Ola! May 2010
- CPJ releases research paper on the impact of the recession
- Progress towards a federal anti-poverty Act
- CPJ meets new HUMA Committee Chair
- “Poor no More” launch on Parliament Hill
- CPJ development and fundraising news
- BIEN Canada conference
- CPJ comes to Toronto
- How will you and your congregation respond?
- Climate change as a moral problem: CPJ attends retreat
- CPJ’s Annual General Meeting, Thursday, May 27, 2010: Everyone welcome!
- World Religious Summit on the G8/G20 meetings: Sign the Petition
- Connect with CPJ on Facebook
- Web Features
- Still waiting for recovery: Recession increases poverty rate in Canada
- The G8 – G20 in Canada: A time for inspired leadership and change
- Muted Voices? Public Justice and the Canadian Churches
- Time for an Affordable Housing Act?
- The Commission of Hope
- Does representative democracy threaten national security?
- Closing Prayer: God has given us a dream
Welcome to the May issue of Ola!, the monthly e-newsletter of Citizens for Public Justice. May has brought glorious weather to the nation’s capital, an early start to the tulip season, and no shortage of activities in our work for justice! Read about our recent connections with parliamentarians, conference presentations, speaking engagements and workshops. Join us as we continue our pursuits for public justice!
CPJ releases research paper on the impact of the recession
CPJ released a new report yesterday detailing the increase in poverty and economic insecurity caused by the recession. The report, Bearing the Brunt: How the 2008-2009 Recession Created Poverty for Canadian Families was launched at a press conference on Parliament Hill. MPs Mike Savage and Tony Martin attended the press conference.
By examining key economic indicators, the paper charts the rise in poverty caused by the recession. Unemployment rose, but Employment Insurance was inadequate in meeting the needs of the unemployed. Social assistance caseloads rose across the country as a result. The rate of precarious work increased, as the most economically vulnerable employees were also the most likely to lose their jobs as a result of the recession. Low income Canadians had to stretch their incomes farther as the cost of living increased more than inflation. The result was rising debt loads, an increase in bankruptcies and skyrocketing food bank use.
To learn more, check out www.cpj.ca/bearingthebrunt. In addition to the research paper, a short summary document is available.
Progress towards a federal anti-poverty Act
The second goal of the Dignity for All campaign is “A federal anti-poverty Act that ensures enduring federal commitment and accountability for results.” In a roundtable convened by NDP MP Tony Martin on March 23, steps were taken to refine his private member’s bill “An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada.” CPJ policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn and CPJ intern (law) Christie Conway participated in this conversation alongside representatives from the National Council of Welfare, Food Banks Canada, the Canadian Cooperative Association, and others. With draft text in hand, the discussion focused on the framing of poverty and related issues, poverty measures, and the level of specificity required in an Act. Significant consideration was also given to the proposed mechanisms for implementation, monitoring, and accountability for action on the poverty elimination plan that would be required under such an Act. The process going forward is still being defined and will depend on the report of the HUMA committee and other political factors.
CPJ meets new HUMA Committee Chair
With the resumption of Parliament in March, Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner (Portage-Lisgar, Manitoba) became the new chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA). Over the last couple of years, CPJ has been following a number of initiatives under consideration by the HUMA committee, most notably their study on the federal contribution to reducing poverty in Canada. As a result we had the opportunity to develop a good relationship with past-chair MP Dean Allison. In anticipation of the forthcoming report on the poverty study, CPJ’s Karri Munn-Venn and CPJ intern (social work) Kathryn Cummings, along with Dennis Howlett of Make Poverty History (MPH), met with Ms. Hoeppner on April 13. They had a candid conversation about poverty in Canada and the importance of the HUMA study. CPJ and MPH highlighted the Dignity for All campaign and its call for federal action. They also urged Ms. Hoeppner to continue the practice of multi-party collaboration on the committee, established by her predecessor, and to endeavour to produce a consensus report on the poverty study.
“Poor no More” launch on Parliament Hill
On April 12 CPJ’s Executive Director, Joe Gunn, policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn and policy intern Rebekah Sears attended the Parliament Hill launch of “Poor no More”, the documentary film hosted by Canadian television and film star Mary Walsh. ”Poor no More” addresses the challenges faced by the working poor in Canada, such as the casualization of labour (where low wage jobs with few benefits replace permanent full-time jobs), and offers viable solutions to these problems – including policy change. The launch was hosted by Members of Parliament Tony Martin (NDP), Dean Allison (Con), and Mike Savage (Lib). Several other MPs as well as representatives from numerous civil society organizations also attended.
CPJ development and fundraising news
Spring has arrived in Ottawa, and along with the blossoming trees, CPJ is pleased to have experienced a growth in new memberships and supporters. We have also been blessed to have had many supporters renew their covenant with CPJ in 2010.
