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article imageJim Flaherty’s Plan For The Homeless

By Kim Edwards     Mar 4, 2002 in Technology
TORONTO, Ontario (djc) - Homeless groups were shocked by Ontario Progressive Conservative Leadership Candidate Jim Flaherty’s comments recently that if he were elected premier of the province, he would make it illegal to sleep on the street.
"There is nothing compassionate about allowing people to live on the streets," said Flaherty in a statement February 14th. "Compassion means helping those who live in appalling conditions get the assistance they need. And compassion means ensuring that communities and neighborhoods are safe environments in which to live and work. People are living on the streets for a variety of reasons... Regardless, these individuals pose a risk to themselves and the community and need our help." Flaherty declined an interview with Digital Journal about the comments.
Under Flaherty's plan, Special Constables would be hired and trained and given powers to identify people who are a danger to themselves or the community and provide them with alternatives to living and sleeping on the street, such as going to a shelter, a hospital, or a crisis intervention centre. Remaining on the street will not be an option. In some cases, the police may determine that the individual is engaged in unlawful conduct (e.g. defacing property) and take them to jail.
Flaherty’s leadership rivals disagreed with his plan. Elizabeth Witmer charged that it was “inhumane and totally lacking in compassion.” Tony Clement said people in need want a
hand up, "not a hard right hook,” and accused Flaherty of hurting the party. Cathy Crowe from the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee was alarmed by Flaherty’s comments. “We took it very seriously. We were quite alarmed, but we were encouraged by the large negative response from different sectors,” she said.
Toronto, Ontario - According to research by Parkdale Community Legal Services, affordable housing is the most cost-effective way to support a homeless person. Photo: djc Features
Crowe was especially concerned about the raminfications in regards to civil liberties if such a plan went through. “It’s fascist, it’s what happened in 1930’s Germany, certain people are made illegal and removed. We would fight it tooth and nail if it ever happened.”
According to research by Parkdale Community Legal Services, affordable housing is the most cost-effective way to support a homeless person. They estimate that a new non-profit affordable housing unit costs $1080 a month compared to up to $2100 a month for a shelter, $3,720 for an adult correctional facility and $10,800 for a psychiatric facility.
Crowe agrees that a better approach to helping homeless people is to increase the money committed towards affordable housing. She noted that the Ontario government’s contribution to housing programs has not been up to her expectations. “They are signing on, but not with enough money,” she said.
More about Homeless, Food bank, Flaherty, Ontario, Toronto
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