Our Mission

The SPCO illuminates the realities of poverty and marginalization to shift understanding and inspire collaborative action for positive change.

Our Vision

Every resident in Oxford County experiences well-being and a sense of belonging.

Our Values

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

Social Planning

Council News

& Announcements

Tenants Speak Up: New Report Released and Event to Share the Results

Across Ontario, tenants are experiencing displacement as a result of the affordable housing crisis. With more renters in the market than ever before, low- and, increasingly, middle-income tenants are being displaced from their homes. Social Planning Council Oxford in partnership with other Social Planning Network of Ontario members and the University of Waterloo have just released a report “The Many Faces of Displacement” that helps us understand how displacement of tenants happens and its impact from the perspective of Ontario tenants (including Oxford tenants).

Consider reading the report and join us and the Oxford Tenant Support Network on November 22 at 5pm at the Harvey Woods Lofts (18 Vansittart Ave, Woodstock) to learn more at the “Understanding the Realities of Renting” Event.  We will share findings from the report on how people are forced out of their tenancies and how this impacts them and the rental market.  We will be discussing current advocacy efforts and learn about supports available.  All are invited to this community event.

2023 Social Justice Award Nominations are Open

The Social Planning Council Oxford (SPCO) hands out an annual Social Justice Award to recognize those who devote their time and energy to the pursuit of social justice in Oxford County. The award celebrates those who work for social change and provide services to marginalized members of our society.  Last year’s winner was Marilyn Schmiedl who dedicates countless hours to the local organization Operation Sharing.

Award Criteria:

  • There is a clear impact on the community that can be attributed to the work of the individual or group.
  • The work of this individual or group is either ongoing or was conducted for a considerable period of time.
  • Must show a commitment to social justice in times of crises.
  • Trailblazer in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the context of organizational change, community engagement, and/or social transformation.
  • Works, volunteers, and/or lives in Oxford County.

Nominations are currently being accepted for 2023.  People can be nominated by completing the application by April 21, 2023.


Seeking to Hear Tenants Stories of Displacement/Renoviction

Social Planning Council Oxford is looking to interview tenants in Oxford County who have been forced to move due to harassment, renovictions, discrimination or rising rent costs. As the housing crisis continues, more and more people are being forced out of their homes and communities.  Many people in our County are being evicted, are being forced to pay higher rent costs, or finding it difficult to maintain housing due to discrimination.   We are trying to better understand why this is happening and the personal impact it is having.  Oxford County is one of four communities in Ontario participating in this project.  The anonymous stories will then be shared to inform policy change at the municipal and provincial levels.

Tenants in Oxford County are invited to participate in the project called The Many Faces of Rural and Urban Displacement.  The interviews can be conducted on the phone, online, or in person and will continue to run until the end of March.  Those interviewed will receive a $50 gift card to a local grocery store for their time.

If you are interested in participating in an interview and sharing your story, contact Kama at kama@spcoxford.ca or phone 226-228-0539.

This project is funded by the Community Housing Transformation Centre through the Community Based Tenant Initiative Fund.


We're Looking for Volunteers!

Social Planning Council Oxford is excited to announce that it will be the convenor of the Tamarack Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF) initiative in Oxford County, funded through the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy. This initiative will explore needs and gaps for youth in Oxford County and work collaboratively with the community to build a Youth Collective Impact Strategy to improve youth outcomes and high-school graduation rates in our community.

We are seeking 12-15 diverse youth (aged 15-29) from Oxford County to be volunteers on the Youth Council guiding the CBYF initiative. These individuals will guide the development and implementation of an ongoing effort to provide a comprehensive collaborative community response initiative in identifying, understanding and addressing gaps for youth in Oxford County. The initiative will focus on several areas, including education, employment, mental health and wellbeing, transitioning from youth to adult services, housing, substance use, and other relevant areas. The volunteers will be the key figures guiding the direction of this initiative.

For further information, look at our job posting. If you’re interested in applying, email a letter of interest including your age, address, and the best way to contact you, as well as your resume if you have one, to Jodie Konior (Project Coordinator – CBYF: jodie.konior@spcoxford.ca)


Giselle Lutfallah Receives the Social Justice Award

Giselle Lutfallah is the 2020 recipient of the Social Planning Council Oxford’s Social Justice Awards.

She clearly demonstrates the award criteria: clear impact on the community; ongoing commitment to social justice causes; and, trailblazer in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Giselle’s collaborative spirit and ability to mobilize the community to action is inspiring.  Check out the press release to read more about Giselle’s social justice pursuits.


