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Dec 5 1946 Thursday, 9:45-10:00 [pm?]

Thank you Mr. Mintz. Again and again in my advertising and in my broadcasts on the air I have emphasized the fact that my chief reason for seeking election as an alderman is that I may be in an inside position to do all that one man can do to give the old people at the foot of John Street a home instead of a poor house. I have urged that instead of this great and wealthy and supposedly Christian city taking $24.50 out of the monthly cheque of the Old Age Pensioners and leaving them only $3.50 for themselves; we should split the cheque fifty-fifty--the city taking $14.00 for their board and lodging, and dividing the other $14.00 into two parts, $7.00 of it to be used to buy clothes for them and the other $7.00 placed in one of a row of boxes like post-office boxes, to be paid out to them as they require it; with perhaps a little kindly supervision in the case of any who may not always use good sense and sobriety in spending their money.

Yesterday afternoon in discussing the matter with the ladies I suggested that it seemed to me both desirable and practical that the place be conducted more like a home and less like the Market Street Hostel for transient vagrants of which Mr. Sirman was formerly the superintendent. In particular I suggested that instead of these poor old people being roused out of bed at seven o'clock for a half-past seven breakfast, to face an unnecessarily long and dreary day with little or nothing to occupy their time; that they be allowed to come down any time before 9 or even 10 o'clock, and make their own tea in an individual teapot, and make their own toast on an electric toaster--for tea and toast are the favourite and staple fare of many old people. At present they are given porridge, which many do not like, bread and butter, and they have their tea poured out of a jug with the milk already in it, although many prefer their tea without milk or cream.

Now I first came into this matter as a convener of a committee appointed by the Hamilton Council of Churches "to investigate the financial arrangements and other matter pertaining to the welfare of the Old Age Pensioners in the Home for the Aged and Infirm and report to the Council of Churches."

From the first I was received with open hostility by the Chairman of the Committee Alderman Hannah, supported by Alderman Dillon and by the Superintendent of the so-called Home--Mr. Sirman.

At the first meeting I presented a request for certain definite information which my committee had drawn up and presented through me. This information was never given to me; it was sent to the President of the Council of Churches, Rev. Canon Samuel, so timed that it would not be forwarded to me in time for the meeting. In a report of this meeting, the Toronto Star described the conduct of Chairman Hannah in this connection as 'giving me the run around.'

At this second meeting, held on November the seventh, Chairman Hannah would have forced me to discuss the reply to my Committee's request for information, without my even having a chance to read it over, if Ald. Stewart had not come to my rescue and insisted on the matter being left over to the next meeting.

Although at the first meeting I had been received without question as the accredited representative of the Hamilton Council of Churches; at the second meeting Ald. Jenning, who had not been present at the first, said to me, "I don't know you from a load of hay, in fact the top of your head looks much like hay to me." Very courteous treatment, wasn't it? To be accorded to a representative of the Council of Churches.

Alderman Hannah persisted in 'giving me the run around' and directed a second communication to Rev. Canon Samuel. In this he stated that while the sum of $3.50 a month allowed Old Age Pensioners out of their monthly cheque for $28.00 "is admittedly not large, it has been found quite sufficient to meet every one of the advisable requests they make."

In the Committee meeting Alderman Dillon and Controller Frame had supported this position.

Now any person with any sympathetic interest in old people knows that their appetites are usually not good, and that if they do not happen to fancy the standardized fare provided by this institution, it is quite a help to eke it out by various little things they can buy,--but $3.50 a month, less than 12 cents a day, does not go very far in doing this.

At the third meeting after I had left, Alderman Douglas approached the Committee with a request that the amount be raised from $3.50 to $5.00. Alderman Stewart attempted to move that this suggestion be approved, but his slight form was trampled underfoot by Controller Frame and Alderman Dillon, who had had their ears to the ground and realized that their previously niggardly treatment of the poor old people did not meet with popular approval.

Alderman Anderson and Alderman Stewart have both supported me well in the effort to get better treatment for these poor old people, and I hope they will both be in the council next year to give their support to the improvement of conditions at the foot of John Street.

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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
Please direct questions and comments to Mary Anderson, Ph.D.

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