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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,


A place of sanctuary – where one is safe, able to be oneself, can put down roots and anchor oneself in the surrounding community. Having a place to call home is so fundamental to human dignity and well-being that housing has been identified as a human right, not only in international human rights law, but in Canadian law – the National Housing Strategy Act of 2019.

But for the growing number of tenants in Canada, realizing that right to housing is getting progressively more difficult. Renters make up more than 30% of Ontario’s population, and over half of the population of Toronto. Meanwhile, rental costs are increasing far faster than inflation, with a greater number of tenants paying an ever-increasing portion of their incomes on housing costs. Even tenants in rent-controlled units face pressures such as back-to-back above-guideline increases, reduced habitability, harassment, or being displaced by redevelopment.

The effects can be seen all around our Diocese – more and more people accessing food banks, because the high cost of rent leaves little left over; more and more people struggling to hang on to the housing they have; more and more people being pushed into homelessness. While the provincial and federal governments have both introduced welcome policies to increase housing supply, it will take a long time to make up the deficit that has been created over the past 30 years. We are losing affordable housing units faster than they are being built.

Over the years, it has been our practice in this Diocese to offer a motion prepared by the Social Justice & Advocacy Committee for parishes to consider at their annual vestry meetings. This year’s motion focuses on protecting and advancing the right to housing by calling on all levels of government to adopt policies that would reduce the barriers tenants face. You can find the motion and backgrounder, as well as additional print and video materials, at

You may or may not reach consensus with the specific policies advocated in the proposed motion – we have a diversity of views and perspectives in our Diocese, which is to be expected – but each parish is free to present the motion or not, or to make amendments to the wording as they see fit. (If your parish does change the motion, please send the amended version to Elin Goulden, our Social Justice & Advocacy consultant, so we have an accurate record of what was passed.)

Our social justice vestry motions inform and support the advocacy we do as a Diocese with various levels of government. But more than this, the aim of putting these motions before parishes is to get Anglicans to think and talk about the ways in which laws and policies in our society affect people’s ability to meet their basic needs, and to consider how our baptismal covenant calls us to work for positive change in the world.

Proverbs 31:9 calls us to “speak out, judge righteously, [and] defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I invite Anglicans across our Diocese to take this opportunity to learn, discern and speak up so that all members of our communities realize their right to adequate and affordable housing – a place to call home.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto