Community Social Enterprise, building the evidence of benefits for recovery, wellness and citizenship

See this CMAJ article “Action on the social determinants of health through social enterprise”


Recent attention to the role that social entrepreneurship could play in addressing acute health care challenges1 reminds us that addressing the socioenvironmental factors that influence the physical, mental, social and spiritual components of health and well-being2 requires similarly innovative and imaginative responses. Social enterprises are a potentially useful and economically viable strategy to this end. These are organizations that engage in commercial trade for a social purpose — most often to address one or more aspects of social vulnerability — rather than for the personal financial enrichment of owners or shareholders.  …

please see the article

by 1. Michael J. Roy, PhD Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK; Rosemary Lysaght, PhD, and Terry M. Krupa, PhD  School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont.


“Internet health as a social issue”

CBC’s SPARK, explores how the internet is now part of our… ecology , making me think we need to add it to our efforts to advance the social determinants of health for the people we work with.

“The internet is so critical to human life and the economy and society right now, that its impact is as significant as the environment,”

It may seem strange to think of the “health” of the internet.

But what if we started thinking about caring for the internet, collectively, in order for it to keep working properly?

“The health of the internet is something that we think needs to be a mainstream social issue just like the environment or education.”

Mark Surman is the Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit dedicated to an open internet.

352 Mark Surman

Mark Surman (Mozilla)

Mark likens it to the time just before the environmental movement began to take hold:

See the article here:…cial-issue-1.4053202


Ontario Association of Social Workers president describes efforts to dialogue with the Canadian Association of Social Workers

President Adamson’s memo informs of a OASW and CASW luncheon.

The voice of social work in Ontario La voix du travail social en Ontario

January 2017
Memo to: OASW Branch Presidents
Cc: OASW Board of Directors

Dear Colleagues:
As a follow-up to our November meetings at the OASW Provincial Conference, I wanted to provide you
with an update on CASW.

Joan MacKenzie Davies, OASW Executive Director, and I met with CASW’s new President,
Jan Christianson-Wood, and Executive Director, Fred Phelps, on October 5, 2016. While
OASW had proposed meetings with CASW previously during visits to Ottawa in October 2014, and to
coincide with our attendance at the Eastern Branch 80th Anniversary and Gala on March 23, 2016, the
previous President, Morel Caissie, was unavailable to meet with us on those occasions. The October
2016 meeting came about as the result of a follow-up by the new President to our earlier

The agenda for our meeting consisted of an exchange of information, a sharing of strategic directions,
and getting to know one another. The hour and a half luncheon meeting was cordial and constructive.
Initially, we talked about the future of social work practice as reflected in emerging trends in
government policy and social work practice, as well as emergent challenges and opportunities facing the

Overall, the meeting served the significant purpose of finding out what issues were of uppermost
importance to the respective organizations. There was an alignment around raising the profile of the
profession (CASW has started its own marketing campaign) and Indigenous issues. No specific
commitments were made in regard to next steps, but there was agreement to keep the lines of
communication open.

Please do not hesitate to be in contact with Joan or your Regional Director if you have any further
questions or concerns.
Keith Adamson, PhD, RSW

from Eastern Branch Spring 2017 newsletter found here:

Final Report on Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship from Ontario’s Law Reform Commission

After years of work in developing the report, the Law Commission of Ontario’s final report with suggestions on implementation.…ng-and-guardianship/

These laws have a profound impact on the wellbeing of the individuals addressing both the protection of the autonomy of affected individuals and the risks of abuse and exploitation of individuals who may be vulnerable.

This project responds to public concerns regarding:

  • Misuse of powers of attorney;
  • Inappropriate interventions in lives of elderly Ontarians and Ontarians with disabilities;
  • Complex, lengthy and costly resolution of legal disputes;
  • Widespread lack of understanding among individuals, families, health and legal professionals, institutions, community agencies, and others; and,
  • Need to update Ontario’s laws in light of significant impact of demographic, legal, and social changes since these laws were introduced.

The LCO’s report is the most comprehensive analysis of Ontario’s framework governing legal capacity, decision-making and guardianship laws in nearly 30 years. Ontario’s current legislative regime for legal capacity, decision-making and guardianship took shape following several provincial reports in the late 1980s – early 1990s.


” Do not be lulled to sleep by a government labelled NDP, or socialist, or social democratic”

Reuel Amdur shared his article in The Canadian Charger on his experience in Social Welfare implementing Ontario NDP policy.  

Some comments on the article were made on the Ottawa Homeless List Serve shared other perspectives of what was/is in play for government by Alan Moschovich and Marlene Koehler.


Ontario’s NDP Government: A Sad History

Reuel S. Amdur

More by this author…

The current official abandonment by political parties of concern for the poor, in their focus on “the middle class,” calls to mind the Ontario NDP’s disregard for the poor going back to the days when they were in power, from 1990 to 1995. At the time, I was working first at Seaton House, a men’s shelter and residence operated by Toronto’s welfare department, and then as a supervisor in Ottawa’s welfare department.