Statement Regarding Residential Schools in Canada

May 31st, marks Every Child Matters Day in Canada.  Today we remember and reflect on the over 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples children that were taken from their homes and placed in residential schools from 1863 to 1996.  We also remember the 215 children recently found buried at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops British Columbia.  Please read SPCO’s statement on residential schools.

Registry Week (Homelessness Survey) Community Debrief

On December 3, 2020 Social Planning Council Oxford and the Oxford Housing Action Collaborative hosted a virtual community debrief event to share the results of the November 23 to 26 Oxford County Registry Week.

  • 93 different people experiencing homelessness were interviewed during Registry Week.
  • Including dependent children, 103 people experiencing homelessness were included in the week’s enumeration/survey.

The recording of the event can be found here.

The media release contains more details.

Amanda Cook Receives 2020 Social Justice Award

The Social Planning Council Oxford (SPCO) announced Amanda Cook as the recipient of the 2020 Social Justice Award.  The yearly award recognizes those in Oxford who devote their time and energy to the pursuit of social justice.  Recipients must have a clear impact on the community and show ongoing commitment to social justice causes.

In these difficult times, it is a breath of fresh air to recognize the contributions of Amanda and our many social justice warriors, including all of the applications that we received, for working tirelessly to see social change.

Amanda Cook has shown ongoing commitment to her community through her employment as an outreach worker at the Oxford County Community Health Centre and in her various volunteer positions including but not limited to the Tillsonburg Optimists, Board Member for Dereham Forge Housing Cooperative Tillsonburg and involvement in various community food drives.  Amanda demonstrates that she is a social justice warrior in how she shows up every day.  She wears her passion for her community on her sleeve.  Amanda was formally recognized in the spring at the SPCO virtual annual general meeting.  Should you wish to nominate a community member for the 2021 Social Justice Award, please check the SPCO website under Get Involved for information on how to apply.

More details are included in the press release.

Calling on All Leaders to Take Action Toward Eradicating Poverty
October 17th is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and Social Planning Council Oxford has released a factsheet on the progress that has been made in reducing poverty in Oxford County. 
The factsheet shows that policy and adequate funding matter, as demonstrated through the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit and enhancement to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors.  This paper serves as a call to action at the local, provincial and federal levels-make ending poverty a priority.  Let’s continue to work towards eliminating poverty in our community.
Non-Profits Thriving in a "VUCA" World: Reflections on Leading in a World of Rapid, Unpredictable Change

VUCA is an acronym to describe the current state of our society as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.  Social Planning Council Oxford has released a factsheet (October 2019) for non-profit and community leaders on this topic to understand how VUCA impacts their organizations and offers action steps and further reading to thrive in this current environment.

“Leadership in a VUCA World moves away from planning ahead to strategizing-making active and deliberate change”- (La Piana, 2018). 

View the full report here: http://spcoxford.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/VUCA-Factsheet-October-2019.pdf

Bryan Smith Receives Social Justice Award

June 3, 2019- Bryan Smith of Sweaburg was named the inaugural recipient of the Social Justice Award presented by the Social Planning Council Oxford (SPCO).  The yearly award recognizes community members who devote their time and energy to the pursuit of social justice.  The award celebrates those who work for social change and provide services to members of our community who are in need. 

Smith wears many hats in the community including but not limited to his work with the Social Planning Council Oxford, member of the Zero Poverty Oxford; Future Oxford Sustainability; Lunch Bunch and Supper Club; the Ontario Health Coalition; Oxford Coalition for Social Justice; Children’s Water Festival, OPAL and Reuseaplooza…and too many more to mention.  If you want to see what a true social justice warrior looks like, you need to only look at a day in Bryan Smith’s life. 

Should you wish to nominate a community member for the 2019 Social Justice Award please check the SPCO website in December for information on how to apply.

Join our Board of Directors!

We are seeking up to 6 new board members.  Check out the volunteer board member posting .  

VOTE! Municipal Election 2018-Put Poverty on the Agenda

What are you doing Monday, October 22?  What candidate(s) will you vote for in our upcoming municipal election? Your vote can impact who makes decisions about the services and policies that impact your daily life.  We asked candidates across the County about social issues related to poverty, affordable housing and transportation.  Check out your municipality below for the candidates responses:

City of Woodstock

Town of Tillsonburg

Town of Ingersoll

Township of Zorra

Township of Blandford-Blenheim

Township of South-West Oxford

Township of East Zorra-Tavistock

Township of Norwich


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.


Oxford County

Government of Canada

Tamarack Institute