Our Mission

The SPCO uses local evidence to encourage coordinated action to address poverty and marginalization throughout Oxford County.

Our Vision

Wellbeing for every resident of Oxford County.

Our Values

Respectful collaboration.
Excellence in the quality of our work.
Inclusive community engagement.
Increased community capacity and resilience.

Social Planning

Council News

& Announcements

Provincial Election 2018-Put Poverty on the Agenda

What candidate and party will you vote for in our provincial election on June 7, 2018? Check out the 5 social issue documents on jobs, post secondary education, child care, affordable housing and transit written by Apathy is Boring and Social Planning Toronto to help inform your decision.  The editorial below written by the Social Planning Council Oxford highlights why poverty and equity is everyone’s business.  We have also attached written responses from two of the candidates who responded to our request of all candidates on how they will work to address poverty if elected:  Tara King from the New Democratic Party and Chris Swift from the Libertarian Party.

Social Planning Council Oxford Editorial:                                                                                                                                             Our Collective Voice-Voting on June 7th for the Elimination of Poverty

In an era where opinions, policies and politics often feel polarized and sometimes even hurtful, can we rise above and use the June 7th provincial election as an opportunity to shift from individualism to collectivism and use our ballots and our voices to work towards an Ontario (and Oxford) that is fair, equitable and inclusive.  We need to ask our candidates how they will work to eliminate poverty and inequities.  And if they are willing to commit to policies that continue to strengthen supports for the province’s most vulnerable residents and build an Ontario (and Oxford) where everyone belongs.

Too many Ontarians live in poverty and too many are struggling to make ends meet.  In Oxford County alone in 2017 it was estimated that 11,835 residents were living in low income with 4,270 of those individuals unable to meet basic needs (Oxford Community Health Report, November 2017).

Oxford County has progressively declared that as a community we will reach zero poverty by 2050 but the County, local municipalities, agencies, community groups, and businesses can only do things that are within their power such as pay a living wage, raise awareness about predatory lending, offer free tax assistance, support the ODSP application process, increase affordable housing; so many evidenced based reforms require the will and action of the provincial government.  There is a need for policy at the provincial level of government that supports the elimination (not the reduction) of poverty.  Many policy strides and income security reforms have occurred in the province that are essential steps towards poverty reduction: minimum wage increases, piloting of a basic income, free college and university tuition for students from low to moderate income families, drug and dental coverage for children, full day kindergarten and changes to welfare rules.

However, more can be done and if we do not speak up with our ballots and our voices in this election, Ontario, the collective we, can lose the gains that have been made and possibly see even more suffering.

Social Planning Council Oxford supports the Ontario for All Coalition’s (ontarioforall.ca) call on all parties to commit to end poverty, reduce gender, racial and income inequity, and create an Ontario where everyone has hope for a brighter future.  The following 5 priorities developed by the Coalition are fundamental for each party to have on their agenda and when voting we ask that you consider if and how each party will implement each priority.

  1. Create pathways out of poverty by ensuring that everyone has income security and the supports they need to live with dignity.
  2. Build an economy with fair and equitable opportunities and decent work for all.
  3. Ensure affordable, appropriate and safe housing is available to all.
  4. Invest in inclusive, healthy communities with affordable and quality childcare and public education, pharmacare and dental programs, transit and transportation, and community programs and services.
  5. Fully implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission regarding reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.

The often quiet or unheard voices of people living in poverty are rarely listened to or even considered.  If elected officials are hired to listen to their constituents then that means all constituents-not just the loudest, not just those that make it out to the polls, not just those that supported them by voting for them-everyone.

Ending poverty is everyone’s business. It robs people of their potential, costs us all too much, and undermines what we stand for: a place where everyone has a fair chance at a good life.

In this election, we all need to talk a little bit louder about poverty.


SPCO Welcomes New Executive Director-Stephanie Ellens-Clark

Social Planning Council Oxford is pleased to welcome Stephanie Ellens-Clark to the organization as our new Executive Director.  Stephanie grew up in Oxford and is happy to be coming back to the community to work and act together on important social issues.

