The mandate of the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee is to ensure effective and coordinated social advocacy efforts on public policy issues affecting the larger Jewish community and in particular, disadvantaged individuals, families and seniors in the Jewish community.
The Committee’s priority areas of action are:
- anti-poverty and social equity,
- housing and
- access to health care services.
In addition, the Committee also advocates for the protection rights for seniors, women, immigrants and refugees, as they intersect with the above priority areas.
The Committee’s primary approach to achieving goals within its priority areas is participation in concerted public efforts or campaigns organized by non-profit community group coalitions at the local, provincial and national level.
Poverty in the Montreal Jewish community
In 2011, it was estimated that 19.3% of the Montreal Jewish community lived below the poverty line. This number is expected to climb to 20.4% by 2021.
The youngest and oldest members of the Jewish community are among the populations most effected by poverty. In 2011, children (0-14 years old) and teenagers and young adults (15-24 years old) represented 21.8% and 22.1% respectively of the Jewish poor, while almost a quarter (24.6%) of Jewish seniors, 75 years an older were considered vulnerable and living in poverty.
This trend is expected to continue into the future. By 2021, child poverty will increase by 2.1%, reaching 23.9%, while an estimated 22.8% of Jewish teenagers and young adults will be living in poverty. Among the elder cohort of seniors, the percentage of individuals living in poverty will remain constant at 24.4%.
Our major challenge: the downloading of services onto community organizations and the family network
While community organizations and agencies occupy a valuable role in assisting individuals and families by providing vital short-term assistance, over the long-term, the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee operates from the perspective that it is ultimately the government’s responsibility to ensure that all Quebecers live with dignity and respect by providing strong, adequate and accessible public social programs and services.
Social advocacy issues, and by extension the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee, are critical to the Jewish community because they promote the cherished Jewish values of seeking tzedek (justice) and tikun olam (repairing the world). Whether a Jewish individual or family directly or indirectly experiences hardship, we have a collective responsibility to support and assist our community members. At the same time, we have a responsibility as full and integrated citizens of Quebec and Canada to hold our governments accountable and ensure that they create, fund, and deliver adequate social and economic policies, programs and services to end injustices, including poverty, and prevent them. Such action benefits both the Jewish community and the wider population.
How can I make a difference?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to comprehend how individual participation in a phone call campaign, letter writing initiative or a petition can impact social policies that affect an entire province or country.
Social advocacy work is inherently long-term and requires a high level of persistence. The record of the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee provides evidence of the fact that the cumulative impacts of repeated actions over time can produce meaningful change. By collaborating with Quebec-wide campaigns, the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee has been a part of successful efforts to:
- stop the closing of 10 Centre Locaux d’Emploi in Montreal,
- improve services offered to welfare applicants at the Centre Locaux d’Emploi
- fully index all welfare cheques
- increase funding for social housing in provincial and federal budgets
- hire additional Commissioners at the Rental Board to reduce long and unjust delays for a hearing
Involvement in these campaigns have also afforded the Federation CJA Social Advocacy Committee the opportunity to build relationships with organizations outside the Jewish community, thereby encouraging the involvement of the Jewish community in Quebec society as full and integrated Quebec citizens.
“In February 2011, I attended a rally outside the Rental Board as part of the “Régie du lentement” campaign, an ongoing effort to reduce delays for a hearing at the Rental Board. I was truly inspired by the commitment of the participants, who despite the frigid temperatures, were determined to raise awareness and exert pressure on the government to reduce hearing wait times from six weeks to 72 hours in urgent cases, and from 20+ months to three months in less-urgent cases. I had the opportunity to exchange with individuals that were subject to living in apartments with mold, cockroaches and without heating while waiting for their hearing date. The ice-fishing theme of this rally was particularly telling of the situation - participants were invited to try their luck, and symbolically “fish” for better access to justice!
“As a social worker, I often refer my clients to the Centre Locaux d’Emploi to apply for welfare benefits. It was not until I participated in the fax campaign asking the Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Services to improve services for welfare applicants at these Centres did I realize the treatment that some individuals receive. This campaign was critical in improving services for individuals applying for last resort financial assistance and ensuring that they are treated with dignity.”
For up to date information about social policy campaigns, please go to: facebook.com/FedCJASocialAdvocacyCom