As you know, CPJ has been making tremendous progress with the Dignity for All campaign. The Canadian public is increasingly engaged. There is also growing recognition among parliamentarians of the public justice imperative to address poverty – along with the economic benefit of doing so.
Several MPs from across the political spectrum have acknowledged CPJ’s leadership in the movement towards eliminating poverty in Canada. We are recognized among policy networks for our collaboration on socio-economic issues, diversity, and ecological justice.
We need your support. Please visit our website, and become a member or increase your donation to CPJ today. While you’re there, click through to the Dignity for All website and sign-on to this exciting initiative. With your help, we can continue to offer a key Christian voice in the dialogue on Canadian public policy.
BIEN Canada conference
On April 14-16, policy analyst Chandra Pasma was in Montreal to attend an international conference on “Basic Income in a Time of Upheaval: A Path to Justice and Stability?” The conference offered three days of thought-provoking presentations on Guaranteed Livable Income and its potential for providing economic security in times of international economic crises, as well as presentations on designing and implementing a GLI.
Chandra presented on “The Great Recession: What Happened to Economic Security in 2009?” By looking at key economic indicators, Chandra offered an analysis of poverty trends in the last year and the lessons they suggest for GLI. To read more about the conference, check out Chandra’s blog post.
CPJ comes to Toronto
On Tuesday April 13, CPJ’s Executive Director, Joe Gunn, made a presentation at Grace Christian Reformed Church in Scarborough, Ontario. Some 70 people from various faith communities attended the event, which was co-sponsored by the Scarboro Interfaith Affordable Housing Association. The opening prayer for the evening was read by CPJ’s founding Executive Director, Gerald Vandezande, and the evening chaired by a former CPJ staff person, Janet Somerville. Joe’s presentation focused on how, due to staff and budget cuts in recent years, the public justice voice of the Canadian churches has become “muted and maligned.” A vibrant conversation ensued about how this situation might be changed, given the many social and ecological challenges facing Canada today, and how groups like CPJ play a helpful role.
The following day, Joe joined Mary Corkery, Executive Director of KAIROS, to lead a joint workshop for 42 leaders of various Catholic religious missionary congregations. Participants came from all continents, and the theme of the afternoon session was how spirituality for mission is being developed in Canada. The speakers gave visitors a sense of what burning public justice issues have emerged for the Christian churches, as they described how CPJ and KAIROS are attempting to address poverty, climate change, energy policy and other concerns.
How will you and your congregation respond?
On Saturday, April 24, Karri Munn-Venn and CPJ intern (theology) Adam Snook addressed the Ottawa/St. Lawrence Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). In a workshop focused on exploring the complex reality of poverty in Canada, Karri and Adam shared statistics and stories – including a short clip from the film “Poor No More” – and encouraged participants to explore potential avenues for action. Working in small groups, the clergy and lay leaders considered real life stories of prejudice, exclusion, financial limitations, policy barriers, and inadequate supports. They imagined how they would respond if the person behind the story were a newcomer to their church. A rich discussion on the need to offer multiple levels of support ensued, as participants raised the importance of offering a listening ear, the ability of a congregation to assist a family with items like sports uniforms, the good work of church food banks and meals, and the need for changes to immigration and social policies. Following the workshop Adam and Karri led a brief period of worship during which we offered thanksgiving for baptism and the opportunity to pray and work together in the service of all of God’s people.
Climate change as a moral problem: CPJ attends retreat
For two days in mid-April, 75 people, including CPJ’s Joe Gunn, gathered at the headquarters of the United Church of Canada to discuss how climate change has become one of the foremost challenges to living faith with integrity. Although the event was sponsored by some of Canada’s largest Protestant churches (United, Presbyterian and Anglican) several speakers also represented Evangelical traditions, such as the Evangelical Fellowship and A-Rocha, a Christian conservation organization. Important contributions were also made by youth and environmental activists, as well as Buddhist, Muslim and Baha’i representatives. An African speaker emphasized how climate change is mostly caused by the lifestyle of the North, while poor populations of the Global South pay the greatest price in environmental destruction, change in rain patterns, sea level rise, etc. A major challenge to the Canadian churches was presented by United Church Moderator, Mardi Tindal, who noted she was the only North American church leader to attend December’s Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. Future retreats are being planned in other Canadian centres, and CPJ has been asked to play a major role in their organization.
CPJ’s Annual General Meeting, Thursday, May 27, 2010: Everyone welcome!
Thursday, May 27, beginning at 6:00 p.m.
6:00 – gathering, refreshments and music
6:30 – business meeting
7:15 – break and refreshments
7:30 – Recession, Recovery and Poverty: Is the End Near?
