Ottawa won't pay to help homeless

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Fri, 30 Jul 1999 04:38:55 -0400


July 30, 1999

Ottawa won't pay to help homeless 

Bradshaw denies money on way despite mayor's
assurances 

By Catherine Dunphy and Bruce DeMara 
Toronto Star Staff Reporters

Despite what Mayor Mel Lastman thinks, Ottawa's cheque to
the city's homeless is not in the mail. 

It's not coming in October, either. 

``Mel's going to be all upset again,'' Claudette Bradshaw, federal
minister for the homeless, said in an exclusive interview
yesterday. 

But earlier, Lastman told an impromptu news conference held
after his two- hour lunch meeting with Bradshaw he expects a
commitment to build housing from Ottawa by October. 

``As of October we're looking for commitments and we're
looking for commitments to get housing built. We know there'll
be a commitment regarding refugees,'' Lastman said. 

The day before the meeting, Lastman told The Star he was
convinced Bradshaw would come to Toronto bearing cash
gifts. 

``She asked for the meeting,'' he said. ``They're coming with
something. If not now, then in September.'' 

But Bradshaw said she'd like to meet Ontario's new housing
minister, Steve Gilchrist, that month. 

She also said the only commitment the federal representatives
made at the meeting with the mayor was to complete their
research on the numbers of immigrants and refugees in Toronto
by October. 

The city currently foots the resettlement bills for many
immigrants and wants the federal government to acknowledge
its fiscal responsibility. 

``Mel may not be getting a cheque, but a lot of agencies in
Toronto are getting a cheque,'' she said. 

She was referring to the $33.9 million she says Ottawa delivers
to Toronto for the homeless through payments to Health
Canada, Central Mortgage and Housing Corp., Industry Canada
and crime prevention work. 

Bradshaw is ending this leg of her three-week, 14-community,
cross-Canada tour with three days in Toronto. She's touring
federally funded agencies and holding in-camera meetings with
key social service agency workers. 

Last night, she was supposed to have dinner with Toronto's
Liberal caucus, but only Maria Minna (Beaches-Woodbine) and
Tony Ianno (Trinity Niagara) were available. 

So instead she served roast beef and potato salad to some of
the 60 people at Senior Link's weekly community kitchen dinner
in Toronto's east end. 

Earlier, some people who were at Bradshaw's closed-door
meeting at the Daily Bread Food Bank said they told her Canada
needs 200,000 units of assisted housing to be built within the
next 10 years and asked her to be the leader of a drive to
achieve that. 

``In '92, the last year Canada was in the housing business,
19,000 units were built in Canada. In '98, it was 1,400,'' said Peter
Zimmerman, Councillor Jack Layton's housing specialist. 

But Bradshaw hasn't been making any promises this trip. 

In fact, she's been emphasizing that she is not the minister for
the homeless as she was first introduced to Toronto in March,
two days after she was appointed by Prime Minister Jean
Chrétien. 

``I'm the minister of labour, not the minister of homelessness. I
was asked to co-ordinate all the information (about
homelessness) coming in,'' she said. 

The wrong message got out in Toronto, she said. 

``It's been very difficult.'' 

She wants all three levels of government to meet and start
talking. She said she urged Lastman to phone Vancouver's
mayor to find out how he achieved a tri-government meeting
and a commitment to fighting homelessness there. 

Bradshaw said the federal government might be able to ease
mortgage commitments for the working poor, or donate some of
the land it owns in the Toronto area for others to build
affordable housing. 

``But I don't know how many times I have to say it. It's a
partnership. All three levels of government have to work
together,'' she said.