everyone has a right to and has access to housing.  The government should prioritize the needs of those who are marginalized and in need of the social safety net, rather than prioritizing the wants of those few who hold money and power and promote the status quo. 

Susan Dobson – Richmond hill


There are too many people living on the street who deserve housing. 

Tony Kolja-Nikolic – Community Outreach Services, Toronto


Everyone has the right to housing.  Communities are better when people are housed.  Quit cutting social housing funding.  Support people to stay housed. 

Lois Didyk - Community Outreach Servcies, Toronto East General Hospital., Toronto


Housing is a basic need, a human right and one of the most important determinants of health if we want people to live healthier lives, less suffering and less healthcare spending.  We should start with housing.  Build more affordable housing. 

Alex -  Dufferin SRC, Toronto.


Housing is a human right. 

Chelsea Matheson -  Toronto


We are a very small Sunday School Class (three boys age 6 and 7).  We didn’t feel it was right that people sometimes have to chose between food or heat and keeping a roof over their heads because the cost of housing is so high.   We would like our government to consider putting more money towards affordable housing.

Respectfully submitted by the children of Bloordale United Church, Toronto


This piece represents the prayers for justice that we should all be making, and the fact that it is unfinished represents the work that needs to happen for justice to be realized.  I would ask the governments to take unified actions to both provide housing that is supported and acceptable for the tenants, and to provide an adequate income for even the most vulnerable of our populations.  This would include a minimum wage that would allow a full time worker enough income to meet the LIM (Low Income Measure) and increased social assistance rates to a level that would allow the recipients to live with dignity.

Catherine Stewart Savage - Kitchener


We would ask that the government review its planned cuts to social assistance.  Perhaps an investigation into the ponderous, difficult and demeaning application process might be streamlined to better serve those in need.  Perhaps the seemingly punitive treatment of those of us who are trying to get ahead only to find our benefits cut off could be reviewed.  As it stands, it is easier to stay on social assistance rather than try and get ahead.  There is something wrong with this picture and it can be fixed.

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to be heard.


The Peers of the krasman Centre - Alliston


The piece submitted represents homelessness, as many individuals with mental health problems cannot find their way, and end up ‘falling through the cracks’, within our system.  You will see one character sleeping on the street, one of the characters is fishing as he does not have enough food, and the third character is carrying a candle due to lack of money to pay for hydro.  We are concerned by these issues and the importance that they be addressed.  Therefore, the Ontario Government should be having conversations about building more affordable housing, increasing social assistance benefits, and finding ways to help our homeless navigate the government/health system.

Thank you for the opportunity of participating in your vision of creating a social safety net.

Suzanne Rivard, Debby Ouimette -Northern Initiative for Social Action, Sudbury.


As an advocate I’m asking the government to not steal the hope and joy of people living in poverty.  Poverty is a chain, the government needs to remove the chains, by making the social safety net so secure that there are no systemic cracks in it.

Marijke -  Toronto


My picture tells you what services are important to me.  It’s time to care and improve these services for people who need them – housing, medical services, ODSP, dental care, hospital care, etc.  We really need your support!

Viney Purificati - Port Colborne


This piece represents the age-old dilemma for those who are on social assistance – given the pittance received from the government, can one afford to pay rent or eat this month?  Food banks are an inadequate band-aid, and try finding a room for less that $500 a month.  Ontario Works alright – it works to keep people trapped in an endless and degrading cycle of poverty.

The government needs to (a) raise the social assistance rates for those on OW/ODSP so that recipients can have a basic standard of living and not be forced to choose between shelter and eating that day, and (b) build more affordable housing – extremely important in a city that these days seems only to build for the relatively affluent.

Vashty Hawkins - Toronto


My piece represents how expensive knowledge/education/books are.

I think that the Ontario government should either provide more funding for students or put a cap on tuition.

Jenna Davis- Toronto


My artistic piece represents how tuition required for post-secondary education should not cost so much!.  OSAP is an excellent way of allowing those who cannot afford a chance to attend school.  However, it isn’t an option for everyone.  In my 5th year I am over 25 thousand dollars in debt.  Governments should lower the tuition or provide more student support through increased grants.

Natasha  Rajaratnam - Toronto.


As a human being I deserve to have a safe clean place,  to have good healthy food all month, school and work opportunities, safe daycare, medical care for whatever medical issues I need, physical or mental..  If you don’t have a safe clean place to live and basic needs met, you can not think about working, going to school.

