PILLAR: Social Justice
In January 2015, the Institute sponsored a conference in Collingwood, titled “A Call to Action: Social Justice Redefined”, to discuss social justice priorities and better ways that regional municipalities can work together on issues affecting the quality of life of residents in Southern Georgian Bay.
Participants and guest speakers presented and discussed gaps, success stories, potential actions and ideas for social justice in the region in the areas of food security, housing, income security, mental health, seniors, youth and transportation.
The primary outcome of this conference was a recognition that successes in social justice can only be achieved through strong collaboration, sharing of resources, heightened community awareness, continued commitment and further dialogue.
The Institute prepared a final “white paper” report on the details and outcomes of the conference. The following social justice priorities over the next three years were identified:
Create a regional Food Coalition and work with local food banks to assess food security issues and actions, and develop more sustainable models for responding to these issues. Promote community gardens, food co-operatives, community and mobile kitchens and school gardens.
Establish a Regional Task Force to address housing issues. Increase awareness of these issues. Develop a business plan, identifying potential land and developers for affordable housing.
Focus economic development activities on attracting employers. Educate business leaders on employing individuals who face barriers. Encourage and support local businesses to do better at providing fair wages.
Increase support and develop coordinated services, such as a Senior Day Centre, personal care, pet care, etc. Create opportunities for youth-senior connections. Expand Home for Life regionally. Establish seniors’ training and support programs that teach, coach and empower.
Health and Wellbeing
Lobby for prevention, crisis services and education. Promote and make accessible the Community Survivor Project service, walk-in opportunities and a Mental Health First Aid course.
Set up volunteer delivery services, connecting people who have time and a vehicle with people who need transportation. (Non-profit Uber model) Promote carpooling via social media. Assess community needs via LHIN.
Support collaboration between youth-focused agencies (such as multiple drop-in centre options). Expand our definition of “youth” – provincial and federal services now define youth to age 30.