Category: Social Policy meets the Frontline

Discussion on basic guaranteed income @ City Hall: how would it work? Learning from the Dauphin experience

Ontario Association of Social Workers – Eastern branch discussion and sharing the experience of the Dauphin Manitoba Guaranteed Income Experiment via: screening of the documentary, followed by a discussion with a panel of experts.

A Town Without Poverty; Canada’s Experiment in Guaranteed Income”

Wednesday March 4 at noon, Ottawa City Hall in the Councillors Lounge.

Ron Hikel:  Former Executive Director, Dauphin Manitoba income Experiment

Hugh Shewell: MSW, PhD Associate Professor, School of Social Work Carleton University

Linda Lalonde:  Chair of  the Ottawa Poverty Reduction Network

Our Objective:  

  • Provide information about Basic Guaranteed Income
  • Share ideas 
  • Encourage discussion about strategies for implementation of basic income

FREE SOUP KITCHEN –  bring your own mug

This event is part of our celebration of Social Work Week.

The Ottawa Basic Income Network will have an information table.

For further information contact:

 Ontario Association of Social Workers – Eastern Branch /

L’association des travailleuses et travailleurs sociaux de l’Ontario – Section de l’Est 

Heartwood House 404 McArthur Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1K 1G8

Here is the poster for the event, please share widely: OASW Poster March 4 final (1)

Petition that “declares an affordable housing and homelessness emergency in Ottawa,” moves us beyond the “city’s” silo

I know petitions are … iffy, but strategically this could be a step to increase the focus on housing policy at various levels of government.  Useful to remember that the national homelessness strategy in the late 90’s got the political kick from people on the ground, in the cities.

  • So please consider signing the 2 minute wonder and… share with others.
  • This Ottawa campaign has had organizations endorse it as well.   Please consider nudging your organization to step forward.


(Beaver Barracks image above from the Ottawa Alliance to End Homelessness)


The City of Ottawa prides itself as being a caring and compassionate city and continually strives to be a place where people want to live, work and play; and providing access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing for everyone is fundamental to achieving that goal.

We call on Ottawa City Council to adopt Councillor McKenney’s Housing Emergency motion which:

  • declares an affordable housing and homelessness emergency in Ottawa;
  • acknowledges that we do not possess the resources to manage this crisis alone and that we must call on the Provincial and Federal governments to assist us by providing the City with an immediate increase in emergency funding for housing, housing supports and housing allowances as well as a long-term financial plan to meet the needs of the community;
  • resolves that the update to the ten-year housing and homelessness plan includes aggressive targets to:
    • preserve and increase the affordable housing supply;
    • increase access to housing affordability;
    • prevent the occurrence of homelessness and eliminate by 100 per cent chronic homelessness by 2024; and
    • ensure people are supported to achieve housing stability and long-term housing retention.

Please go to the petition here:


Canada’s era of reconciliation meets Indigenous People’s subconscious in “Our Northern Citizen”

For a glimpse of Canada’s planning and governance in play for Indigenous Peoples – useful right now take a look at this half hour documentary by the NFB in 1956 – and consider how policy development echoes and more to the point rings out to us today.

“…  subconscious sense of security in the new ways…;
…changing the Eskimo…;
… imitative skills….”

Our Northern Citizen, John Howe, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Please see the documentary Here:

The film helps us understand the current Indigenous Peoples governance atmosphere and structure in play in Canada’s era of reconciliation as described in this post:



Joining together to address housing that builds ” social, economic and environmental benefits” in Lebreton Flats

A coalition of organizations have joined together to address the development of Lebreton Flats in Ottawa.  The coalition  is unique in its efforts to build a whole community social and health approach.


The National Capital Commission (NCC) is updating its Master Concept Plan for the LeBreton development. Key milestones include a draft to be released in November 2019 and a final plan to be presented for approval by the NCC Board in January 2020. The NCC launched public consultations in June, continuing through the fall, and will consider development best practices from cities in Canada and internationally.

