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All levels of government fight against helping homeless in Sudbury

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

The Canadian Charter guarantees the right to life and security of the person, including access to basic necessities including housing.  Our federal government has assured UN human rights bodies of this in the past.  This week, in the Ontario Court of Appeal they will be arguing just the opposite - the Charter does not obligate the government of a rich country like ours to ensure no one sleeps in the cold.  Shameful.

In 2008 a UN report on adequate housing called the extent of homelessness in so affluent a country "shocking".  International human rights groups are in court this week to ensure Canada is "held accountable for violations of fundamental human rights" including housing.   Food banks and homeless shelters should not exist in Canada.  Groups like Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) should not be necessary.  The problem is not a lack of resources, it is a lack of government will to provide for our most vulnerable.

SCAP is the voice of the those most vulnerable here in Sudbury.  11 SCAP volunteers went to their provincial representative's office to demand action on homelessness and poverty.  They didn't hurt anyone.  They didn't damage anything.  They wanted help.  They got arrested.  The case went to court where they were exonerated and now the Crown is appealing, to make sure those who speak out for the poor are punished.
At our municipal government level, demands to be heard resulted in SCAP volunteers being removed from a council meeting without even being acknowledged.  Now we have more security at council meetings.

See a pattern here?  Rather than addressing homelessness, instead of adopting a rights-based housing strategy with goals, timelines and monitoring as the UN has repeatedly urged; our federal, provincial and municipal governments spend our tax dollars arguing they have no responsibility, prosecuting people who try to speak for the poor and beefing up security so voices don't get heard.  Meanwhile, people right here in Sudbury sleep on the street, in the snow.

The issue here isn't even just homelessness; it is also about our right to speak freely and be heard by our representatives.  Within the next year or so we have the opportunity, here in Sudbury, to change our representatives at all levels of government.  Clearly we need change.  

Municipal and provincial candidates are campaigning right now.  Talk to them, go to debates, read their platforms, ask questions, get to know them.  Choose your representatives thoughtfully.  Find out specifically what they will do to ensure we don't have our people sleeping on snowy sidewalks ever again and ask them how they are going to do it.  Demand that your tax dollars are used in a well planned strategy to end homelessness, not to fight against people who try to help the homeless.

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Karen Bringleson (Karen Bringleson)
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Member since Novembre 2013


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City Council

While enjoying this blog post and agreeing with much of it, I do want to add a few comments.

Karen wrote: "Within the next year or so we have the opportunity, here in Sudbury, to change our representatives at all levels of government.  Clearly we need change."

With regards to municipal council, it should be noted that some of the councilors have gone out of their way to try to work with the Sudbury Coaliton Against Poverty (particularily Joe Cimino and Claude Berthiaume), and also that at the last council meeting S-CAP disrupted, the Mayor Marianne Matichuk attempted to speak over the voice of a protestor and then invited the council to leave the room, but they didn't. A few looked as if they were going to leave, but several remained seated the whole time, listening. It doesn't mean there isn't more all of them could do, but I don't think they shouldn't all be tarred with the same brush either. If we want politicians to listen to us we need to respect the times when they do respond positively.

On a federal level, it seems questionable whether we have the ability to replace our current representative with anyone who would care more about our issues. It isn't Sudbury that needs to replace our federal representative, but the bulk of the rest of the country that needs to replace theirs!

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About the Sudbury Working Group

The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was formed to create independent media in the North, to speak to our issues and outlooks on our communities as well as the world around us. Independent media provides an avenue for people who are wishing to gain critical perspective on the issues that matter most to us, and to give a voice to those people and stories that you won't find in the mainstream media.

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