Too much of Muskoka’s economy is seasonal. That’s according to Susan Campbell, Co-Chair of PROMPT (Poverty Reduction of Muskoka Planning Table) who says local poverty is hidden amongst the misleading signs of tourism and vacation lifestyles.

PROMPT is holding a Rural Poverty Summit at Camp Crossroads in Torrance on Lake Muskoka on May 1st and 2nd. Campbell says this summit is meant to give voices to people who experience poverty in the area, and she hopes the government and local politicians will finally listen to major concerns.

According to Campbell, seasonal workers who would normally qualify for employment insurance when off-season comes, now have to rely on Ontario Works. She also says housing statistics do not reflect the true cost of rural rental rates, and things like transportation costs and delivery charges of electricity are higher for those in rural communities. On top of that, Campbell says social isolation can have lasting negative effects on a person’s life.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that aims to add and strengthen work requirements for public assistance and other welfare programs.

The order, signed in private, promotes “common-sense reforms” that policy adviser Andrew Bremberg said would reduce dependence on government programs.

Trump has long accused beneficiaries of abusing government assistance programs and has claimed many who have no intention of working make more in benefits than those with jobs.

70 per cent of people living in poverty are employed — sometimes referred to as the working poor – Lloyd Longfield

About 12 per cent of Canadian households in 2014 were characterized as experiencing food insecurity – Brady Deaton

Food insecurity has three pillars: food availability, economic access and food literacy – Randalin Ellery

People on social assistance need to spend about 30 per cent of their money on food to be healthy, said Ellery, but an average of 90 per cent of their money goes toward housing.

One year ago, The Guardian took the unprecedented step of devoting an entire print edition to the issue of poverty with every section telling the stories of Islanders in need and the people who help them.

The purpose was to illustrate just how prevalent the problem is and to highlight that many Islanders face great hardship.

The issue seemed to strike a chord, generating considerable discussion.

“There was a lot of praise in the province for that special edition in The Guardian,’’ notes well-known social advocate Mary Boyd.

Now Boyd hopes the government implements a poverty reduction strategy that helps many Islanders move to the healthier side of the poverty line.

Although poverty can be invisible in the rural areas of Waterloo Region, almost 5,000 people living in the four townships are struggling to make ends meet, a forum on rural poverty heard Thursday.

That number includes about 2,255 children living in poverty, said Kristine Allison from the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries. “Just think how many schools that would fill,” she said.

While on the surface the townships appear to be fairly affluent communities, with median incomes well above the Canadian average, “we still do have people living at or below the poverty line. They’re people like us, our neighbours.”

Poverty is hidden in rural areas, said Joe Nowak, the mayor of Wellesley Township, where a surprising 14.4 per cent of residents are living below the poverty line.

Mike Delfre has set a place for himself and is hungry to get going with his new job.

The former executive director of Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is now director of operations of United Way Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District’s food security division.

He began work March 5 after nearly eight years at CBHC.

Delfre is responsible for establishing and operating a food security resource centre in the city. Features are to include a food warehouse, commercial kitchen, community garden and outreach and education programs.

For almost three decades, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) has been fighting against neoliberal austerity, especially that aspect of it that has involved systematically degrading systems of income support. The underlying motive in this attack has been to render benefit provision as inadequate and precarious as possible so as to create the desperation that can drive people into the expanding low wage sector.