Common Front for Social Justice

Press Release
For immediate publication

Moncton - "Justice before Charity is the right theme for these troubled time" says Linda McCaustlin, co-chair of the Common Front for Social Justice. Close to 200 individuals, many of the living in poverty, as well as people from community organizations, activists from social and labour groups and civil servants, coming from all regions of the province will gather this weekend in Moncton to attend the 2 nd Summit on Poverty which will be held at the Central United Church, 150 Queen Street in Moncton on Frida, October 17th and Saturday, October18th 2008.

The participants will discuss the lack of government involvement with regards to social issues, the increasing delivery of social services by the community sector and the fact that the social safety net is getting thinner as times goes on.

At noon on Friday, October 17th,the opening ceremony will include words of welcome by Moncton mayor George Leblanc. This activity will take place in the foyer of Moncton City Hall. A lunch will be provided to the participants. Afterwards, they will move to Central United Church, 150 Queen Street, Moncton. Here, at 1:30 pm, they will hear Judy Rebick , chair of the CAW Sam Gindin Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is a well-known social activist, journalist and writerand will address the theme of the Summit "Justice before Charity".

"There are presently thousands of individuals and families living in poverty. We have put in place some emergency services: food banks, community services, etc. These help them but they are short-term solutions and don’t address the root causes of poverty. Much of the help provided depends on the good will of volunteers. What we need is a living wage for workers and government programs and services that are accessible to people who are unable to cover their basic needs. What we want is Justice" continues Ms. McCaustlin.

October 17th is also the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. At 3:15 p.m., in a show of solidarity with the million of people around the world living in poverty, participants will gather around the ATD Fourth World monument in Moncton's Riverfront Park (beside the Rogers’ building). From that site, they will march to Central United Church, 150 Queen Street.

"People living in poverty are now facing three major crises: the high cost of energy, the lack of food and inadequate housing. At 7 p.m. on Friday, we have brought together a panel of three experts who will help the participants to understand why we have these situation. But more importantly, they will talk about solutions" says Ms. McCaustlin. To speak on the energy crisis, we will have Kurt Peacock from the Harold Crabtree Foundation Visiting Scholar in New Brunswick Public Policy at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John (UNBSJ). Kurt Peacock, is a well-known Saint John writer, historian and civic activist, who has spent years advocating against energy policies that are harmful to low-income New Brunswickers. To address the food crisis, we will have Auréa Cormier. She holds a Doctor’s degree from Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y,, where she specialized in nutrition and food technology. Presently, she is Emeritus Professor at Université de Moncton, where she spent 28 years as professor and researcher. For the housing crisis, we will have Claude Snow a community worker and a social worker in private practice. He holds professional degrees in social work, in education and in philosophy. He has been working in areas related to social work for over 30 years and has also has worked in the areas of mental health.

"More and more provincial governments are realizing the extent and the impact of poverty on social well-being. People living in poverty, community organizations and lobby groups like our have been asking for years that governments put in place Poverty Reduction Strategies in order to bring more Justice instead of relying on the charity of citizens" continues Ms. McCaustlin.

Hon. Mary Schryer, Minister of Social Development, will deliver a speech on Saturday morning, explaining the actions which the New Brunswick government is taking to address this issue of poverty.

"In the last 15 to 20 years, we have moved away from the notion of Public Good, a notion of social solidarity between all citizens that translated into social programs and services for all, toward the notion of Private Good where citizens are left to fight for themselves and where the individual is more important than the collective. This social disengagement has increased the plight of people living in poverty" says Ms. McCaustlin. To better understand this important shift in our society and its impacts on all citizens we will have, on Saturday morning, an interactive workshop facilitated by Guy Fortier, a Montreal educator with extensive experience in popular education.

"Our society is at a crossroad. The notion that economic growth would eliminate poverty has not proven to be true. Ask the hundred of thousands of children in poverty in Canada. Because of private greed and less regulations in the marketplace, we are right now putting billions of tax dollars to help banks and investing institutions instead of in programs to fight poverty. Some governments are even ‘nationalizing’ banks. We need to go back to what we are as a society back to the notion of Public Good and the notion that we are all human beings, living on Planet Earth, with the same rights and privileges as everyone." concludes Ms. McCaustlin.

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For more information, contact:

Linda McCaustlin, co-chair 855-7086
Jean-Claude Basque 862-9182