When Bob Rae’s NDP government was elected, those of us concerned about the poor thought we had died and gone to heaven.  Not.  Under Rae the poor endured one blow after another.  Prior to the Rae election, each December there was provision for a token amount added to the check as a Christmas bonus.  During Bob Rae’s term in office, the Christmas bonus was abolished across the province.

As far as rates are concerned, prior to the Rae régime, each year it was practice to increase rates in recognition of changes in the cost of living.  Rae interrupted that practice.

Then there is the matter of a form colloquially referred to as the layman’s medical.  This was a form that a welfare worker could fill out in aid of a client applying for disability benefits.  I remember being in a meeting with a physician who was on the Ottawa board which determined eligibility for such benefits.  He waxed enthusiastic about layman’s medical forms completed by Holly Murphy, an Ottawa welfare worker.  The form was the only designated input by the welfare worker about the condition of the client seeking designation as disabled.  The doctor’s comment was an indication of its potential impact, but the Rae government abolished it.  It became that much harder for someone to get the higher disability rate of assistance.

Rae’s government also hit welfare recipients with cars.  They were allowed to have a car so long as its value was not greater than $5,000.  ($10,000 is the current limit.)  Welfare offices all began buying automotive red books, to determine the value of cars.  The regulation went on to specify what would happen if someone showed up with a car worth more than $5,000.  The person was given six months to dispose of the car.  In fact, burdened by a rule book bigger than the phone book, workers frequently failed to apply the regulation.  In her book Hope and Despair, Monia Mazigh describes her experiences in applying for welfare while she had a car.  The first time, she was told that she was not eligible till she got rid of the car.  The second time the worker ignored the car and put her on assistance.  There was a complicating factor that was never raised with welfare: it was not her car.  It was her husband’s, Maher Arar, who was in a Syrian prison at the time.  Fun and games with a stupid regulation.  The regulation is still in effect.

Sponsored immigrants were a special target.  If a person applied for assistance because of a sponsorship breakdown, the immigrant’s assistance was dinged $50 a month.  There were a few exceptions, but, for example, if the sponsor had left the country the deduction still applied.  Fortunately, this regulation is now unpleasant history.

Another measure applied to new applicants for assistance.  While the rules for the amount that recipients may keep from any earnings on welfare vary from time to time, leaving recipients confused and fearful about any work, at one point the Rae government decreed that new applicants would be docked 100% of earnings for the first several months on assistance.  I remember one young man who had been on a federal make-work program in Kingston, silk-screening t-shirts.  He could not make a living at it and came to Ottawa and applied for welfare.  I told him about the rule.  He told me that he would not be looking for work for that period of time.

The sad experience with Ontario’s NDP government carries an important lesson.  Do not be lulled to sleep by a government labelled NDP, or socialist, or social democratic.  Assume that, whatever government is elected, it is the enemy.  Make it prove otherwise.

Comments from the list serve

Marlene Koehler 

My recollection was that the Rae government initially raised and then, faced with a continuing recession in which government workers had to forego some of their salary in “Rae days”, froze the social assistance rates.
And that it was the Mike Harris government that actually cut the rates – and significantly: .
I’m not sure whether you’re recommending Ontario keep its Liberal government, which has slowly liberalized some benefits (particularly work incentives). Or just demonstrating the importance of getting social democrats to commit to better reforms and holding them to account.
Alan Moscovitch
The history of what occurred in the support of people who were in need of social assistance during the Rae years was much more complex than can be or is presented by Reuel in this short piece. In the early months of the Rae government there was a window open for reform and many changes made were very positive. Then the window closed when the impact of the FTA and NAFTA hit Ontario, unemployment rose dramatically, government revenues fell and expenditures rose, creating a rapidly expanding deficit. Further, the Federal government limited funding for social assistance and social services under the CAP. By the time CAP was abolished in 1996, federal funding had dropped from 50% to less than 30%, an enormous impact during what was a federal government generated recession when social assistance was unfortunately becoming the biggest business in the province. Provincial finances went south rapidly, but even then the Rae government did continue to increase social assistance rates until the dependency rate (% of the population dependent on social assistance) reached levels not seen since the Depression. Nonetheless, there were opportunities for positive reform which were lost, so I do agree whole heartedly with the conclusion, that no government should be taken at its word alone. I am not sure that I would agree that every government is the enemy, but I do agree that governments that say they are intending to work according to social justice principles should be helped to it by an involved citizenry doing everything it can to push them in that direction. Everything from letter writing, phone calls, petitions, social media commentary to mass movements of people in the streets, all together play a role in influencing governments to act.

Mental health and human rights: What have human rights ever done for me?

