Upcoming Events

Stay tuned for upcoming events.

Guest speakers

Tom Cooper, Director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and co-founder of the Ontario Living Wage Network

Shannon Down, Executive Director of Waterloo Region Community Legal Services

Sujit Choudhry, Lawyer, Constitutional Law

Read more about our speakers

About the forum

After three years of holding our Religious Leader’s Forum online, we are once again gathering in person at Queens Park to share stories and insights and hear the wisdom of guest speakers. It is an opportunity for us to renew the fellowship of our interfaith connections and to network with colleagues who join us from across the province.

This year, our theme is “Returning to Humanity: Human Rights and Dignity through Income Security and Housing” and we will be joined by Rabbi Ryan Leszner of Darchei Noam Reconstructionist Synagogue who will provide our opening theological reflection.

For more than 30 years ISARC has examined provincial social policy and legislation and raised concerns about income security issues and housing and homelessness.

Recently, as the economic gap has grown even wider and more and more people are pushed to the margins, it has become painfully clear that deplorable rates and inadequate programs are symptoms of an even greater challenge: an unravelling of basic human rights for unhoused and unemployed citizens of our province.

Increasingly a distinction is being made between “citizens” and “homeless people.” Dismantling of encampments, indifference to the basic needs of the most vulnerable and efforts to force migration of homeless or newcomer populations out of neighbourhoods and municipalities has entrenched an attitude of viewing the poorest among us as “problems” to be dealt with.

Currently the “criminalization of the homeless” in BC and Ontario has become part of an investigation by the United Nations.  It is time for us to look beyond rates and housing programs to examine underlying attitudes and tolerance of human rights violations which are affecting public policy and social programs.

We invite you as you prepare for our Religious Leader’s Forum to review your local situation and come prepared to share insights about what is happening in your municipality. We will be sharing the results of the 2023 ISARC Advocacy Survey at the event, which we encourage you to fill out here. The survey has been extended until Friday November 10th, 2023.

As always, we find that when we come together to share hard truths, we discover a renewed energy to work together for justice and change. We look forward to welcoming you on November 23rd!

Recent Events

Raise The Rates events: November 2022

ISARC Annual Religious Leader’s Forum (Online)

November 23rd, 2022

This live interactive online event explored the ways in which faith communities can advocate for social assistance supports in Ontario. There was a theological reflection from Rev. Dr. Brice Balmer, and a keynote presentation by Devorah Kobluk – Senior Policy Analyst for ISAC (Income Security Advocacy Centre). We heard from participants of our Raise the Rates Interfaith Fast, and discussed how we could engage our communities around these issues.

Our Speakers:

Keynote Address: Devorah Kobluk – Senior Policy Analyst for ISAC (Income Security Advocacy Centre)

Theological Reflection: Rev. Dr. Brice Balmer

Raise The Rates Interfaith Fast

November 14th – 18th, 2022

Justice, equity, and compassion are at the heart of many faiths, and it’s important for us as an interfaith community to support our most vulnerable neighbours who are surviving on inadequate social assistance supports. This event was an intentional week of prayer and fasting. Participants were given several participation options, and faith communities contributed prayers and reflections that were shared daily to our participants and on our social media feeds.  

Housing: The Key to Health

ISARC’s Annual Religious Leader’s Forum 2021 (Online)
November 24th, 2021, 12:30pm – 3:30pm ET

Free Registration
Donations Accepted

This live interactive online event will explore the case for a affordable housing in Ontario. Join us for a presentation from keynote speaker Ricardo Tranjan – Senior Researcher for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Take part in guided breakout panel discussions on Housing, Long Term Care, and the rent component of social assistance, and add your voice to this meaningful conversation.

Register now to secure your spot, and to receive the full ISARC Forum 2021 digital package.

Registration is by donation. Please consider donating an amount of your chosen comfort. Donation amounts cover the costs of speaker engagement, event administration, production, and personnel that make this event possible. ISARC thanks you in advance for your generosity.

Our Speakers:

Keynote Address: Ricardo Tranjan – Senior Researcher for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Theological Reflection: Rabbi Yael Splansky – Senior Rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple and current President of the Toronto Board of Rabbis.

OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH – Overcoming Ontario’s Poverty Pandemic
Written and edited by: Murray MacAdam

March 16, 11:30-12:30

This free online book launch celebrated the publication and release of Overcoming Ontario’s Poverty Pandemic. We heard from featured faith leaders, community organizers, and low-income activists, and discovered how to take action to help our low-income neighbours.

Select Speakers:
Bishop Michael Oulton – Anglican Bishop of Ontario
Bishop Douglas Crosby – Bishop of Hamilton
Select Voices From the Margins participants with lived experience
And more

Book Abstract:
Another pandemic was already disrupting for nearly two million Ontarians before COVID-19 struck: poverty. What did it mean for day-to-day life? What impact has the pandemic had ? Low-income people spoke about their challenges at community hearings across Ontario, organized by the ISARC interfaith anti-poverty coalition. Their powerful first-hand accounts and proposals for action to improve their lives, make Overcoming Ontario’s Poverty Pandemic a vital resource for education and advocacy.

ISARC Religious Leaders Forum 2020

Forum report by Murray MacAdam

Click to expand

Watch the official event video

Video Times:
Theological Reflection – Rev. Lois Wilson (7:26)
Keynote Speaker – Sheila Regehr (20:55)
Keynote Speaker – Jamie Swift (44:09)
Keynote Q&A (1:11:20)

Recent News

Read ISARC’s recommendations to the Ontario government ahead of the 2022 provincial budget. – 2021 ISARC Religious Leaders Forum

Read the Written Submission

Read about our latest Forum “Housing: The Key to Health”. Article written by long-standing ISARC Executive member, Elin Goulden. ISARC’s 2021 Religious Leaders Forum took place on November 24th, 2021.

Read the Summary Report

This article by Murray MacAdam reports on ISARC’s first online religious leaders forum that took place on November 25th, 2020.

Read the Report

This letter outlines recommends for the Ontario Government’s Commission into Long-Term Care, outlining guidelines to ensure a high standard in the conduct of its mandate. 

Endorse Here

On June 25th, 2020, the Rev. Alex Wilson and the Rev. Susan Eagle presented ISARC’s submission on Bill 184 before the provincial Standing Committee on Social Policy. 

Join the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) in sending a quick e-mail about Bill 184 to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark, here.


Social Media

Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition 
Tel: (647) 450 -5203


Send your cheque to:

c/o United Church of Canada – Mission Through Finance 
3250 Bloor Street West, Suite 200 
Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4