Ola! June 2012
Welcome to June’s edition of Ola!, CPJ’s online newsletter. Summer is officially here and at CPJ that means engaging in summer research and upgrade projects, enjoying a little down time, and gearing up for an exciting fall season. Read on to learn more about the latest CPJ news!
Dignity for All Letter Re: Bill C-38
On June 13th, members of Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada (co-led by CPJ) sent an open letter to the Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Finance outlining concerns about the impact the federal budget implementation bill (C-38) will have on vulnerable Canadians and provincial/territorial interests. The letter urges the Finance Ministers to raise these concerns at their next meeting with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and concludes by highlighting the need for a national poverty reduction strategy. A copy of the open letter and accompanying press release can be found on the Dignity for All website.
Launch of All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus
On June 12th, CPJ ED Joe Gunn and Policy Analyst Simon Lewchuk attended the kick-off reception for the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus (APC) on Parliament Hill. The APC will bring together parliamentarians, civil society organizations, community leaders, researchers, and other key stakeholders to find concrete solutions to end poverty. Over 40 parliamentarians – including Conservatives, NDP and Liberals – have signed-up for the APC, which will begin regularly meeting when the House resumes this fall. APC co-chair MP Jean Crowder expressed her thanks to the Dignity for All campaign and acknowledged the role of our February 14th public event, “What’s Next? How do we Address Poverty in Canada”, in laying the groundwork for this non-partisan dialogue.
CPJ on the Hill
Last month, CPJ met with the NDP’s new Human Resources Critic, Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, ON). Joe & Simon shared about CPJ’s poverty work (including our upcoming national Poverty Scorecard) and the Dignity for All campaign for a poverty-free Canada, and encouraged Ms. Charlton’s participation in the new All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus. As a result of the meeting, Ms. Charlton was able to secure endorsements from all remaining NDP MPs for the Dignity for All campaign, bringing our total number of endorsements up to 132 MPs and 22 Senators. If you haven’t already, you can ask your MP to sign-on.
On June 21 the CPJ team met with the Senator Don Meredith (Conservative). Sen. Meredith is treasurer of the newly formed anti-poverty caucus and Executive Director and co-founder of the Greater Toronto Area Faith Alliance, an interfaith group that is dedicated to finding solutions to youth violence. The meeting served as an initial introduction to CPJ’s work and the Dignity for All Campaign. The Senator is very interested in cooperative efforts to fight poverty in Canada and expressed particular interest in collaborating with CPJ on a poverty awareness event in October to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Author and CPJ member Jamie Swift, has written, along with historian Ian McKay, a compelling new book entitled, “Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety.” On June 14th, CPJ’s Joe Gunn moderated a book launch and discussion with the Kingston ON based authors in Ottawa. The “new warriors,” the book asserts, are attempting to militarize Canada’s foreign policy, accompanied by an official glorification of the armed forces. Look for a review of Warrior Nation in your summer edition of the Catalyst, and order the book at www.btlbooks.com.
Farewell Anna and Alex!
This month CPJ staff bid farewell to Anna Thede and Alexandra Baynes.
Anna has spent the last year serving as an intern at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Ottawa. As part of her internship, Anna has worked with CPJ for several months to develop a series of Bible studies to accompany CPJ’s Living Justice: A Gospel Response to Poverty publication. The studies are now complete and have already proven themselves to be a great enrichment to the book. CPJ greatly appreciates the depth of insight Anna brought to this project and all her hard work that saw it through to completion. We will also miss her presence and participation at staff meetings. Thank you for your great work, Anna, and all the best as you step into the next chapter of your journey towards becoming a Lutheran Pastor!
Alex is a Grade 11 student at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Kanata who has spent the last few months helping with administrative tasks in the CPJ office and keeping the CPJ staff in line. Thanks to Alex, two decades’ worth of archived CPJ Catalyst publications will be accessible electronically—no small feat! With her abounding enthusiasm and sense of humour, Alex has contributed greatly to office morale. We will miss having her around at CPJ and wish her all the best as she heads into her graduating year.
