Tories blamed for homeless people's plight in Ontario, Canada FWD

Tom Boland (
Fri, 14 May 1999 20:44:59 -0700 (PDT)

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What do you consider to be the most important issue in the Ontario election
June 3?
FWD  Toronto Star - May 12, 1999

     Ontario Votes


     NDP leader visits women's shelter in London

     By Theresa Boyle - Toronto Star Staff Reporter

 NDP Leader Howard Hampton used a Queen's Park grate where a homeless man
died to illustrate his argument that the policies of the Mike Harris
government are jeopardizing lives.

 Pointing to a sixth-floor window of the Whitney Block, where the Premier
has an office, Hampton yesterday alleged that Harris is ignoring the plight
of the homeless even though it's right under his nose.

 ``It seems that he doesn't think about it, even when it comes tragically
close to his doorstep, right under his own window,'' he told reporters.

 Last February, a 54-year-old homeless man known only as Al, was found dead
on the heating grate across the street from the main legislative building.
An autopsy showed he died of natural causes. He was found under a pile of
old blankets and cardboard.

 ``In fact, there are still about three homeless people who come here to
sleep because they have nowhere to go in Mike Harris' Ontario,'' Hampton

Grate a warm, cheap place to sleep

 One man was rudely awakened from his slumber atop the grate yesterday
morning by the phalanx of television cameras and reporters. He quickly
gathered together his few possessions and scurried away from the scene just
as Hampton arrived.

 The man, Ian Stuart MacKenzie, said he was not homeless, but merely
passing through Toronto on his way home to the prairies. The grate, he
explained, was a warm and cheap place to catch a few winks.

 He said he has seen plenty of homeless people on his travels and while he
had no idea who Hampton was, he was pleased to see a politician championing
the cause.

 ``It's a situation that should be addressed by everybody,'' MacKenzie said.

 The 30 per cent cut to income taxes implemented by the Tories is putting
people's lives at risk, Hampton said, reiterating what has become his
campaign mantra.

*`Wrong to put the lives of women and children at risk'

 Later in the day, he took the message to the city of London where he
toured a shelter for abused women and children. The Women's Community
Information House was forced to close one of the two shelters it operated
in 1997 because of funding cuts from the province.

 ``(Harris) goes after the most vulnerable people to fund his tax cuts . .
. It's wrong to put the lives of women and children at risk to give the
wealthiest 6 per cent a tax cut.''

 The New Democratic Party leader's visit to London was meant to give a
boost to the campaign of caucus colleague Marion Boyd. She is squaring-off
in a heated battle against Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dianne
Cunningham in the newly created riding of London North Centre.

 Hampton unveiled what he called a ``cuts counter'' showing the
``multi-billion-dollar bonanza to the privileged few.''

 It was a prop with the figure $2.8 billion emblazoned across it, a number,
Hampton said, that is growing at a rate of $3,000 a minute. Hampton plans
to update the number throughout the campaign.

 ``That's what Mike Harris has taken out of our hospitals, out of our
schools, our colleges, our universities so far in order to give the
wealthiest 6 per cent of Ontarians more wealth.''

 It is wrong that we are putting people who had a home out on the street to
finance a tax cut, he said.

 Hampton has vowed that if he wins the election he will roll back the 30
per cent income tax cut for those earning more than $80,000. That would
generate $1.5 billion in revenue annually.

The $2.8 billion that he argues has been sapped from health and education,
is the cumulative cost of the tax cut over almost three years.

 Under questioning from reporters, Hampton wouldn't say whether he'd hike
taxes even further if he becomes premier.

 ``I can't say that now. I honestly can't say that. If there was a
worldwide depression what would you do? I can't answer those questions . .
. I don't have a crystal ball.''

 The NDP leader said he would use $250 million from the tax roll-back to
provide community non-profit housing and co-op housing.

It can't be left to the private sector to build housing for lower- and
modest-income families, he said.

 An NDP government would also restore full rent controls and increase
shelter allowances.

*`Thousands . . . at risk of becoming homeless

 ``The reality of homelessness is that people who used to have a home over
their head can no longer afford to pay the rent and are now out on the
street. There are literally thousands of families in this city and tens of
thousands of families across this province who are now at risk of becoming
homeless,'' Hampton said.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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