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Region of Ottawa-Carleton to join Toronto?

toronto has recently declared homelessness to be a National Disaster.
ottawa may follow suite. this might be worth checking into.

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From:          "Munter, Alex" <MunterAl@rmoc.on.ca>
Subject:       Region of Ottawa-Carleton joins Toronto
Date:          Mon, 2 Nov 1998

For your information, Ottawa-Carleton's regional Community Services
Committee (which I chair) adopted the motion below last Thurs. Oct. 29.
It will go to the full Regional Council for debate on Thurs. Nov. 12:

WHEREAS Canada has signed the International Covenant of Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights guaranteeing everyone's right to "an
adequate standard of living...including adequate food, clothing and
housing"; and

WHEREAS the cancellation of new public housing programs and
the lack of space at crisis shelters due to their being filled to
over-capacity have added to the number of homeless people; and,

WHEREAS homeless people have no decent standard of living;

WHEREAS the Provincial Task Force of Homelessness documents the
withdrawal of the federal and provincial governments from efforts
to improve the stock of affordable accommodation; and,

WHEREAS an adequate supply of affordable housing is essential to any
long-term strategy dealing with homelessness and appropriate shelter
for all Canadians;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton
request that the federal government declare homelessness to be a
National Disaster which requires immediate short and long-term relief,
and that the federal, provincial and municipal governments cooperate
to develop and implement a National Homelessness Relief and Prevention


Alex Munter
Regional Councillor


Copy of press release on this issue:

OCT. 29, 1998

Regional committee asks feds to declare homelessness a disaster

A committee of Regional Council has asked the federal government to
declare homelessness a national disaster, at the request of local
agencies trying to deal with the growing numbers of people living on
the street in Ottawa-Carleton.

"This is a symbolic statement, but it says to the provincial and
federal governments that municipalities alone can not resolve the
growing homelessness crisis," said Councillor Wendy Byrne, who proposed
the motion to the Community Services Committee. Toronto city council
passed a similar motion yesterday.

"Over the past four years, the region has in fact increased our
response to homelessness," said Councillor Alex Munter, the committee's
chair. "When the province eliminated funding for the day programs for
the mentally ill homeless, we replaced the lost funding. We helped
finance a new women's shelter and a new youth shelter, we increased the
funding for the men's shelters and we increased the funding for food
programs. But these are all band-aids - the only solution to
homelessness is an effective housing program."

Committee members heard that the number of people living on the street
is growing very quickly and the province's policies - like canceling
housing programs and cutting social assistance - have lead to an
increase in the homeless population.

Shelters and emergency hostels are almost completely full. So far, in
1998, for example, the women's hostel has been at 98% capacity, the
shelter for persons with special needs (severe psychiatric, etc.) has
also been running at 98% capacity, and the hostels for men are at 91%.
Social workers are worried about what will happen this winter when
cold weather strikes.

Along with its report earlier this month, which called on
municipalities to deal with homelessness, the province also allocated
Ottawa-Carleton $210,000. By comparison, the region of Peel - which is
comprised of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon and has virtually no
homeless population on its streets - was allocated a provincial grant
of $270,000 to deal with homelessness issues.

"Today's motion is an attempt to catch the attention of senior
governments, who are neglecting this issue," said Byrne. "We are
willing to do our part, but we need their help and co-operation."
The motion will be debated by full Regional Council Nov. 12.

Councillor Wendy Byrne                  Councillor Alex Munter
560-1211 (w)                            560-1207 (w) or 592-6993 (h)

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