2009 was an exciting year for CPJ. We launched Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty-free Canada, which has already garnered thousands of supporters. We established and enhanced important partnerships through our participation in major events like the KAIROS National Gathering and the BIEN Canada Conference. We engaged CPJ members in at least 70 meetings and events across the country. We appeared before two parliamentary standing committees, consulted with over 50 organizations on our poverty eradication work (including churches, unions, human rights groups, and professional associations), and sounded the call for public justice in venues large and small.
The beginning of a new year brings many questions. The reality for many Canadians – and in particular the poorest among us – is marked by continued economic uncertainty. Parliament has been prorogued, and with it, the opportunity for democratic debate. Still, at CPJ we are energized by the potential of what lies ahead, spurred on by the focus of a new strategic plan, and strengthened by the support of longstanding and new members alike.
As a Christian organization, we are guided by our faith. God has called us, redeemed us, and transformed us to be agents of change. “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Ephesians 2:10). We will therefore offer a faithful response to God’s call for love, justice and stewardship.
In the pursuit of public justice, CPJ has historically taken a multifaceted approach, whether we have been addressing the development of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, local recycling initiatives, or Canada’s refugee policy. As we approach our 50th anniversary, we will make a deliberate effort to renew this holistic approach – recognizing that it is no accident that the words ecumenical, economic, and ecological all come from the same Greek source, oikos, meaning home. We will endeavour to include social, economic and environmental considerations in all of our analysis, public education and advocacy as we work to create a society, a home, that offers warmth, welcome, and peace to all.
Building on our traditional strengths, we will broaden our reach and scope as an organization. Our socio-economic work, as expressed through the Dignity for All campaign and interventions on a Guaranteed Livable Income, will continue to be refined. Analysis under the theme of diversity will focus on immigration reform, with particular attention on the situation of temporary foreign workers. In light of the growing range of environmental threats, we will amplify efforts to ensure that care for God’s creation is duly considered in national policy making.
Over the last year, we have been fortunate to have had four young and dynamic interns join our staff. They have each brought unique set of knowledge and skills with education in law, theology, social work, and public policy; what they have had in common is tremendous enthusiasm and drive for justice. Youth engagement – as CPJ volunteers, interns, staff, board members, and active citizens and supporters – will be an important element of our outreach as we look to the future.
The Dignity for All campaign is the primary vehicle through which we will advance our efforts to build public awareness and engagement on the critical issue of poverty in Canada. We will continue to build connections with churches, provincial anti-poverty networks, and individuals at the grassroots. In doing so, we will spur on the momentum that has been generated in the provinces to create a groundswell demanding federal action on poverty. We will also, of course, continue our research and analysis so that we can develop clear, articulate and practical policy recommendations.
Our proximity to Parliament Hill has enabled the development of many key relationships with Members of Parliament, Senators, and public servants. In 2009 alone we intervened with over 45 parliamentarians. Through continued dialogue we influenced outcomes on federal policies and practices concerning poverty, immigration and the environment. Taking advance of our strategic home in the national capital, we will continue to nurture these relationships and to build the collaborative dialogue necessary to achieve social change.
In particular, we will:
- Encourage the adoption of recommendations presented by the Senate sub-committee on Cities in their December 2009 report In from the Margins: A Call to Action to End Poverty in Canada, advancing, in particular, their basic principle “that programmes dealing with poverty and homelessness [be] designed to lift Canadians out of poverty.”
- Call for the completion of the Parliamentary Committee (HUMA) study on the federal role in reducing poverty, and urge concrete action to follow the November 24 unanimous resolution that the Government of Canada develop an immediate plan to eliminate poverty in Canada for all.
- Continue to research and advocate for a Guaranteed Livable Income for Canadians.
- Monitor proposed immigration reform, especially as it relates to the Temporary Foreign Workers program, with an eye to promoting better programs and protection for newcomers to Canada.
- Develop a sustainability lens based on the principles of public justice, and apply this lens in our public policy analysis.
- Create worship and animation resources that enable CPJ supporters to more fully participate in national policy conversations.
In sum, we will offer a Christian voice in the dialogue on Canadian public policy, providing a moral compass in the pursuit of a just and sustainable existence for all of God’s creation.