- Richard Shillington, Policy Analyst, INFORMETRICA
- Respondent: Karri Munn-Venn, CPJ
Dominion Chalmers Church, 355 Cooper Street (corner of O’Connor), Ottawa, Ontario (Woodside Hall, Parking and Entrance on Lisgar Street)
World Religious Summit on the G8/G20 meetings: Sign the Petition
The G8/G20 meetings are scheduled for late June in Huntsville and Toronto. The globe’s most powerful political leaders will gather to set an international agenda for development and peace. Meanwhile, at the University of Winnipeg, sponsored in part by the Canadian Council of Churches, a World Religions Summit will take place from June 21 to 23. At this summit, religious leaders from around the world will strategize and discuss how to keep the Millennium Development Goals (including issues of poverty, health, and the environment) at the top of the agenda for participating countries in the G8/G20 meetings. It is crucial that these issues become a top priority around the world – and here in Canada.
As the world comes to Canada you can help by signing the petition stating the importance of addressing these issues, while recognizing that they are issues of faith.
For more information, check out the website for the World Religions Summit 2010.
Connect with CPJ on Facebook
CPJ has a Facebook fan site! It’s one of the easiest ways to connect with supporters, share ideas, and keep up to speed on recent CPJ commentary and events. New information from our website is posted weekly. So become a fan today and stay connected with the CPJ community!
A new CPJ research paper on the impacts of the recession, the Biblical foundations and calls for justice, the upcoming G8 – G20 summits, affordable housing, and government accountability. These are just a few of the themes CPJ has covered in recent features and blog posts.
Still waiting for recovery: Recession increases poverty rate in Canada
While recent headlines have proclaimed that economic recovery is proceeding full steam ahead in Canada, recovery is not the reality for far too many Canadian families. The recession created poverty for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, leaving many struggling with the recession’s continuing impact.
While standard poverty measures will not be available until 2011, new research (www.cpj.ca/bearingthebrunt) from Citizens for Public Justice on key economic trends reveals the deep impact of the recession on poverty and economic insecurity. Bearing the Brunt: How the 2008-2009 Recession Created Poverty for Canadian Families was released in Ottawa on Tuesday. Read more…
The G8 – G20 in Canada: A time for inspired leadership and change
Canada is hosting the G8 and G20 summits in June this year. Among the flurry of advocacy and education on global issues, this year there is a new coalition of faith communities organizing to make a difference. For the first time in Canada, national organizations of Christian, Baha’i, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, and First Nations faith communities are working together at a Religious Leaders' Summit to mobilize Canadians to address poverty, care for Creation, and invest in peace. Read more…
Muted Voices? Public Justice and the Canadian Churches
Hasn’t the silence been deafening? What have you heard your church saying about the tremendous recession that has left 1.5 million Canadians unemployed?
There is a troubling trend in Canada. When asked about social justice work, many mainline churches in Canada, even up to two-thirds in some circumstances, report decreases in resources, staff, budgets and overall effectiveness for such programs. Has the church abandoned its work on social justice, rooted in faith and scriptural teaching? Is there any way to revitalize such work? Read more…
Time for an Affordable Housing Act?
Just over a year ago, in April 2009, Libby Davies (MP, Vancouver East) introduced her private member’s bill for a “Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act” (Bill C-304). If passed, this legislation will require the establishment of a national housing strategy. A strategy developed in consultation with the provinces and other stakeholders that guarantees the right to safe, secure, adequate, affordable and accessible housing for all Canadians.
Bill C-304 is currently on its way to third reading. If passed, it would serve as landmark legislation by acknowledging the right to housing. It would also provide a valuable model for future legislative efforts to address poverty, its causes, consequences, and complexities. Read more…
The Commission of Hope
Hope came into this broken world, with a message of love and justice, when Jesus Christ was born at Christmas, but it did not end there. Hope remained and became even more powerful through Christ’s death and resurrection at Easter. Conquering sin, death and injustice, Jesus’ resurrection represents new birth, redemption of creation, and the coming of the Kingdom of God. With this renewed sense of hope at Easter comes a renewed call to promote love and justice, bringing hope into our churches, communities and nations. Read more…
Does representative democracy threaten national security?
The government has refused to produce uncensored documents relating to the question of whether Canada is complicit in the torture of Afghan detainees despite the request of the House of Commons. The government claims that it would compromise national security to do so. But national security is no excuse to avoid accountability: accountability is a core principle of both democracy and public justice. Canadians have a right to know what is being done in our name. Representative democracy is no threat to national security. Read more…
Closing Prayer: God has given us a dream
God has given us a dream:
a tree whose leaves are for the healing of nations.
And into our hands God places the seed
to give birth to such a tree.
Go forth with that dream inside you.
Go forth with hope burning bright.
Go to be planters of seeds,
nurturers of hopeful things.
And may God bless you with the vision
of that hope come to fruition before your eyes.
Roberta Rominger, USA/England. 600 Blessings and Prayers from around the world, compiled by Geoffrey Duncan, Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic Ct: 2001.
For all at CPJ, Rebekah Sears. Enjoy the spring and the tulips and we’ll see you again in June!
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