ISARC History

The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) is a provincial network of faith groups working together for greater social justice. ISARC was born out of the hope that together a coalition of faith groups could contribute to new public policies based upon greater justice and dignity for Ontarians marginalised by poverty.

In 1986 the Ontario government appointed an independent Social Assistance Review Committee (SARC) to study, consult, and make recommendations on the future of welfare. ISARC’s original mandate was to provide advice to that Committee. In the past decades, in concert with many other concerned groups, our coalition has advocated in support of SARC’s recommendations for an adequate, accessible, fair, and accountable social assistance system. ISARC has moved beyond reform of the system to name the causes of impoverishment and injustice.

Our coalition brings together representatives and members of faith groups to address public policies on issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness in Ontario. ISARC meets and works with leaders from all political parties to support and develop legislation that will provide help to those most in need.

Our coalition has hosted province-wide hearings, held consultations and briefings, made presentations to legislative committees, and developed publications and resources that give a voice to low income people.

“When anyone is hungry while others have too much to eat, when anyone has no shelter while others live in luxury, or when anyone lives in poverty while others enjoy affluence, justice is not present. Where justice is not present, the quality of all our lives and communities disappears.” This central message, shared by religious communities throughout the world, inspires people of faith to respond to our neighbours in need.

Justice is never complete nor done in the abstract, apart from individuals and communities. ISARC believes that people who care about the future can work together, so that a greater sense of justice is realized.

Our Values

Human Dignity

The right of all people and their communities to be treated with justice, love, compassion, and respect, and their responsibility to treat others likewise. 

Social Equity

The right of all people to adequate access to basic resources, to full participation in the life and decision-making of their communities.

Mutual Responsibility

The obligation of communities to care and share with their people, ensuring that basic needs are met.

Fiscal Fairness

The right of all people, communities, and institutions to fair fiscal treatment and the responsibility of all to contribute fairly for the well-being of all.

Ecological Sustainability

The obligation of communities to practice responsible stewardship of the earth and its environment, so that creation might be preserved for generations to come.

Economic Equity

The right of all people and communities to adequate access to the resources necessary for full lives, including access to worthwhile work, fair employment considerations, and our communal responsibilities to use such resources responsibly.

Faith Groups

More than two dozen faith groups representing the world’s major faith traditions are members of ISARC, including Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Muslims. Christian denominations active in our organization include Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Quakers, Salvationists and the United Church of Canada. Two Unitarian organizations are members. Our membership includes worshipping communities and cultural and charitable organizations.

Buddhist community represented by:
West End Buddhist Cultural Centre

Christian community represented by:
Anglican Church of Canada
Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto
Sisters of St. Joseph, London
Sisters of Providence, Kingston
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (Eastern Synod)
Mennonite Central Committee, Ontario
Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Presbyterian Church in Canada
The Salvation Army of Canada and Bermuda
Society of Friends (Quakers)
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (Ontario Regional Council)
United Church of Canada

Jewish community represented by:
Canadian Council for Reform Judaism
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
Darchei Noam Reconstructionist Synagogue
Solel Congregation of Mississauga
Temple Sinai
Toronto Board of Rabbis

Hindu community represented by:
Canadian Hindu Heritage
Centre Council of Canadian Hindus

Muslim community represented by:
Canadian Council of Imams
Canadian Islamic Congress
Islamic Humanitarian Service

Unitarian community represented by:
Canadian Unitarian Council
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Unitarian Universalists

buddhists
West End Buddhist Cultural Centre
anglican church (national)
Anglican Church of Canada
canadian baptists
Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto
sisters of st. joseph
Sisters of St. Joseph, London
Ontario Catholic bishops
Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
quakers
Society of Friends (Quakers)
israeli & jewish affairs centre
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
Toronto Board of Rabbis
islamic congress
Canadian Islamic Congress
Unitarian Universalists
providence sisters
Sisters of Providence, Kingston
pentecostals
Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (Ontario Regional Council)
jewish synagogue
Darchei Noam Reconstructionist Synagogue
hindu heritage
Canadian Hindu Heritage Centre
unitarians for justice
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Holy Blossom Temple
lutheran church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (Eastern Synod)
presbyterians
Presbyterian Church in Canada
united church of canada
The United Church of Canada
solel jewish congregation
Solel Congregation of Mississauga
Council of Canadian Hindus
Council of Canadian Hindus
islamic humanitarian service
Islamic Humanitarian Service
mennonite central committee
Mennonite Central Committee, Ontario
sally ann
The Salvation Army of Canada
Canadian Council for Reform Judaism
temple sinai
Temple Sinai
imams' council
Canadian Council of Imams
canadian unitarian council
Canadian Unitarian Council

Interested in adding your community? Email Us.

Executive Members

Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle, Chair
Rabbi Shalom Schachter, Employment and Labour Working Group
Rev. Alex Wilson, Housing Working Group
Elin Goulden, Member-at-large
Jack Panozzo, Communications Director
Brian Beal, Treasurer

Steering Committee

Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle (Chair), United Church of Canada
Imam Habeeb Alli, Canadian Council of Imams
Major Colin Bain, Salvation Army of Canada
Arliene Botnick, Solel Congregation of Mississauga
Jeffrey Brown, Canadian Unitarian Council
Ryan Friedman, Darchei Noam Reconstructionist Synagogue
Greg deGroot-Maggetti, Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario
Nathan Gilbert, Darchei Noam Reconstructionist Synagogue
Elin Goulden, Anglican Diocese of Toronto
Rev. Michael Hackbusch, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Imam Abdul Hai Patel, Ansaar Foundation
Val Elliott Hyman, Darchei Noam Reconstructionist Synagogue
Tara Kainer, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul
Roger Lawler, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
Imam Irshad Osman, Muslim Community
Jim Paddon, Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Jack Panozzo, Catholic Charities
Rabbi Jordan Helfman, Holy Blossom Temple
Rabbi Shalom Schachter, Toronto Board of Rabbis
Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, Council of Canadian Hindus
Rev. Alex Wilson, Presbyterian Church in Canada
Margaret Flynn, Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Danny Bourne, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition 
Tel: (647) 563-5203

coordinator@isarc.ca

MAKE A DONATION
Send your cheque to:

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