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Candidates hear directly from people living in poverty during Hope House breakfast (3 photos)

Eating together as a community is a critically important part of Hope House’s mission, said ongoing support manager Mary Crome.

Mike Schreiner and his Green Party campaign staff recognized that Lakeside Hope House was short on servers during Wednesday’s campaign community breakfast event and began slinging trays of eggs and pancakes to the 150 people in attendance, including to the other candidates who remained seated.

Schreiner’s staff volunteers regularly, said Hope House ongoing support manager Mary Crome.

“They realized our team was a little bit overwhelmed in getting the trays out, so they jumped up and grabbed trays,” said Crome. “They know what to do.”

Aggie Mlynarz for the NDP, Liberal Sly Castaldi, Paul Taylor of the None of the Above Party and Juanita Burnett of the Communist Party also attended the event.

Ray Ferraro of the Ontario PC party, Mike Riehl of the Libertarian Party and Ontario Party candidate Thomas Mooney were not in attendance.

Residents of Ontario go to the polls on June 7 to elect a new provincial government.

Each candidate was seated at a different table to break bread with people who live in poverty, the community which Hope House serves.

Eating together as a community is a critically important part of Hope House’s mission, said Crome.

Wednesday’s event was a rare chance for that segment of the population to have access to the candidates — one of which will become member of provincial parliament for Guelph and will be voting on policies that affect them directly.

“What this was about today was removing any barriers to people being able to vote, because it’s important that everyone has that. Your vote is your voice and your voice matters,” said Crome.

A member of the community that Hope House supports recently asked Crome about the upcoming election and where the local candidates stand on the issues. That sparked the non-profit agency to invite the candidates to one of the community breakfast events it holds every Wednesday.

“We do breakfast anyway, let’s invite them to eat breakfast with us,” said Crome. “I think it’s really a beautiful tale of how the community comes together and can meet the needs of the community.”

The questions posed to local candidates at the event differed from those at some recent debates. Instead of being asked about who should pay what tax or how to fix the price of electricity, members of the Hope House community asked about how candidates would strengthen the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and about the Liberal government’s cancelling of sheltered workshops, which offered greater employment opportunities and skills training for people with intellectual disabilities.


in another exchange, candidates were asked to justify why an MPP makes $116,500 per year, while someone receiving ODSP stand to make a fraction of that.

Because many of the people who use the services at Hope House do not have formal street addresses, Crome said the agency will sign off on an official Elections Ontario form to prove they live in Guelph.

“When you vote you need some form of ID that says you live in Guelph,” said Crome. “Somebody who lives on the street doesn’t necessarily have that, so they can come and see us and we have a form that will work for that.”


Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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