Dorothy - Toronto


This represents the undignified, inhumane lived experience of almost all persons with disabilities who are falling through Ontario’s social safety net. Raise income rates to ensure people can live in dignity!

David Meyers - BIrchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, Toronto


There are many ambitious people out there that feel excluded from the things that others take for granted; jobs, homes to live in, accessible and affordable education, etc. Create jobs with sustainable incomes and make sure that others who cannot work can afford to live some life as well.  Stop making people ill and insecure.

Emma Frees  -  Toronto


Will there be any safety net available for the next generation?



Someone who receives the financial support they need to obtain employment will ultimately benefit the society they live in.

Bob Coulter - Houselink, member of the Dream Team, Toronto


Create awareness for those who are not seen in society.  It can feel so bad to be ignored, to be overlooked.  Help ‘the public’ to see their fellow citizens.  That the CARE is carried by a net of help, a net of society.

Liesbeth – Mustard Seed, Toronto


An indication they they (the government) have the power to create whatever they want to through legislation – our lives are in their hands.

Paul Lowery - Mustard Seed, Toronto


I have no heat or drains in my home.  The one room I live in, the ceiling is half fallen down and threatens to fall more.  It leaks when it rains.  There is not enough assistance to help seniors keep their home livable.

May E. Milne - Toronto


We need all 3 levels of government working together without the popularity contests interfering. 

Catherine Potts -  Pathways, Toronto


Provide services for those who need it; so we all have equal opportunity despite our disabilities.

Kelly - What’s Next Drop-in, North York


The women of Hickson United Church have knit, crocheted or created different squares and put them together to show our concern for the safety net.  We hope there is help for it to stay strong and improve.

The women of Hickson United Church -  Hickson


I have been reflecting on how lost everyone in Ontario would be if we eliminated the social safety net..not just the poor. We must band together so every Ontarion can access the services we need.

Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt - Mustard Seed, Toronto


Need help,  no-one is listening

Ophelia - Thorncliffe Toronto


The piece submitted basically represents homelessness, as many individuals with mental health problems cannot find their way, and end up ‘falling through the cracks’, within our systems…Therefore, the Ontario Government should be having conversations about building more affordable housing, increasing social assistance benefits, and finding ways to help our homeless navigate the government/heath system.

Suzanne Rivard, Debbie Ouimette - Northern Initiative for Social Action, Sudbury.


We decided to work on a three dimensional submission because poverty has many layers.  The items which are placed on this piece represent things in our lives that are being eroded away.  All of the items have been placed on a door mat because we sometimes feel like a door mat.

     There is a map of our community, Cambridge, which sees many people living in poverty.  Services such as dental, special devices, food for special diets, inadequate housing, have been concerns of ours for the last number of years……

Our lives have become an experience of hunting for 50% off.  Food, clothing, school supplies, personal items all have to be purchased at 50% off.  Services for those needing support in the field of Mental Health are very inadequate.  Affordable housing in our community is at a crisis stage.

    You may notice that our own Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank has a band aid across our sign.  We believe that Food Banks are only a band aid not a solution to hungry families.

     We believe that the government of Canada and the Province of Ontario need to:

  1. Seriously examine the cuts that date back to 1995
  2. Stop looking at statistics and look at the humanity of poverty
  3. Look at government spending at all levels.
  4. Make the elimination of poverty a priority

Fran Garvey, Mary-Ann West, John Short, Bev. Gillis, Paula Vallee  -Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, Cambridge


The many hearts – whole, wounded and broken – represent all Ontarians.  Every citizen deserves the government’s attention and respect.

 Governments are judged by how they treat the most disadvantaged.  Ontario should lead the country in offering the best to those who have the least.

Donna Manquada, Martha Bull - Toronto


Worked my whole life.  Hurt back at work, downhill from there.  House falling apart, no funds to help.  I didn’t do anything wrong!!!  I worked and paid taxes for over 40 years.  Started at 16 years old.  Ran several small business over life time.

Why won’t you help me?

Bryan McIntyre - Port Colborne


My picture represents the need for more wheeltrans for seniors.  A lot of seniors need this transportation and it needs to be affordable.

Maria Canhas - St Stephens Community House, Toronto


It represents the war on the poor and what was talked about in a Peter and Gordon song: A World Without Love.

Casey Tichborne - Toronto


Our contribution is a knitted square, with a colour from each of us.  It represents coming together, and the importance of having a social network and a place like ‘What’s Next’ where we can gather. The government should continue to fund drop-in centres and peer support services, and expand these services to make sure they are accessible to all who need them.

  Lorraine, Susan and Alex – What’s Next, Toronto  

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