Faith in the City
Inaugurated in 2013, Faith in the City is an initiative of various faith leaders and city officials encouraging faith communities to work across their traditional boundaries, and in co-operation with the City of Toronto, on issues of common social concern. On April 30, 2015, Faith in the City held its 3rd Annual Symposium. This year, the focus was responding to the City of Toronto’s progress on developing a Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Poverty directly affects hundreds of thousands of Torontonians with negative repercussions on all of us. Poverty is at the core of a whole range of interconnected social issues. Almost 150,000 children in Toronto (25 per cent of our children) live in poverty.
The event included an address by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell. She highlighted three main challenges to poverty reduction: 1) inclusive economic possibilities; 2) vulnerability of our environment; and 3) issues of social inclusion, especially regarding women and girls, youth, people who are homeless, and seniors.
During her brief six months in her new appointment, she has attended 400 public events. In her desire to learn about the residents of Ontario and their needs, she asks them, “What should I shine the light on?” A Page-boy surprised her by his articulation of his concern regarding the poverty of children and their families.
In his plenary address, the Honourable Hugh Segal emphasized that a “fundamental fix” is needed to decrease the poverty rate. We can no longer respond with piecemeal, band-aid solutions and we must build “an infrastructure of civility”. To illustrate his comments describing the stress of poverty on the individual, the family and society he showed the Harvard Video Building Capacities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change.
Participants were asked to sign a petition The Faith Communities’ Charter and Action Plan on Poverty Reduction which will be presented to Mayor John Tory. You are encouraged to sign the charter online by clicking here.
In the food security workshop I attended, I felt hopeful when different organizations eagerly supported an innovative project. Working collaboratively, they will be able to distribute high quality food to more groups at less cost. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we work together!
Sister Betty Lou Knox