Social Justice and Advocacy

The Social Justice and Advocacy Consultant, together 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.

Register for our October 24 Outreach & Advocacy Conference 

What’s New: Advocacy Campaigns

Municipal: Support and Solidarity with People Experiencing Homelessness

The current 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 a crowded shelter 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 just as cold weather is approaching.

Peel Region: Tell Regional Council to act swiftly to prevent evictions!

Advocates from the Peel Poverty Reduction Committee have written to Peel Regional Council urging them to take action to prevent a wave of evictions flowing from new legislation.  If you live in Peel, please contact your Regional Councillor and urge them to act swiftly on this matter.  A template letter has been prepared for you.

Toronto: Support shelter residents and call for permanent housing

The City of Toronto has established a number of interim shelters to give unhoused Torontonians a safe place to live during the current pandemic. Some tensions have arisen in neighbourhoods surrounding these shelters, notably in the Yonge-Eglinton area.  Anglicans from neighbouring parishes and those working closely with the shelter residents have written a letter to Mayor Tory and Councillor Josh Matlow, expressing support for the residents of the interim shelters, willingness to work together to reduce tensions in the community, and re-affirming the call for permanent housing for all.  To send your own message of support to the Mayor and Councillor, please e-mail them at mayor_tory@toronto.ca and councillor_matlow@toronto.ca.

Several churches and front-line ministries serving vulnerable people in downtown Toronto, including parishes and ministries of our Diocese, have written an open letter urging the City of Toronto to move more swiftly in mobilizing housing and sanitary facilities for homeless people, testing within the shelter system, and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff.  Many faith leaders have signed in support, and a press conference was held May 6 to call attention to these urgent needs.

Downtown Churches Pandemic Letter, May 6, 2020

Early in the pandemic shutdown, our Bishops called on the City of Toronto to open up unused hotel rooms and other vacant residential units for those experiencing homelessness.  While some units have been made available since then, many more people continue to experience homelessness, either within the shelter system or taking shelter outdoors.

Bishops’ letter to the Mayor on COVID-19 and Homelessness, March 31, 2020

We invite you to join our Bishops and our front-line ministries in urging the Mayor and your City Councillor to continue to provide housing, sanitary facilities, testing and PPE in this situation of acute need.

Provincial: Standing up for Tenants’ Rights

Bill 184, the “Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, 2020”, was passed in the Legislature and received Royal Assent on July 21, 2020.  Despite its name, this new legislation seriously undermines tenants’ rights when facing eviction for rental arrears, including arrears incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many tenants have experienced lost income.

On June 25, 2020, the Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant presented to the Standing Committee on Social Policy on Bill 184, outlining our concerns about the impact of the new legislation on low-income and vulnerable tenants. Read our submission here.

Although the bill has now passed, you can still express your concerns about it to your MPP.  Email addresses for MPPs, including provincial cabinet ministers, can be found here.

If you are a tenant, or work with tenants who have fallen behind on rent since March 17, 2020, please contact a tenants’ advocacy organization to be aware of your rights and obligations in light of this new information.  Here are some that may be able to help:

Protecting Social Assistance Recipients

While with recent job loss are eligible for the CERB, Ontarians relying on social assistance continue to try to survive on income levels far below the poverty line. Over 130 organizations across Ontario have joined the Income Security Advocacy Centre in calling for meaningful income security for the poorest Ontarians during this pandemic.  Read their open letter and consider writing your MPP in support.

Federal: Calling for a Guaranteed Basic Income

The federal government has established the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide temporary income support to people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.  While a welcome measure, there are some loopholes in eligibility which mean the CERB is not available to all people who have lost income as a result of the pandemic.

On Sunday, May 3, 2020, 43 Anglican and Lutheran bishops from across Canada (including all five bishops from our Diocese) signed a public letter to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, calling for a Guaranteed Basic Income in Canada.  You are invited to contact your MP in support of this initiative.

Here is a template letter you may wish to use in writing your MP.

For more information about Basic Income:

 

Anglican Outreach Support Network

Angie Hocking at Church of the Redeemer is organizing 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.

Policy and Best Practices for Diocesan Outreach during COVID-19 (PDF)

Many parishes have contacted the Diocesan Office asking whether and how to continue outreach programs during COVID-19.  This brief document outlines Diocesan policy on the matter as well as offering some best practices to protect the health and safety of staff, volunteers and guests.

List of Outreach Services Ongoing in the Diocese of Toronto during COVID-19 (PDF)

As of March 23, 2020, these are the outreach services still available in our Diocese during the COVID-19 restrictions. Most community meals are operating on a take-away basis.  We urge all parish staff and volunteers to take precautions as advised by local and provincial public health authorities.  Please note this list is subject to change without notice, if lack of resources and/or volunteers prompt a limitation or suspension of service.  

What We Do:

We facilitate communications between the Diocesan and Area Bishops and various levels of government, as well as educating, equipping and supporting Diocesan parishes and individual Anglicans in advocacy on social and ecological justice.

Our work is focused on three priority areas:

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

Some of our key activities include:

 

To learn more: Contact Elin Goulden, Social Justice & Advocacy Consultant, at egoulden@toronto.anglican.ca or by phone at 416-363-6021 (1-800-668-8932), extension 240.