From Christopher Snowdon, author and freelance journalist @Sectioned_, service user and (micro)blogger

You’ll often see me banging on on twitter about human rights (often using the hashtag #humanrights). Why have I got such a bee in my bonnet about human rights? Aren’t they just for journalists locked up in foreign jails, prisoners banned from voting or from being sent books, refugees? Aren’t they just about freedom of expression, torture, death row inmates? And why do they even matter if the government scraps the Human Rights Act, as we’ve heard the Conservative party propose recently? These are all important questions. … (go to rest of article below)

Human Rights Act 1988 Articles BIHR

Source: Mental health and human rights: What have human rights ever done for me?

Article explains and critiques current federal housing budget plans

Article from by leading housing/homeless policy leader

HULCHANSKI: Trudeau’s housing spending is smoke and mirrors

In a year when the high cost of housing dominates the headlines, this year’s federal budget is promoting a bright shiny object: the allocation of $11 billion for housing.

Well before budget day, we were told to expect that $11 billion. On budget day, there it was, in all its glory.

But when you look closer, the money is not actually there. It’s not real. The $11 billion for housing is an alternative fact, distracting us from a gaping hole in the budget figures.

The bright shiny object has, unfortunately, led many NGOs and charities to praise the Liberal government. The praise is likely the product of hope mixed with fear. The promise comes from a political party with a well-earned reputation for not keeping its promises.

The fear is that the Liberal Party’s housing policy has not changed since the 1990s.

After promising a host of progressive housing initiatives during the 1993 election that returned them to power, the triumphant Liberals then declared that housing was no longer a federal responsibility, that no more social housing would be funded, and that existing federally owned public housing would be downloaded to the provinces.

Then-Finance Minister Paul Martin, in his Budget Plan of March 6, 1996, stated: “CMHC will phase out its remaining role in social housing, except for housing on Indian reserves. The first step has already been taken – there has been no funding for new social housing units since 1993. To further clarify jurisdiction in the social housing field, the federal government is now prepared to offer provincial and territorial governments the opportunity to take over the management of existing social housing resources.”

Twenty-one years later, the most troubling proviso in this budget is that the $11 billion will be spent over eleven years. Eleven years? Not three? Not five?

Out of a budget of more than $300 billion annually, is $1 billion a year the best that one of the wealthiest countries on Earth can do? Is our housing system so well developed, are Canadians so well housed, are there so few un-housed people, that the remaining social need for housing assistance now requires only a tiny fraction of our federal monies?

Worse, the amount pledged is not an average of $1 billion per year. It is not huge spending now, tailing off over the remaining years. Instead, there will be almost no new money for housing until after the next election.

That shiny $11 billion object cannot obscure what’s on Page 151 in the Budget, a page with few words and many numbers. Look closely at those columns full of zeros or very small numbers.

All those zeros sit next to the impressive list of housing initiatives included this year with a paltry $20 million allocation next year and the following year, with only $305 million.

Let’s face it: there is no new money for housing this year, and almost nothing for next year. Furthermore, only $3.1 billion of that bright shiny $11 billion is accounted for during the initial five years. The “$11 billion” is an alternative fact for partisan political use.

We now have it in writing that the Liberal government has no plan for any significant spending to address Canada’s housing needs until after the next election.

Yes, last year’s budget allocated $2.3 billion over two years and partly responds to some of the 2015 election promises. But that’s it, out of two budgets that allocate more than $600 billion dollars in total.

We should judge politicians and parties by what they do, not by what they say. The current budget offers no real change from the 1990s philosophy about the limited role of the federal government in Canada’s housing system – aside from the mortgage system.

But let’s look at a budget that actually described expenditure decisions rather than producing partisan talking points. Let’s go back to a previous Trudeau government.

In 1981, interest rates were high, house construction was in a slump, unemployment soared. Given these realities, the 1981 budget introduced a new Canada Rental Supply Plan and then, in 1982, doubled the allocation to 33,000 new private-sector rental units.

The 1982 budget provided funding for a Canadian Home Ownership Stimulation Plan. It doubled the existing Canada Home Renovation Plan, and increased the annual allocation for non-profit and co-operative housing from 25,000 units to 27,500 units for that year.

Those budget announcements were real and immediate, and actually resulted in the construction of affordable ownership, private rental, and social housing, not to mention the creation of thousands of construction jobs.

The cost was about $1 billion in new spending (inflation-adjusted to 2017), on top of existing housing expenditures – e.g., amounts set aside to build 20,000 to 25,000 new social housing units annually.

Now look at last year’s budget, which included funds for a new affordable rental housing innovation program. How much “innovative” rental housing? Just 4,000 units — over five years. In other words, 800 units per year for the entire country. Really?


We used to recognize and make some progress in addressing the pressing housing needs facing Canadians. As a nation, we have the wealth and ability to do so. But our government no longer chooses to address housing shortages.

In an era of alternative facts, it is easy to confuse voters so as to maintain our housing system as it is — a highly efficient mechanism for increasing inequality – rather than providing adequate and affordable housing for all Canadians. We reformed our health care system decades ago. It’s time to reform our housing system.

Who will be the Tommy Douglas of our housing system?

photo by Marcus Bowman

David Hulchanski is Professor, Housing and Community Development, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. Follow him at @Hulchanski.