For more about the NCC plans:

Roger Peters explains

… The use of community benefits agreements to build community wealth from major developments is growing rapidly in North America and overseas as communities now realize that the old playbooks used by institutions and developers often leave them little of long-term value. The agreements can ensure that development actually produces social, economic and environmental benefits. They enable the community to play a meaningful role in development planning and execution and they are a defence against weak governance and enforcement. …

Please see the article here:

Learn and engage with the Coalition here:


Finding reconciliation and not having reforms perpetuate the poison of colonialism

Over recent years in the context of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples be it indicated  by acknowledgements at the get go of meetings or announcements of policy’s and initiatives, there has remained a sense for me we are not going about reform and change very well.  Mary McPherson’s drawing “Reconcile What?” helped to wake me up.

(Mary McPherson drawing from )

How do we bridge: understanding with action that advances Indigenous Peoples in our society?  Where have I got it wrong and right on the steps, – because I have it both ways.

Here are some approaches that I use to engage and learn from:

Reconciliation: The False Promise of Trudeau’s Sunny Ways: Under the Liberals, statements of moral feeling have been elevated to a governing strategy

…What appeared to be a sweeping transformation was, in fact, a skilful technique for managing the status quo: everything would appear to change in order for things to remain the same. It was the changeless change that the Liberals so excelled in. The outcome would be stamped as reconciliation but would, in fact, be what Indigenous peoples had been fighting in each generation: being consigned to small land bases, shorn of any say over developments in their traditional territories, with the right to administer their own poverty. This relationship wouldn’t be nation-to-nation. It would be nation-to-municipalization. Nation-to-glorified-reservation. Nation-to-dressed-up-subjugation. …

Yellowhead Institute

…For too long, the relationship between First Nation peoples and Canadians has been characterized by inertia: the same old, paternalistic and racist policies and the corresponding apathy and neglect. Yet, the resistance of Indigenous peoples continues to grow and today, there is an acceptance on behalf of governments and Canadians that change is required. This is a tremendous opportunity. The challenge is ensuring the direction of change is towards the transformational. Yellowhead Institute can play an important role here, scrutinizing government policy, advocating for the rights of First Nation peoples, and models of change that support First Nation jurisdiction. …

        Russell Diabo

…Since the federal election of 2015, the Trudeau government has embarked on a top-down, nontransparent approach to federal Indigenous policy. There are reportedly 40 to 50 “exploratory tables” with Indigenous groups. We don’t know the topics or with whom the federal government is holding discussions, but these discussions are supposed to feed into an equally opaque Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples.

The discussion results are to be presented to a “bilateral mechanism” — federal cabinet committees based on political agreements with three national Indigenous organizations representing the Inuit, Métis and the Assembly of First Nations, a Chiefs’ organization. This stealth approach to change policy and law bypasses the legitimate rights holders: the Indigenous peoples. They are the ones who have a right to self-determination, not the national Indigenous leadership groups. …

        Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization

…Now that we have proven that we will not accept annihilation, we find ourselves in an era of reconciliation. Reconciliation? Like many of my sisters and brothers, I have trouble understanding what it is that we are trying to reconcile. Is the time for fighting over? Have we come through to the other side of the nightmare that is history? Have we decolonized this country? Reconciliation: the invitation from Canada to share in the spoils of our nations’ subjugation and dispossession. What a tainted gift, and such a false promise. Reconciling with colonialism cannot heal the wounds the colonizers have wrought on our collective existence. The essential harm of colonization is that the living relationship between our people and our land has been severed. By fraud, abuse, violence and sheer force of numbers, white society has forced us into the situation of being refugees and trespassers in our own homelands and we are prevented from maintaining the physical, spiritual and cultural relationships necessary for our continuation as nations. …

Dennis McPherson

Indian on the Lawn: How are Research Partnerships with Aboriginal Peoples Possible?

… The culture is then, in a sense, transforming itself in a normal and healthy way. In my own research I have found that underlying the diversity of Native American cultures is a pattern of Indigenous thought that is itself a form of transformative philosophy. (19) When Native researchers write about their own cultures they are not only transforming those cultures, they are also transforming themselves, for they are given the opportunity to discover and transform their own prejudgments. As Crusius notes, “we cannot even know our own history, the complex conventions we have internalized; for the most part we can only live it/them, for we are it/them.” (20) Native researchers in learning more about themselves by writing about their own culture are keeping that culture alive by actually making the culture conscious of itself. …

More suggestions?  Please add to comments section, thanks.

The planned Social Welfare Cuts and the Recovery Model; anti stigma and policy on the Social Determinants of Health are set back, stumble

Editorials of the summer from the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal, St. Catherine’s Standard and Toronto Star seek to sort out the good and bad of the expected income benefits policy reforms by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.  While there is the potential of discussion sounding too political on government decisions, there are also facts about these actions that impact on the decades of building effective resources to advance the Recovery Model, but how to find them?

Groups like the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) have sifted and tried to sort out the meaning, from the early days of the announcement of the cuts. Still it is hard to know, what the plan and policy direction will result in.  One comment on a post I received was from an ODSP participant on a ministry advisory committee who disputed the description of ISAC of the new criteria for admission to ODSP .  Fair enough then that much of policy is a work in progress, but a few things clarified for me when I looked at the summer editorials.

The beginning of the editorials initially focus on the cut of the Ontario Basic Income pilots which I dismissed to myself as more of an aspiration concept in the first place rather than province wide policy and an unsurprising ideological conservative/liberal fight on how to address poverty.

But then came  the explanation of admission criteria changes to ODSP:

… And a plan to change the definition of disability for those seeking support under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) threatens to force thousands of people with mental illness, HIV, multiple sclerosis and other episodic disabilities onto Ontario Works, a program with much lower benefits.

The province says a narrower definition is needed to align more closely with definitions used in federal income-support programs. But this makes no sense when Ottawa is broadening its understanding of disability to coincide with new federal accessibility legislation.

Then news of the income claw-back plan:

… The other change we are told is coming in December involves rules around the amount of money people on welfare can keep when they work before facing benefit claw-backs. The increase to $300 from $200 is helpful. But hiking the claw-back rate from 50 per cent to 75 per cent is hardly an incentive for people to find more work.

Here is the link to the editorial: (hopefully no paywall)

Related image

(Graphic from:

The culmination of these points helps to clear the policy direction fog, I and maybe others are experiencing. Our efforts: individual, organizational, the national commission on mental health reform; stumble and have set backs.  My question is how do we as advocates maintain recovery approaches to care amongst the politics and fog surrounding policy and government operations?

The Mental Health Commission’s Out of the Shadows – laid out goals that involve multiple layers, dare I say intersections of government levels and civil society.  And it is not as if other levels and moments of government are not setting back the Recovery Model.

For example:

  • I think of the City of Ottawa social services branch cutting bus passes for people living in psychiatric boarding homes – to the point of only allowing people to be able to ask staff for a bus ticket for medical appointments only. Clearly the fog surrounds us where ever we stand in the system.
  • I think of the minimum wage legislation of a few years ago, that helped a client I work with, who celebrated the value of his efforts yet; set him falling backwards when the policy was not connected to provincial housing policy— his rent geared to income apartment, thus owing $ and ultimately being negatively impacted in the long term.

The answer to my query is likely, “just keep chipping at it.” But it sure would be useful to aim for systems discussions of the whole, rather than perpetuating the fractured, siloed approach, the very approach that our leaders are aiming to address.

Dennis McPherson presentation to Lakehead University law school, “Indian on the Lawn, thirty years of reflection”

This presentation to the Lakehead University Law School, dean search committee, by candidate Dennis McPherson delves in depth, on research of the role of Law/Education and Indigenous Peoples, is worth an hour of your time if you are seeking to address the ideas of reconciliation.

See the video of the presentation

Background on:

Bora Laskin Faculty of Law Decanal Search

Lakehead University is conducting an extensive Search for the Dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, to take office by July 2019 and invites expressions of interest, applications and nominations.

The Search for the Dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is well underway and we are welcoming two candidates on campus next week.

As part of the selection process, there will be an opportunity for interested persons to attend a Public Presentation with each candidate.

Learn more here: