Justice and Jubilee: CPJ Backgrounder on Poverty

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Poverty is a significant concern in Canada, one that has not diminished over the past few decades in good economic times and bad. In fact, the rate of poverty has remained consistent, while the poverty depth has increased. Poverty is a multi-faceted problem which encompasses many personal, spiritual and policy issues. Citizens for Public Justice has addressed the issue of poverty for many years, beginning with its work on economic structures and social rights and responsibilities, and moving to its work on child poverty a decade ago.

In recent years, CPJ has focused on poverty reduction strategies, calling for a federal poverty reduction strategy, and the related issue of livable incomes, which led to CPJ’s position on Guaranteed Livable Income. CPJ has also begun to work on the issues of housing and homelessness and child care.

While CPJ is a policy organization that seeks to offer insightful analysis of existing problems and constructive policy alternatives, our work is faith-based. We seek to take into account the values and principles that have led to structural or societal problems, and to critique those perspectives from a public justice perspective. Our public justice perspective emphasizes the responsibility of citizens and governments to work for justice and the common good. It is this belief that motivates our work on poverty and all of its related issues.

Our foundational backgrounder on poverty is intended to be a resource for those who are wondering about the faith basis of CPJ’s work on poverty, highlighting our understanding of the Biblical call to justice and a Christian vision of economics. It also explains our public justice perspective on poverty, and the moral obligation of governments to take leadership on poverty, as well as the responsibility of every person and every social institution to eradicate poverty.

CPJ works in many coalitions and with people of different faiths on the issues of poverty. We are willing to pursue common goals with those of different perspectives. Our emphasis on values and our unique perspective of public justice is something that we bring to these shared efforts. This paper offers insight into our values and perspective. It can also be a useful tool for small groups to explore the issue of poverty and to understand the values that perpetuate poverty, as well as the values and principles that call us to action on poverty.

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