Canadian churches for care and change in the time of COVID-19

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Matthew 25:40 - “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these among you, you did it to me.”

As Christians and churches committed to the Gospel we are required to prioritize the vulnerable over the demands of profit. We see more clearly than ever that our global economic system is not equipped to stop so that the vulnerable can be cared for in the face of real threats.

Therefore as churches and Christians we are asking Canadian citizens and all levels of Canadian governments create substantial change at this critical time.

We are asking for immediate ‘Jubilee’ actions which absolves debts while redistributing wealth. We live in a time of unprecedented abundance. There is enough to sustain us in this time. We ask for comprehensive measures of debt relief, supports for housing, forms of just taxation and wealth redistribution that can allow for stable livable wages and supports.

We ask that the movement of the most vulnerable be considered “essential.” We ask that Canada rescind its ban on asylum seekers. We ask that funds be allocated for emergency shelters or re-purposing hotels and that conditional pardons be granted that would aid in protecting the prison population.

We ask that the Government of Canada be especially attentive to the needs of Indigenous communities whose potential risk at this time is far greater than that of other Canadians. Due to the long-standing inadequacy of housing, water, medical services, and food security in First Nations, we believe that this pandemic has the potential to be especially devastating. We ask not only for intentional direction of resources to First Nations communities at this time, but a commitment to improving the conditions of reserves with respect to safe and clean water, housing, food, and medical care.  

We are asking the government to refrain from subsidizing oil companies that may never again be viable and were never environmentally sound. This would include a rolling decommission of active extraction with emergency funds channeled directly to laid off workers as well as in development of alternative energy economies and other employment retraining.

We are asking for a long-term vision as provinces and as a country that our budgets no longer be formed in response to corporate interest, but that all our responses to this pandemic and future policies bring wealth and economic interests in line with the basic needs of our society.

COVID-19 has already changed the global landscape. We are asking that we do not return to a system that was increasingly unjust and never sustainable.

We are fearful that responses to this crisis will all lead towards deeper entrenchment of old models and so we are asking for this change to begin now. We understand that such changes will include other changes in our lives. We are willing to seek, work for, and support such changes that can readily be seen as being in the interest of the most vulnerable people and resources in Canada.

In signing this document we are committed to the appropriate short-term action and long-term change outlined here. We are committed to continue learning and adapting as needed knowing this situation continues to evolve while remaining committed to fundamental principles of mutual aid, comprehensive social security, and caring for the earth and our most vulnerable populations.

This petition is a summary of an extended statement with further commentary, resources and future appendices. We encourage individuals and churches to read and study this document. The document can be found here.

Co-authored by
Rev David Driedger – Winnipeg (Mennonite)
Rev Dr Jane Barter – Winnipeg (Anglican)
John Samson Fellows - Winnipeg (Quaker)
Jude Claude – Winnipeg
Josiah Neufeld – Winnipeg