Ola! April/May 2012
Welcome to the April issue of Ola!, the monthly e-newsletter of Citizens for Public Justice with upcoming events, creative public justice initiatives, and an update on the Dignity for All Campaign to catch up on. Read on to learn more!
CPJ Annual General Meeting
On Thursday, May 10, 2012 CPJ will be hosting its Annual General Meeting. Join us for an evening of refreshments, sharing, and an address by special guest, Sheila Regehr, former executive director of the National Council of Welfare. The event will be held in the Woodside Hall at Dominion Chalmers Church in Ottawa. Parking and entrance are on Lisgar St.
6:00 – gathering and refreshments
6:30 – CPJ’s annual business meeting
7:15 – break and refreshments
7:30 – "Canada's Priorities - Prisons, Pipelines, Planes… and Poverty?" – address by Sheila Regehr with response by Simon Lewchuk, Socio-Economic Policy Analyst at CPJ and Coordinator of Dignity for All: the Campaign for a poverty-free Canada
8:30 – adjournment, fellowship and refreshments
Everyone is welcome! Join us for the entire evening, or come at 7:30pm for Sheila Regehr’s thoughtful and challenging talk. For those of you unable to attend, please send in the ballot you’ve received in the mail this week.
We look forward to seeing you there!
On April 26-27, anti-poverty advocates, academics, and concerned citizens gathered for the Dignity for All Campaign Policy Summit in Ottawa. The theme of this year’s Summit was income security throughout the life cycle, exploring issues related to federal income security programs for children, working adults, and seniors. Jointly organized by CPJ and Canada Without Poverty, the event featured presentations from some of the brightest public policy thinkers in Canada. Participants spent two days learning about and critically reviewing policies and social assistance programs like Employment Insurance and Old Age Security. The Summit represented a valuable opportunity to network with other anti-poverty advocates as well as a step toward drafting a model federal poverty elimination strategy – one of the DfA campaign’s primary goals.
Read a report of the Summit.
Social Justice Conference
A conference on Social Justice and Human Rights was organized by the Institute of Christian Studies in Toronto on April 27 – 28. Keynote lecturer for this event was theologian Nicholas Wolterstorff of Yale University. CPJ was asked to organize a panel on Poverty and Rights, highlighting the work we do through the Dignity for All campaign. The panel featured CPJ’s Joe Gunn as well as former Board member Maria Paez-Victor, and include Michael DeMoor from King’s College, Edmonton. For more info, please see the ICS website.
CPJ Video Contest
Citizens for Public Justice is running an exciting video contest to engage high school students in considering and acting upon important social justice issues in Canada. This year’s topic is “A Canada for All Kids: Seeking Justice for Canada’s First Nations Children.” This initiative presents a great opportunity for students to learn about the significant inequities that exist for Aboriginal children in Canada, as well as a way for students to stand in solidarity with their fellow Aboriginal Canadians in seeking a better future for Canada. Deadline for video submissions is June 15, 2012. Complete contest details and entry form can be found at cpj.ca/contest. For additional questions, contact Melodi.
BIEN Canada Congress
On May 3-5, Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) Canada is hosting its 11th North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress in Toronto. The event will feature a myriad of speakers and workshops on issues related to income security, with a focus on the feasibility of a Guaranteed Annual Income in Canada. CPJ representatives will be attending the event and also hosting a plenary session entitled, “Income Security Across the Life Cycle: Next Steps in Canada.” The session will feature a panel including CPJ’s Katherine Scott, along with representatives from Campaign 2000, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. CPJ’s Simon Lewchuk will act as moderator. For more information visit biencanada.ca.
Connecting With the Local Church
Rene at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ottawa
At St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church’s movie night on April 14, CPJ’s Rene Joergensen watched CPJ’s new video, Gerald Vandezande’s Vision of Public Justice, with the local social justice group of the church. Following the movie, Rene presented the work of CPJ and led a discussion on CPJ’s perspectives of public justice.
The event generated lively and sincere dialogue about being agents of justice and our responsibility as citizens. All agreed that Christian citizenship should have a sharp focus on the love of neighbor and the common good, especially in times when this is less popular.
Simon at Calvin Christian Reformed Church, Ottawa
On April 21, CPJ’s Simon Lewchuk presented a workshop at Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Ottawa for Classis Eastern Canada-West’s annual Day of Encouragement. At the workshop, entitled “Looking Beyond the Numbers”, participants discussed the implications the recent federal budget will have on people living in poverty, particularly the government’s proposed changes to OAS/GIS programs for seniors, and ways that our churches can respond.
Good-bye to Patricia
It is with sadness that CPJ says an early goodbye to our on-contract socio-economic policy analyst, Patricia Graça, who will be moving on to a new opportunity this month. Although Patricia’s stint at CPJ was brief, she left a lasting mark on our organization. CPJ benefited from both her quality work and her warm personality. We will miss both of these things, as well as hearing her speak Portuguese in the office!
All the best to you, Patricia, as you move on to an exciting new phase of your life.
Promoting Income Security Across the Life Cycle
What does public policy in Canada look like when we prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society? Some of the nation’s brightest public policy thinkers gathered to respond to this question at the recent Dignity for All Campaign Policy Summit in Ottawa. The theme of this year’s Summit was income security throughout the life cycle, exploring issues related to federal income security programs for children, working adults, and seniors. While opinions sometimes diverged, the spirit behind the Summit’s discussions was unanimous: poverty in Canada is unacceptable at any age. Read more…
In a healthy democracy, citizens have a crucial role to play in determining public policy along with a right to participate in the decisions affecting their country and their communities. That is the essence of democracy, especially a democracy that goes beyond the ballot box and rejects the politics of attack and vilification. What do we say, then, when scientists are silenced, academics are attacked, and public servants are fired for questioning the status quo? In this feature, guest writer, Bridget Doherty, reflects on the government’s unsettling actions against numerous institutions in our nation. Read more…
Changes to OAS Will Hurt Low-Income Seniors
By now most Canadians have heard about the changes to seniors’ benefits announced by the federal government in Budget 2012. Beginning in 2023, the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up will be increased from 65 to 67. As a result, seniors will have to work longer, draw from whatever savings they might have, hope for family support, or rely on provincial social assistance programs to get by. It doesn’t have to be this way. OAS/GIS is one of Canada’s most successful tools in reducing poverty and one Canada can well afford to sustain both now and in the future. Read more…
Smoke and Mirrors: What Budget 2012 Really Delivered
Pundits have written the 2012 budget off as modest, and even better than expected after all the hype over predicted austerity measures. Finance Minister Flaherty himself emphasized that cuts to spending are much smaller than the reductions in the mid-1990s. In truth, Canadians are about to lose a lot more than pennies in a budget that delivers substantial and politically symbolic cuts. In combination with unilateral changes to federal-provincial transfers, actions taken in the budget are designed to further erode the presence of the federal government in the lives of Canadians—a strategy that translates into the laying off thousands of public servants and elimination of key public programs. Read more…
The blessing of the signs of spring be yours today:
The new life visible in the fields be a sign of new life in you,
The birds building nests be a sign of belief in the future for you,
The tiny flowers on grassy banks be a sign of the small but
significant things in your life.
May the blessing of God,
Sower of seed,
Nurturer of hope and
Gardener of harmony,
Stay with you today and always.
Rosemary Wass, England. 600 Blessings and Prayers from around the world, compiled by Geoffrey Duncan, Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic Ct: 2001.
For all at CPJ, Melodi Alopaeus. See you next time!
Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) and our work of faith, justice and politics: