[Hpn] Toronto March to End Homelessness - Report by Gary Morton FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 06 May 2000 17:41:58 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Sat, 06 May 2000 17:12:59 -0500
Reply-To: Gary Morton <command@interlog.com>
Organization: CitizensontheWeb.com

Report on the March to End Homelessness - May.06.2000

   A heat wave has rolled in and Toronto is under July weather on May
6th. This will be a bad summer for the homeless and most of the hundreds
of protesters gathering at City Hall were wondering just how hot it is
going to get. And if the heat will be worse than the cold that killed 22
homeless people in Toronto this winter. Last year the city promised to
provide cooling centres, then reneged on that promise.

   In spite of the heat we marched to Queens Park, being honked at by
supporting cars as we followed a float of a house. For those who aren't
sure just what a house is, it is one of those rare things that used to
be built in Toronto.

   At Queen's Park a number of speakers addressed the crowd. Here is
some of the info I gathered as people like Cathy Crowe, Kira Heineck,
Linda Toruney, John Clarke, a welfare mom and others spoke.

   The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee has been protesting recently in
Toronto over the death of Jennifer Caldwell, 20 years old. She shouldn't
have been sleeping in the Don Valley but since the shelters were full,
she was there. A fire in the valley killed her.

   Fire is now also being used by the Toronto Police. The homeless are
being forcibly moved by police from under bridges near Spadina Ave. and
the police are then setting fires to these areas with gasoline.

   At the same time as the housing protest, police across the road were
unveiling a statue dedicated to police officers who died in the line of
duty. 22 homeless people met the reaper this year, and if they had been
police, our politicians would be calling it a catastrophe. When it is
homeless people they not only say nothing. They give nothing.

   The Toronto of the past got mentioned. Back in the good old days
there were no food banks or out of the cold programs. There wasn't a
police state for the poor. All of this is new stuff. Uncaring
politicians have created the homeless crisis.

   The Harris government just released a budget that didn't allocate a
single penny to the homeless, but they did give major cash to every
corporate sector. Under the Harris budget, the wealth pie has changed so
that even those who do work at a standard wage now give a tax boost
worth 7 days of wages to big corporations. And this is on top of the big
tax benefits corporations were already receiving.

   People wouldn't be homeless if the wealth was in any way shared.
Social assistance, workers' compensation and UIC have been slashed to
the bone. At the same time rents are skyrocketing and many Toronto
workers know they are always just one pay cheque away from the streets.
Hundred of thousands of tenants are living on the edge. They can't
afford the rents and the situation is set to explode.

   John Clarke condemned the Harris Government for its social cleansing
under the Safe Streets Act, and the City for its part in harassing the
homeless though Target Policing. It is a situation where they not only
make you homeless, but once you're down on the street the harassment
never ends.

   Clarke says the Harris Government, which is rolling in surplus cash,
has gone beyond being willfully blind. They are conducting a war on the
poor. We can't appeal to their hearts because they don't have hearts. We
can't appeal to their consciences because they don't' have any. We have
to build a social movement powerful enough to make the government
retreat.  The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty in alliance with the
homeless and many other groups invites everyone to join them for a June
15 march to the legislature. A very serious event where citizens will
demand the right to enter and address the legislature.

   Other groups have a number of actions planned, I know of a couple but
revealing them in this report would spoil the events.
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
168 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, Canada,M5V 2R4
Cathy Crowe (416) 703-8482 (117)
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
John Clarke, Organizer,
Phone (416) 925-6939
Fax     (416) 925-9681
June 15th March - Meet at Noon in Allan Gardens - South East Corner for
the march to the Legislature.
More info on the web
This report written by Gary Morton for


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