The Sudbury-based Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers has launched a province-wide campaign to bring an end to the province’s lifetime ban for welfare fraud and press for reforms to the social assistance system. Called Justice with Dignity, the campaign was organized in response to the death of Kimberly Rogers in Sudbury last year. White roses have been chosen as symbols of the campaign.
Ms. Rogers was a pregnant college graduate whose social assistance benefits were cut off and who was sentenced to house arrest after being convicted of welfare fraud. The fraud charge was based on the fact that she collected social assistance while receiving an Ontario Student Loan. The loan was not enough to live on.
In May 2001, Ms. Rogers launched a Charter challenge to the automatic cancellation of welfare benefits after a conviction for welfare fraud. However, that August, before the Court had an opportunity to rule on her case, she and her unborn child died in her home. A coroner’s inquest into Ms. Rogers’ death began on October 15, 2002. ISAC is representing the Ontario Social Safety NetWork, the legal clinic Steering Committee on Social Assistance, and the Sudbury Social Planning Council at the inquest.
On May 14, 2002, community groups in Sudbury, Ottawa, Toronto, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie held events to commemorate Kimberly Rogers and the one year anniversary of her courageous Charter challenge. The Committee and ISAC also held concurrent vigils in August to remember Ms. Rogers’ death. In addition to mourning her death, the vigils highlighted the right of all people to an education and to adequate financial assistance when in need.
On November 20, 2002, the Committee, the Ontario Common Front – Sudbury, and the Ottawa-based Somerset West Action Network (SWAN) co-sponsored a silent vigil in front of the Sudbury Court House where the inquest is being held. There was also a spirited rally in front of the provincial government building. Over sixty anti-poverty activists participated in the vigil and rally, including a large group that came from Ottawa with the assistance of SWAN.
If you would like to help with the campaign, please contact Laurie McGauley from the Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers at (705) 674-0282 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Dana Milne at ISAC (email@example.com).
Brochures and Buttons are available from the Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers.
Learn more about the Justice with Dignity campaign here: http://dawn.thot.net/Kimberly_Rogers/