Stephanie is a social worker by trade who specialized in her Bachelor and Master of Social Work in macro level practice-policy, social planning, community development.  She has spent her career doing various types of system level planning, community facilitation, evaluation and research and actually started her career at the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries.

She then worked at Region of Waterloo Public Health as a Planner for 9 years and then moved to the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) as Manager of Planning where she collaborated with community partners to improve the health system by leading the health equity portfolio, planning an older adult strategy and dementia capacity plan and supporting mental health and addictions planning.  Volunteering is also a big part of Stephanie’s life as she recently wrapped up an 8 year term on the board of directors of a non-profit that serves older adults.

Stephanie works hard to balance all this with her family life – being a wife and mom of a 5 year old and twin 2 year olds.  Her family lives out on a rural property where they are attempting to have a hobby farm with fish, maple syrup, ducks, chickens and soon to arrive lambs.  She is very excited to be joining and leading this amazing organization that aligns with her passion and values.

Stephanie can be reached at stephanie.ellens-clark@spcoxford.ca .

Fact Sheet on Predatory Lending

The Social Planning Council – Oxford is committed to providing the citizens of Oxford County information and education to improve the wellbeing of all members of our community, as in this case, about income inequality. Alternative financial institutions, often called payday loans, engage in predatory lending practices. This report is designed to provide information about predatory lending and the effects of alternative financial institutions on vulnerable populations in Oxford County.

The full report can be accessed here:

Fact Sheet on Predatory Lending

Living Wage Campaign 2017

A Living Wage is Not Minimum Wage

A living wage is not the same as the minimum wage, which is the legal minimum all employers must pay. The living wage reflects what earners need to have a basic but acceptable standard of living, based on the actual costs of living in a specific community. The living wage is calculated as the hourly rate at which a household can meet its basic needs, once government transfers have been added to the family’s income and deductions have been subtracted.

The full report can be accessed here:

Living Wage Campaign 2017

Living Wage Report Dec. 2017

Wellbeing Defined

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing defines wellbeing as “the presence of the highest possibility of quality of life in its full breadth of expression focused on but not necessarily exclusive to: good living standards, robust health, a sustainable environment, vital communities, an educated populace, balanced time use, high levels of democratic participation, and access to and participation in leisure and culture” – (Canadian Index of Wellbeing, 2016).

The full report can be accessed here:

Living Wage Report Dec. 2017

Youth Voice Report: Mental Health & Suicide

Released in September 2016 by the Social Planning Council Oxford, and funded partly by the Time 2 Change Minds (T2CM) Fund through the Canadian Mental Health Association Oxford County Branch and Woodstock Hospital. The Youth Voice Report: Mental Health & Suicide thematically outlines the issues that have come to the surface in the ways suicide, mental health, and related topics are confronted by our youth. The full report can be accessed here:

Youth Voice Report: Mental Health & Suicide

A summary fact sheet of this report can be found below:


Challenging the myths: Refugees in Canada
What is myth and what is fact? Our new publication separates it out for you: Challenging the myths: Refugees in Canada
Food for Change
Have you ever wondered why Food Banks, created as a temporary measure, are still going strong today? Simply put, because while they put food in bellies, they do not eliminate food insecurity (otherwise known as lack of adequate access to healthy, culturally appropriate, affordable food). How can we move the mark from charity to dignity? Our new publication, Food for Change: From Charity to Dignity, gives some ideas.
Oxford County is ready for change. There are many groups working towards making the shift from charity to dignity. Will you join us?
Social Planning Council Oxford

447 Hunter Street Woodstock, ON Canada N4S 4G7 phone: (226) 228-0539 email: info@spcoxford.ca

About Us

The goal of the Social Planning Council Oxford is to bring people together to actively participate in social development to improve the quality of life of Oxford County residents.


spcoxford Funders