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Social Justice and Advocacy

The Social Justice and Advocacy Consultant, with the Social Justice and Advocacy Committee, coordinates and advances the public witness of our Diocese on issues of social and ecological justice. We seek to be faithful to God’s call to compassion and justice, live out our baptismal vows, and engage faithfully with the world.

To learn more or get involved, contact Elin Goulden, Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant, at egoulden@toronto.anglican.ca or 416-363-6021 (1-800-668-8932), ext. 240.

What’s new

Federal Election Resources

The 44th general federal election has been called for Monday, September 20, 2021.

Elections give us an opportunity not only to exercise our democratic rights, but to consider what makes for a society of justice and dignity in which all can flourish. Scripture calls us to seek the welfare of the communities in which God has placed us (Jeremiah 29:7) and to speak out and judge righteously on behalf of those in need (Proverbs 31:8-9).  Likewise, our baptismal covenant calls us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” to “respect the dignity of every human being,” and to “strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation.” These are values which should inform all our actions, including our electoral choices.

Please take the time to inform yourself about the issues and the positions of the candidates in your riding.  Use this election period as an opportunity to have conversations with friends and family about the common good. Perhaps your church can host an all-candidates’ meeting, or educate members on how to make sure they are on the voters’ list. Pray for wisdom and discernment for voters and for those who will be elected.  Finally, get out and vote!

For all information about how, where, and when to vote, visit Elections Canada.

Read a letter from national Anglican and Lutheran church leaders regarding the election.

The following non-partisan resources may be helpful in providing background information and posing questions for candidates on justice issues in the upcoming election:

Citizens For Public Justice‘s “Creating a Just Canada: 2021 Election Bulletin” includes background information and questions for candidates on issues including poverty and inequality;  Indigenous rights and reconciliation; refugees and migrant workers; and action on climate change and other environmental concerns.

The Vote Housing campaign calls on all parties to commit to ending and preventing homelessness and to the progressive realization of the right to housing in Canada.  Learn more here.

The Income Security Advocacy Centre‘s “Tools You Can Use” includes a participation guide  and four factsheets on poverty issues in the federal election: worker’s rights, poverty and disability, child poverty, and recovery benefits.

KAIROS ‘s 2021 Federal Election Resource offers background information and questions for candidates on ecological justice, Indigenous rights, gender justice, migrant justice, and vaccine equity.

For the Love of Creation’s Faith-in-Action campaign calls on the federal government to increase Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction targets and invest in a just transition to a low-carbon economy; implement the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples; and commit to climate change adaptation and mitigation measures for the Global South.  You can read more here.

The 2021 Federal Election Guide from the Canadian Council of Churches invites us to prayer and reflection as we approach the election, with attention to issues of reconciliation, racism, poverty, climate, peace and disarmament, sexual exploitation, refugees, palliative care, vaccine access, religious freedom, and public healthcare.

Be informed! Ask questions! And make sure to vote!

 

Federal Advocacy - Calling for a Guaranteed Basic Income in Canada

Calls are growing for a guaranteed basic income in Canada, supported by the Bishops of the Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Canada, the United Church of Canada, and many others.  The federal Liberal, New Democratic, and Green parties have all adopted some form of Basic Income in their platforms.

We have prepared a toolkit of resources to help you learn more about and advocate for Basic Income:

Municipal Advocacy - Supporting Residents of Homeless Encampments

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis of homelessness. People who are unhoused are already at higher risk due to underlying health conditions, while living on the streets or in crowded shelters makes it difficult to comply with physical distancing and hygiene guidelines. In addition, new provincial legislation (Bill 184) gives landlords more power to evict tenants for falling behind on their rent, putting even more people at risk of homelessness during the pandemic.

Many homeless people in our Diocese are currently living in encampments rather than risk exposure to COVID-19 in congregate settings. In Toronto and other municipalities, encampment residents face forcible displacement by authorities, despite the prevalence of COVID-19 in shelters and other factors which make homeless shelters an inadequate solution to their situation.

