Episcopal Letter

Episcopal Statement: Ottawa/Gatineau Tornadoes

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The tornadoes and severe thunderstorms last Friday tested our perseverance to deal with our environment and our abilities to cope. Without loss of life and six tornadoes later, many of us lost hydro, some lost or had damage to their homes, and there was much destruction. Thanks to the efforts of the City of OttawaHydroOttawa, and HydroOne, agencies such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, and countless acts of generosity and kindness on the part of many citizens of our communities, we ‘weathered the storm’ and discovered ourselves to be a resilient and loving community.

As people of faith in a loving God, we discovered the ability to respond to those in need, including ourselves. The City of Ottawa has offered many opportunities for people to volunteer; the Red Cross is receiving contributions for its ongoing work; our congregations who have people affected by the tornadoes have been generous in their support.

What can we do? Volunteer with the City of Ottawa if you are inclined. Contribute to the costs of the Red Cross and Salvation Army. There is a Facebook page for coordinating donations/assistance for Dunrobin residents. The Ottawa Senators have set up a GoFundMe campaign through which the Ottawa Senators Foundation will match the first $50,000 raised by the campaign. Support your parish in their outreach to individuals affected. Pray, and give thanks to our God who has given us hands and feet and minds and hearts to respond to those in need.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. John H. Chapman
Bishop of Ottawa

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Homelessness and Affordable Housing: A Municipal Responsibility

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Ontario residents go to the polls on October 22 this year to elect their municipal governments. In advance of the election, I urge Ottawa voters to discuss the issue of homelessness and affordable housing with their candidates. I ask them to consider the most vulnerable in our society, the poor and the homeless. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Proverbs 31:8).

Ottawa and the surrounding region, like most major cities across the country, is facing a crisis of homelessness. Despite having a ten-year Housing and Homelessness Plan, last year the city saw a 5% increase in the number of people requiring emergency shelter. The largest increase in homelessness was among families with children, who now account for over half of the bed nights used in Ottawa’s shelters. This crisis is fuelled by severe shortages of affordable housing, extreme poverty for people with minimum wage jobs or on social assistance, inadequate funding for mental health and addictions treatment, and a failure to focus on early intervention and prevention of homelessness.

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Bishop Urges Ottawa Voters to Make Housing a Priority

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The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa is urging the federal and Ontario governments to give increased priority to programs that help the most vulnerable in the community.

In a public statement the bishop, The Right Reverend John Chapman, calls on Ottawa voters to make homelessness and affordable housing an issue in the June 7 election campaign. He says the Diocese is committed to its Community Ministries which operate Cornerstone Housing for Women, Centre 454, St. Luke’s Table, and The Well drop-in centres. “We cannot resolve the issues of poverty and homelessness alone,” the bishop said. “They require major support from all levels of government.”

The bishop’s statement coincides with a submission by the Diocese encouraging the federal government to strengthen its proposals for a human rights-based approach to housing.

While the federal proposals are commendable, the submission says, they don’t actually provide for legislation that will protect Canada’s most vulnerable, including indigenous people and women.

“We are particularly concerned that women’s equal right to adequate housing be reflected in all aspects of the National Housing Strategy,” the submission says. It cites evidence from a national advisory committee that existing definitions of homelessness discriminate against women because of their unique needs.

Certification through legislation of a human rights-based approach is vital to the effectiveness of a national strategy, the submission says. Bishop Chapman joined last fall with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA) and the United Nations Special Representative on the Right to Adequate Housing to call on Canada to meet its obligation as a signatory to the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Bishop Chapman said Ottawa, like most large Ontario cities, is facing a crisis of homelessness. Solutions require the support and cooperation of all orders of government.

“We look to the next Ontario government to support a portable National Housing Benefit in addition to, not in place of, existing provincial programs.”

Episcopal Letter: Homelessness Sunday

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How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods
and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
– 1 John 3:17

Dear friends,

As Christians, we are called to love our neighbours and to help those in need. Among those we are called to love and help are the vulnerable in our communities, many of whom are directly impacted by the homelessness and affordable housing crisis that is ongoing throughout our province.

On April 22, Good Shepherd Sunday, I encourage you all to join me, and Anglicans throughout our province, to set aside time to pray, learn, and act, in response to the ongoing homelessness crisis in our midst.

I am asking you all to use the prayers and resources provided by the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario as they reflect our common concern for compassion, and to make us mindful of the marginalised members of our communities. I remain,

Yours in the faith of Christ,

The Rt. Rev. John H. Chapman
Bishop of Ottawa

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