[Hpn] Poverty activists demand a hearing

Graeme Bacque gbacque@idirect.com
Tue, 13 Jun 2000 04:54:16 -0400


June 13, 2000

Poverty activists demand a hearing
Labour chiefs join call to address the Legislature

By Peter Small
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Labour leaders are throwing their weight behind a demand by anti-poverty 
activists to address the Ontario Legislature this week on the issue of 
homelessness.

Buzz Hargrove, national president of the Canadian Auto Workers, was one of 
four labour leaders, along with the York University faculty association 
chair, to sign an open letter to Premier Mike Harris yesterday on poverty 
and homelessness.

They accuse his government, through its welfare cuts and housing policies, 
of being directly responsible for the deaths of ``well over 20 people in a 
24-week period this past winter and early spring in Toronto alone.''

They are backing a demand by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty to 
address the Legislature on Thursday.
``You meet regularly with those who can afford the entry fees to 
fundraising dinners,'' the letter says. ``We refuse to accept that the poor 
and the homeless should not also have access to you and to all members of 
the Legislature.''

They pledged to join the anti-poverty coalition as it marches on Queen's 
Park on Thursday to press its demands.
The coalition is demanding the government rescind its 1995 welfare cut; 
``reinstate rent control''; build social housing; and rescind the Safe 
Streets Act, which outlaws squeegeeing and some forms of begging.

The coalition will ``insist'' on being allowed to address the Legislature, 
spokesperson John Clarke told supporters at Bay and Wellesley Sts., next to 
the bus shelter where a homeless man, Adrian Fillmore, was found dead June 
5 with his throat slashed.

Legislature Speaker Gary Carr said rules do not allow anyone other than 
members on to the floor to speak.

The letter is also signed by Peter Bailey, president of the Canadian Union 
of Postal Workers, Toronto local; Penni Stewart, chair of the York 
University Faculty Association; Bruce Allen, vice-president of the St. 
Catharines Labour Council; Alex Levant, of the Canadian Union of Public 
Employees, Local 3903; Helen Kennedy, of the Metro Network for Social 
Justice; and Cathy Crowe, with the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.