As Toronto’s cost of living continues to skyrocket, and our vital public services face significant cuts, hunger has become inevitable for the hundreds of thousands of residents struggling to live on low incomes.
That’s why we’re so proud to announce the launch of The Stop’s Economic Justice Project (EJP) this September. Located at the intersection of our Financial Empowerment and Community Advocacy programs, EJP works with people who have lived experience of poverty to ease their personal financial stresses, identify systemic causes, and advocate for broader change.
What’s Economic Justice?
Economic justice is an aspect of social justice. According to this great summary from the Encyclopedia of Social Work, it focuses on how income, wealth, and opportunity are distributed to some and excluded from others. Economic justice is concerned with both individual and group rights, and includes recognition and analysis of the specific impacts that racial and gender identity can have on a person’s ability to access and save money.
How EJP works
The Stop’s EJP program is anchored by a 16-week Adult/Popular Education course that explores the connections between micro (personal) and macro (social, political) economic issues while it also builds participants’ advocacy skills.
For example, a participant could start the program with questions about how they can access a specific government benefit. As we determine their eligibility, we might pair this with a case study on the scrapping of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. We could analyze how different groups have advocated against the cut, and practice writing our own press releases or op-eds to raise awareness how this policy change harms low-income people.
Each participant will leave the course with a deeper understanding of systemic economic challenges relevant to their community, and have the tools to engage in public advocacy around a chosen economic issue.
Following the training, six participants will be hired by The Stop as paid, part-time economic justice advocates (EJAs) to contribute their skills to like-minded advocacy campaigns across the city. They’ll be organizing with existing groups that are fighting root causes of poverty and engaging people with lived experience in meaningful and authentic ways.
Our vision for change
Informed by the work of Paulo Freire, the EJP approach is designed in service to liberation, social justice, and action.
We believe that personal and social transformation are inextricably bound. Through the program’s multi-level structure, participants build internal community and critical consciousness through a supportive, self-organizing collective.
We were also inspired by Networked Change in Canada, a recent report from the Broadbent Institute. It found that the most successful advocacy campaigns are “aligned with new sources of self-organized people power, while maintaining enough centralized structure to focus it on clear political and cultural targets.”
EJP will overlap with the larger social solidarity work The Stop is pursuing across programs and services, that strive to unite people of varying backgrounds and economic means in meaningful, equitable collaboration.
Questions about EJP? Contact Roxanne Futia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d like to express our deep gratitude to the Catherine Donnelly Foundation for supporting this work.
You can join them, and help The Stop launch more innovative programs like the Economic Justice Project.