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.
According to organizers at PROMPT, governments focus on the scenic and attractive aspects of rural communities in Muskoka, and continue to hide that poverty exists behind the spacious landscapes in cottage country. Campbell hopes this summit will be able to rally for things like transportation funding, easier access to health services, and raising social assistance rates to the real cost of living as experienced by poor people.
Participants at the upcoming summit are people who and lived and experience poverty. PROMPT is also inviting people from districts all around the area. The agenda for the summit is said to gather the evidence of rural poverty experiences, name solutions to the problems they face, and build on positive change.
Campbell says although PROMPT stands for “Poverty Reduction of Muskoka Planning Table” she hopes soon they will be able to remove “reduction”, and eventually get rid of poverty altogether.
For more information on the summit, click here.