The Metcalf Innovation Fellowship program was created to provide critical thinkers with the opportunity to tackle hard questions and propose solutions to systemic issues. A Metcalf Innovation Fellow since 2006, John Stapleton has been the absolute embodiment of this purpose — publishing 11 reports with the Foundation while shaping policies to improve income security for the most vulnerable and marginalized in Canada.
The Metcalf Innovation Fellowship has enabled me to pursue a post-public service career where I have been able to examine income security at all levels in Canada for individuals of all age groups across a wide spectrum of lived realities. I am enormously grateful for the support, resources, and opportunities that Metcalf has provided me to engage in this work.
Metcalf Innovation Fellow, 2006-2020
We have had the pleasure of collaborating with John and seeing the impact of his work reverberate across the country for well over a decade. With his Innovation Fellowship concluding this past year, we wanted to look back at the remarkable work John has led and the impact it has had in Toronto, and beyond.
John commences his Innovation Fellowship in 2006.
His inaugural Metcalf report, Why Is It So Tough To Get Ahead? (2007), is released along with the following reports:
- Income Security for Working-Age Adults in Canada: Let’s Consider the Model Under Our Nose (2008)
- Why Don’t We Want the Poor to Own Anything? (2009)
- Cutting Through the Fog: Why is it so Hard To Make Sense of Poverty Measures? (2010) co-authored with Richard Shillington
- “Zero Dollar Linda”: A Meditation on Malcolm Gladwell’s “Million Dollar Murray,” the Linda Chamberlain Rule, and the Auditor General of Ontario (2010)
John’s seminal report, The Working Poor in the Toronto Region: Who they are, where they live, and how trends are changing, co-authored with Brian Murphy and Yue Xing, is released and receives an incredible response as the first report to deeply examine working poverty in Toronto.
Select media coverage:
- The poor in Toronto: They’re working but not getting any richer
The Globe and Mail, Anna Mehler Paperny
February 11, 2012
- Metcalf Foundation study: working poor numbers way up in Toronto
The Toronto Star, Laurie Monsebraaten
February 11, 2012
- Working Poor
CBC Radio, Metro Morning, Matt Galloway interviews Rene Adams & Lydia
February 14, 2012
John publishes the following reports with Metcalf:
- The “Welfareization” of Disability Incomes in Ontario (2013)
- The Working Poor in the Toronto Region: Mapping working poverty in Canada’s richest city (2015)
- A Basic Income for Canadians: What would change? (2017)
John is one of three individuals to receive appointments across all levels of government to improve social assistance programs and guide poverty reduction strategies:
- City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Advisory Committee (2015)
- Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services’ Social Assistance Review Advisory Council (2016-18)
- Government of Canada’s Advisory Committee on Poverty (2017-18)
John publishes the final two reports as part of his Innovation Fellowship:
- Voice of Experience: Engaging People with Lived Experience of Poverty in Consultations (2019) co-authored with Bee Lee Soh
- The Working Poor in the Toronto Region: A closer look at the increasing numbers (2019) with contributions by Dr. Carl James and Dr. Kofi Hope
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, John examines the impact of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on provincial and territorial benefits with Anne Tweddle, releasing the Maytree policy backgrounder, Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) interactions with provincial and territorial social assistance and subsidized housing programs and youth aging out of care.
John’s work has influenced policy at all levels of government and his perspectives are widely sought after as one of Canada’s foremost social policy experts.
Supported by Metcalf, John helped to establish the Informal Economy Project at the West Neighbourhood House, which both provides low-income informal workers assistance to file taxes and access benefits and conducts research to influence tax policies.
The free automatic tax filing system finally announced in the 2020 Throne Speech, which will help many low-income and vulnerable Canadians receive tax benefits, is no doubt a testament to his long-time work and advocacy in this area.
Most recently, John’s research examining the link between multi-family households and COVID-19 received attention for showing that the places where multiple working adults are sharing a household are the places that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
John’s impact has been remarkable. He has been a formidable resource and tireless participant in virtually every effort to address issues of justice and decency for low income people over the last decade and beyond.
President and CEO, Metcalf Foundation
Along with celebrating our long-standing partnership with John and his many accomplishments, we want to express our deep gratitude.
Thank you, John — for your generosity, wisdom, and deep commitment to social justice and equity. You have left a real mark here at Metcalf and we will continue to learn from your expertise and your resolve.