Representatives from various faiths participated in meetings and discussions on poverty, 7-8 March 2011 in Ottawa. These included reflections with the four major federal political parties, giving special focus to the recommendations in the November 2010 report, Federal Poverty Reduction Plan: Working in Partnership towards Reducing Poverty in Canada. The report had been issued by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of People with Disabilities (HUMA).
Among those participating was the Most Reverend François Lapierre, P.M.É., Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe and a member of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). The interfaith event also involved members of other Christian Churches and communities, as well as Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Baha’i. Mr. Jonas Abromaitis, Secretary of the CCCB Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue was present, as well as Dr. François Poitras, Secretary of the CCCB Commission for Justice and Peace.
At the end of the event, the interfaith representatives issued a declaration which invited the government to “partner with us in ending poverty.” “We call upon government to champion public policies that defend everyone’s rights to dignity and abundant life,” the declaration stated.
The interfaith participants also committed themselves to launching a national conversation about poverty, and to deepening and multiplying commitments to alleviate poverty. “It’s time for leadership,” they insisted. “It’s time to act.”
The interfaith event was organized by the Canadian Council of Churches, the Canadian Interfaith Delegation from the World Religions Summit 2010, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and Dignity for All.