Marvyn Novick, a leading thinker and contributor to the social policy field in Ontario and Canada passed away suddenly on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. Marvyn, 75, although retired after a distinguished career in the social planning field in Toronto and as Dean and teacher at the Ryerson School of Social Work, remained actively engaged as a contributor to the social policy work of the Social Planning Network of Ontario.
In 2007, Marvyn was awarded a lifetime honorary membership in the SPNO for his visionary leadership on a poverty reduction strategy for Ontario. Marvyn visited communities across the province on a speaking tour to urge all provincial parties contesting the 2007 election to adopt timelines and targets for poverty reduction in Ontario. Along with other community advocacy campaigns, his work aroused public interest and support leading to a pre-election commitment by Premier McGuinty to develop a poverty reduction plan within a year of his government’s re-election.
Subsequently, Marvyn led the framing of a blueprint for a poverty reduction strategy in Ontario and took it on a “PRS road show” in several tours of 25 communities across the province for feedback and input. Bringing disparate parts of the advocacy community together around several common themes and goals had an impact on the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy released in December 2008.
Long before his engagement as an “advocacy pensioner”, as he called it, Marvyn made his mark as a brilliant policy thinker and community activist in his professional life. He researched and wrote major national reports on child poverty in Canada, addressed issues of work and family life, focused public attention on the social responsibilities of local governments in Ontario, conducted a widely cited two volume study on changing social conditions in Toronto suburbs, and is the author of working papers on the life chances of children.
The federal government’s reformulated National Child Benefit projected to bring 40% of low income children out of poverty in Canada was originally inspired and put in place in the late 1990s as a result of the work of the Child Poverty Action Group and CAMPAIGN 2000, in which Marvyn was a driving force and leader.
Devoted to his family, Marvyn mourned the loss of his beloved wife Ryva in 2003 and he always enjoyed telling stories about the lives and happenings of his children and grandchildren, while also eagerly interested in updates on the personal and family lives of his friends and colleagues.
While his contribution to our work in SPNO is irreplaceable, the loss of this dear friend and mentor to so many of us extends far beyond the work. Hard to imagine that deep voice silenced, that hardy laugh stilled. As so many have said in response to this sad news, he was a moral compass for inclusion, equity and social justice and we are charged with continuing the struggle in honour of his lasting legacy.