Read our most recent letter to the City of Toronto regarding encampment clearings here. We have also endorsed the Toronto Drop-In Network letter “A Path Forward,” calling for a human-rights-based approach to housing and homelessness.
You can use either or both of these as a template for sending a message to Mayor Tory and your own city councillor.

Additional information and resources can be found in this toolkit from the Encampment Support Network.

 

Municipal Advocacy - Help shape Toronto's Inclusionary Zoning Policy

Toronto is one of the most unaffordable housing markets in North America, and other parts of our Diocese are not far behind. For decades, the cost of housing has increased, far outstripping the rise in income over that time, while the construction of affordable housing has lagged behind.

In September 2021, Toronto City Council will vote on the adoption of an inclusionary zoning policy. This is potentially one of the best means of addressing the city’s affordable housing crisis.  However, Toronto’s current draft policy calls for very low percentages of new developments (3-5% for rentals and 5-10% for condos) to be set aside as affordable, and affordability is only guaranteed for 25 years. Several organizations, including tenant-led ACORN Toronto, Progress Toronto, Social Planning Toronto and the Parkdale People’s Economy, are calling for a more robust policy of 20-30% of all new developments and perpetual affordability.

New York, London and Montreal are all examples of major cities with 25-50% inclusionary zoning policies. Even the City’s own studies show that such a measure could be adopted while still preserving a healthy profit margin for developers.

Not only is this important for Toronto, but a robust inclusionary zoning policy in Toronto will help set a precedent for policies in surrounding municipalities.

You can learn more and sign a template letter to the Mayor and your City Councillor here.

Provincial Advocacy - Paid Sick Days Now!

In response to overwhelming calls for paid sick days in Ontario, the provincial government has recently instituted three paid sick days for all Ontario workers as a temporary measure.

While this is welcome, it does not go far enough to protect Ontario’s workers. Workers may need to be off work for more than three days, especially if exposed to or recovering from COVID-19. The measure is temporary and is poorly coordinated with the federal benefit, requiring workers to lose income between the end of the provincial benefit and applying for the federal one.

Organizations like Ontario’s Science Advisory Table and the Decent Work and Health Network continue to call for a minimum of ten paid sick days during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) has created a template letter to be sent to the Premier and other provincial party leaders, calling for at least 10 days of paid sick leave to be made permanently available to Ontario workers. You can read and sign it here.

Fewer than half of Canadian workers have paid sick leave through their employers, but this figure is much lower for low-wage workers, many of whom work in workplaces designated essential, including retail, warehousing and distribution, and personal care. These workers are also more likely to be women and/or members of racialized communities.

Read the Decent Work and Health Network’s report on the gap in paid sick leave in Canada

Anglican Outreach Support Network

Angie Hocking at Church of the Redeemer has set up a weekly Zoom conference call for those involved in front-line outreach programs in our Diocese.  To be added to the mailing list for this weekly call and other ways to connect with outreach coordinators in our Diocese at this time, please contact Elin Goulden.

Many parishes have contacted the Diocesan Office for guidance on continuing outreach programs during COVID-19.  Please see the section under Outreach in the Red Stage Guidelines as well as the Guidelines on Indoor Food Services issued on November 4, 2020. *Note that the Outreach Guidelines are unchanged from the Red to the Amber Stage of the Diocesan Re-opening protocol.*  We urge all parishes to follow Public Health protocols for screening, hygiene, PPE and distancing when offering outreach services.

What we do

We facilitate communications between the diocesan and area bishops and various levels of government. We also educate, equip and support parishes and individual Anglicans in advocacy on social and ecological justice.

Priorities

Our ongoing social justice work is focused on three priority areas:

  1. poverty reduction
  2. affordable housing and homelessness
  3. environmental issues

Other areas of concern, where we support the work of other church ministries, include:

Some of our key activities include: