Welcome to the summer edition of Ola!, CPJ’s electronic newsletter. It’s been a full summer at the CPJ office, with much planning and preparation for the fall season. Read on to get the scoop on our summer activities and a sneak peek at some of the changes ahead!
DfA Letter to the Premiers
CPJ and the members of Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada sent a letter to Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter in advance of the Council of the Federation (the council of the premiers of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories) meetings July 25-27 in Halifax. In the letter, Dexter and the other premiers were urged to put poverty on the agenda by considering the impacts of recent federal decisions on the socio-economic well-being of the provinces, and to call for a national, multilateral poverty strategy. A similar open letter was sent to the provincial/territorial finance ministers in June by Dignity for All.
It seems our efforts made an impact: in the media release following the Council’s meeting, the premiers’ echoed our concerns regarding the impact federal changes to Old Age Security and Employment Insurance will have on provincial poverty reduction efforts.
Pre-Budget Brief to Finance Committee
As in previous summers, CPJ’s policy team has submitted a brief in mid-August to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. Every year, the committee asks Canadians to “contribute their views on the priorities that should be reflected in the [next] federal budget”. While the committee’s questions mainly focused on economic growth, productivity and GDP, CPJ’s response made the case that economic growth at all costs does not equal well-being. Budget choices are not just economic and political, but also moral. Every budget proposal must consider the how the poor and the vulnerable, as well the environment, are impacted.
With this in mind, CPJ highlighted the significant losses in jobs, education, and social programs incurred by tax cuts over recent years, the setback for seniors presented by the new eligibility age for OAS/GIS, and the problem of growing income inequality, among other concerns.
CPJ’s specific recommendations include:
- Repealing some tax cuts including those to the GST and corporate tax rates.
- Phasing out over $1 billion annually in subsidies and special tax breaks to companies producing oil, gas, and coal.
- Reversing the decision to increase the eligibility age for OAS/GIS to help keep vulnerable seniors out of poverty.
See the complete submission on CPJ’s website.
New Faces Ahead
There will be several new faces at CPJ, starting September 2012.
Karri Munn-Venn, CPJ’s Socio-Economic Policy Analyst, is returning to part-time work after her maternity leave. (We’re hoping baby Naomi won’t miss Karri too much, but we’ll be glad to see her!) Every September a new Public Justice Intern begins at CPJ, and this year we welcome Brad Wassink – coming to CPJ from a teaching stint in Korea! Until Christmas we’ll also enjoy having the skills of BC’s Nate Wilson on the team. Nate is an intern from the Laurentian Leadership Centre. And last but not least, CPJ’s new Communications Coordinator, Sarah Shepherd, is moving from a job with the United Church in Toronto to take up new challenges here. We welcome them all with open hearts and arms – and look forward to introducing our new colleagues to you in the months ahead.
This August CPJ staff bid farewell to policy intern, Melodi Alopaeus. Melodi has thoroughly enjoyed her time at CPJ and is grateful for all of the insight and experience she has gained in the field of public policy. Melodi will miss her CPJ family, but takes heart in the fact that she lives only six minutes away from the office and plans to take full advantage of this proximity for as long as CPJ staff will willingly open the front door.
After many years of use, the time has come to say goodbye to CPJ’s now-familiar newsletter designation, Ola! The name will be replaced with a fresher and more apropos title. Stay tuned for its unveiling!
This year’s summer issue of the Catalyst is is in the mail to CPJ members. You can also view it on our website. Feature articles describe the debate around food banks and hunger in Canada, the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, as well as CPJ’s continuing focus on poverty and environmental issues. A wonderful reflection by a pastor explores discussions at a church synod and how delegates can achieve unity on tough questions. As well, we have continued to include our popular section of book reviews – including four selections for children of all ages. If you are a CPJ member and would like to receive the Catalyst electronically in future, please just let us know, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Promoting the Common Good
Every year, the House of Commons Finance Committee solicits input on what the top priorities should be for the next federal budget. This pre-budget consultation process includes a call for submissions and a series of hearings across the country, and results in a report that is tabled in the House prior to the December parliamentary break. As in years past, CPJ has submitted a response. While the committee’s questions mainly focused on economic growth, productivity and GDP, CPJ’s response made the case that these goals, in and of themselves, fall short. Economic growth at all costs does not equal well-being. Read more…
A Tale of Two Provinces: a case for action against poverty
British Columbia & Newfoundland and Labrador have more in common than being our country’s coastal bookends. Twelve years ago, they shared the distinction of having some of the highest poverty rates in the country. Fast forward ten years, however, and a much different picture emerges. As the recently released Statistics Canada low-income data for 2010 reveals, Newfoundland now has one of the lowest poverty rates amongst the provinces, with 6.5 per cent of the population living in poverty. BC, on the other hand, still has the distinction of having, by far, the highest poverty rate amongst the provinces at 11.5 per cent. So what made the difference? Read more…
The Right to Food in Canada
What would you say about hunger in Canada if the United Nations were to ask? Canadians had to think hard about that question when Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, visited Canada in May. Mr. De Schutter was on an eleven day mission to map out Canada’s compliance with our international human rights commitments. What he found fell short of these commitments. Stats Can reports that close to two and a half million Canadians are moderately or severely food insecure. Mr. De Schutter decried the fact that in such a wealthy nation, one in ten families with a child under six is unable to meet their daily food needs. It’s high time for Canada to develop a national food policy. Read more…
Cities Taking Action in the Fight Against Poverty
Canadian cities are beginning to take the lead in the fight against poverty. Municipalities across Canada are working in partnership with communities and non-profit organizations to conduct research, identify neighbourhoods in need, find solutions and most of all, take action to reduce poverty. While only part of the solution, locally-based poverty reduction strategies are important because they take into account the unique needs of communities and identify micro-level changes that can make a big difference for people living in poverty. So where has there been progress? Read more…
A Franciscan Benediction
May God bless you with discomfort…
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger…
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears…
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
For all at CPJ, Melodi Alopaeus. It has been a privilege and pleasure to be a part of the CPJ staff this year. Blessings to you in the season ahead!
Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) and our work of faith, justice and politics: