ADVOCACY

Advocacy at St. Cuthbert’s

At vestry in Feb. 2019, we pledged to partner with groups and coalitions working to maintain the minimum wage increase and labour protections of Bill 148, and advocate for these policies ourselves.

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me… Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  Matthew 25:35-6, 40

We are all familiar with giving of ourselves and our material possessions to help those who are less fortunate and I believe St. Cuthbert’s Leaside parishioners do an outstanding job in this regard. What we are less familiar with is advocacy, the act of making the Gospel’s teaching on social issues known to government bodies and private organizations so as to build up our common life in society. There is a long and venerated history of advocacy on the part of the Christian Church with significant results. Christian advocacy played a large part in the abolition of slavery, the ending of apartheid and raising awareness of the rights of women and children across the globe. Locally, church organizations have intervened on behalf of many vulnerable communities with all three levels of government, communities such as the homeless, those suffering from mental illness or drug and alcohol problems. I believe, as a parish, we can greatly contribute to these efforts. St. Cuthbert’s members are educated, articulate and well connected. Advocacy can be as simple as signing petitions or writing to our elected representatives. There are many more forms of advocacy which we will explore in What’s On in the coming weeks.       Desmond Brett, on behalf of the Advocacy Group 

MINIMUM WAGE AND FAIR EMPLOYMENT

People living in poverty are not abstractions removed from the life of the Church. They include our friends, family members, and fellow parishioners. As followers of Jesus, we are called by the Gospel to love our neighbours as ourselves and to treat the most vulnerable in our society as Christ himself. Our baptismal vows commit us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. We must, therefore, protect and stand with our neighbours living in poverty, not only by reaching out to meet their immediate needs but by resisting public discourse that bears false witness against them and calling for public policies that enable them to live in dignity. 

                               Diocese of Toronto Policy Paper on Poverty Reduction 2019

The Bible speaks about the importance of right relations between workers and employers, including just wages. For example:  “You shall not withhold the wages of the poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.”  Deuteronomy 24:14  “Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”  James 5:4

A living wage  – that meets the real needs of workers and their families –  gives dignity.  At St. Cuthbert’s, we pledged at vestry to partner with groups and coalitions working to maintain the minimum wage increase and labour protections of Bill 148, and advocate for these policies ourselves. This is one way that we, as Christians, can care for our neighbours.   Joanne Cantrill, on behalf of the Advocacy Group 

IS THERE A BUSINESS CASE FOR A MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE?

At vestry earlier this year, our parish pledged to partner with groups and coalitions working to maintain the minimum wage increase and labour protections of Bill 148, and advocate for these policies ourselves.Ensuring that all have a living wage is one way that we can follow Jesus and care for the poor. But is raising the minimum wage to $15/hr and the other employment improvements that were planned in Bill 148 (and cancelled by Bill 47) economically feasible? 

In a 2017 open letter, over 50 Canadian economists described this wage increase as economically sound. They reported that recent wage increases in the USA and Canada resulted in little or no job losses;  more productive workplaces can offset some of the higher labour costs.  You can read their letter at  http://www.progressive-economics.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/EconomistsSupport15inOntario.pdf

While the increase of the minimum wage to $14/hr in 2018 represented a significant gain for low-wage workers, the freezing of this wage until 2020 and the repeal of key protections for precarious workers, including pay equity, two paid sick days a year, and scheduling provisions, will make it harder for low-wage earners to escape poverty, particularly if they have to choose between taking a sick day and being paid, or making childcare arrangements and keeping their job.

          Diocese of Toronto Policy Paper on Poverty Reduction  2019

We are looking for opportunities where St. Cuthbert’s can support poverty reduction groups to increase the minimum wage and improve employment protections – stay tuned!  Joanne Cantrill, for the Advocacy Group

Advocacy Resources from the Diocese of Toronto  https://www.toronto.anglican.ca/parish-life/social-justice-and-advocacy/advocacy-resources/