CPJ is seeking a Communications Coordinator, to begin September 2012. The Communications Coordinator will be responsible for shaping CPJ’s public policy messaging and building CPJ’s public profile and brand. Tasks involve a range of audiences as well as a range of communications media and products, including CPJ’s website content, publications, and promotional materials.
If you have a passion for public justice, as well as relevant experience and education, we welcome your application.
Application deadline is Sunday July 15, 2012. See complete job description and application details.
Proposed EI reforms miss the mark
Bill C-38 allows for significant new reforms to Employment Insurance (EI). The message behind these reforms is loud and clear: if you’re able and available to work, don’t get too comfortable on the system. EI reforms are needed. But rather than making the system more understandable and accessible, these reforms will, for the most part, make it even more complicated and inconsistent. The reforms attempt to target and prevent frequent users from depending on EI benefits as a regular source of income, but in doing so severely limit access to everyone, including, disproportionally, the vulnerable workers who – for better or worse – must depend on the system for their well-being. Read more…
Charities – Caught in the Crosshairs
When it comes to charitable giving, Canadians are a generous bunch. But government also has a vital role to play in enacting programs that bring help to those in need. However, the government’s recent plans to shape charitable giving proposes initiatives like Social Impact Bonds that tie payment to non-profit groups for services to performance targets, promotes expanding the number of private saving vehicles for families to provide for their own members, and encourages greater involvement of the for-profit sector in addressing social challenges. All of which suggest that the federal government is keen to reduce their role and change the nature of charities. This new community agenda is all about individuals, families, communities, charities and businesses stepping up … as government steps away. Read more…
Bill C-38: Implementing Environmental Neglect?
Over one-third of the now infamous Bill C-38 budget bill deals with environmental issues, with enormous implications for Canadians and the environment. Changes include repeal of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and closure of the National Roundtable on the Economy and the Environment, all but ensuring that Canada will not meet its greenhouse gas reduction commitments in future. C-38 also repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, significantly limiting environmental assessment hearings. Unraveling years of environmental protection legislation in one budget bill is unacceptable. Public justice advocates and concerned citizens must speak up. Read more…
Bill C-38: An Omnibus by Any Other Name
The word “budget” is defined as “an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time”. Most would not expect a budget bill, then, to contain major new policy changes and give the government of-the-day sweeping new powers. However, the budget bill tabled by the federal government on April 26 does just that. Bill C-38 amends more than 60 federal laws, repeals 12, and completely overhauls the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Public justice demands not only policies that pursue the common good and protect the integrity of creation, it demands transparent and accountable governance. Omnibus bill C-38 is an affront to the democratic process and to public justice. Read more…
Income Security System Failing Working Age Adults
Poor working-age individuals are treated with disdain in Canadian income security policy. EI was totally inadequate in responding to the 2008-09 recession with only half of all unemployed Canadians receiving benefits at the recession’s peak. Today, only 42% of unemployed Canadians are eligible for benefits. Canada is in great need of an income platform for the working-age population, responding to the realities of today’s precarious labour market. Instead of addressing the systemic failure of the EI system to respond to this need, however, the federal government has recently proposed changes that will curtail access even further. Read more…
May the openness that summer brings be a gift to us—
To open the windows of our lives to other people,
To open our homes to share the hospitality of table and church.
Open our minds and revel in the beauties of nature—
The smell of newly mown grass
The morning dew on the rosebud
The scent of honeysuckle on the evening air
The open spaces offering relaxation and a change of pace.
Open our hearts to your love and may your Spirit rest with
each one of us.
“Summer” by Rosemary Wass, England. 600 Blessings and Prayers from around the world, compiled by Geoffrey Duncan, Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic Ct: 2001.
For all of us at CPJ, Melodi Alopaeus. Have a wonderful summer!
Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) and our work of faith, justice and politics: