Please don’t tune out this election.
It may be tempting to feel jaded and disengaged, but elections are when we can hold governments to account and can demand that elected officials do their jobs. These policies, and the budgets that flow from them, have enormous impact on the delay lives of people in our communities, particularly the most vulnerable people.
There are four election issues of primary importance to Bruce House clients: housing, food, ODSP rates, and funding for the HIV/AIDS sector.
Ask your candidates how their will address these issues. Hold the media to account when they neglect to ask. Question party platforms. Make it clear your vote will be influenced by knowing your candidate cares about the lives, health, and wellbeing of people living with HIV in your community.
People need safe and affordable places to live
Ottawa has 12,000 people waiting for subsidized housing, and many thousands more in need of affordable and appropriate homes. The situation is so dire that the City of Ottawa has been housing families with young children in hotels for many years. Many people living with illness or disability are forced to live in unsafe or inadequate homes because they cannot afford to move.
there is an urgent need for subsidised homes for individuals and families impacted by HIV, the wait list for a Bruce House apartment is now several years.
Ask your candidates how they will solve the crisis of affordable Housing.
People are hungry and need affordable food now
The Ottawa Food Bank has seen a 20% growth in demand in just one year, and is seeing the highest demand for help in their 38 years of service.
Inflation is at a near-record high 6.7%, with many food prices rising even faster. Supply-chain issues often mean that discount store
brands are unavailable. High rents, low wages, and legislated poverty through grossly inadequate social supports result in 44,000 people in Ottawa needing help with food every month.
Ask your candidates what they will do to help people living with HIV afford food today and tomorrow.
People living with a disability in Ontario who cannot work are expected to survive on $1200/month or less, well below levels considered “poverty”.
This is legislated poverty—government policies which limit social support levels, forcing people to live without sufficient income for food, shelter, and other basic needs. This forces individuals to access food banks and other support programs to survive.
Accessing multiple support programs every month takes times, energy, money for transportation, thus further burdening people living with disabilities.
Tell your candidates that people need an immediate increase to the Ontario Disability Support Program so that they can live with dignity.
Funding must be increased so that people living with HIV have the support they need to live healthy, engaged lives.
There are over 31,000 people living with HIV in Ontario, and that number grows by over 900 people each year.
Funding for HIV/AIDS service organizations has not significantly increased in over a decade.
Many people are aging with HIV, facing the challenges of aging we all face but with the additional complexities of a life-long incurable infection. Newly diagnosed people need help and support to be connected to medical care, stay in treatment, and maintain their health. HIV stigma is still very much with us; this and other challenges can make it very difficult for people living with HIV to find safe and compassionate places to receive help with basic needs, support, housing, and more.
Ask your candidates if they will immediately increase funding for HIV/AIDS services.