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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

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 July 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.

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. You can use this as a template for sending a message to your own city councillor.

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

 

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

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 Basic Income in their platforms.

You are invited to contact your MP to express your support for a guaranteed Basic Income in Canada.

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

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 asking whether and how to continue outreach programs during COVID-19.  For guidance, please see the section under Outreach in the Red Stage Guidelines that were provided June 30, 2020, as well as the Guidelines on Indoor Food Services issued on November 4, 2020.   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: