Mayor Christa Lowry advocates for food security, poverty solutions at Queen’s Park

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Mississippi Mills Mayor Christa Lowry travelled to Queen’s Park last week at the invitation of the Honourable Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS).

The March 4 meeting served as a follow-up to the question Mayor Lowry posed to Minister Parsa during the Minister’s Forum at the ROMA Conference in January, regarding food security and the rising number of families accessing food banks. Mayor Lowry’s question referenced the fact that Ontario food banks were visited nearly six million times last year, an increase of 36 per cent over the previous year and 101 per cent over pre-pandemic levels with rural populations disproportionately impacted. She asked what the Ministry would do to ensure vulnerable rural Ontarians can afford to feed themselves and their families.

“The current struggle of working families to make ends meet is a problem that has been decades in the making,” said Lowry. “The housing and homelessness crisis, coupled with sharp increases to cost of living, has trapped low-income earners, and some professionals alike, in a paycheque-to-paycheque scenario where one unexpected event can bring significant financial hardship.”

A number of actions were discussed with Parsa, with Lowry proposing two long-term solutions. The first is the establishment of a provincial housing accelerator fund focused on tax/grant incentives for developers to jumpstart construction of affordable, purpose-built rental housing. This is a recommendation from Food Banks Canada’s 2023 Poverty Report. The other suggestion involved additional training and skills development for women, such as the Investing in Women’s Futures Program and the Women’s Economic Security Program.

“We discussed the power of these life-enhancing programs offered to women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. There is little or no access for women in Eastern Ontario, however,” said Mayor Lowry. “Mississippi Mills has offered to work with MCCSS in any way we can, and offered to pilot virtual access to see how widely these programs can be made available to women from all corners of the province.”

The visit also provided Lowry the opportunity to liaise with local Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP John Jordan. Items discussed included the Abattoir Feasibility Study underway in Mississippi Mills, as well as the Affordable Housing project with Carebridge Community Support at 34 Victoria Street in Almonte.

Jordan facilitated an impromptu meeting between Mayor Lowry and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Parliamentary Assistant Matthew Rae regarding modular housing demonstration sites for attainable housing. This follows up on Lowry’s recent Notice of Motion passed by Mississippi Mills council at the March 5 meeting, to explore the viability of modular housing as an option to increase attainable housing stock.

“I thank MPP Jordan for being generous with his time and providing support in the meeting with Minister Parsa,” said Lowry. “And thank you to Minister Parsa and Parliamentary Assistant Rae for their time and interest in matters affecting families in Mississippi Mills.”

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