Ottawa may tackle homeless: Cabinet panel to be formed? FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 4 Nov 1998 12:47:44 -0400


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http://www2.thestar.com/thestar/editorial/news/981104NEW01_NA-CAB4.html
FWD  Toronto Star - November 4, 1998

OTTAWA MAY TACKLE HOMELESS
CABINET TO BE FORMED?

By William Walker
Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau Chief

OTTAWA - The federal Liberal cabinet is considering a sweeping new strategy
to fight homelessness in Toronto and across the country, The Star has
learned.

 Key to the plan would be the creation of a powerful cabinet committee
within Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's government to co-ordinate
plans by various ministers to battle the crisis, sources said.

``There's an increased awareness of the problem. It's a very important
issue across the country,'' Jennifer Lang, a spokesperson for
Chrétien, said last night.

Several senior Liberals favour striking a new urban affairs committee of
cabinet to first tackle the Toronto homelessness crisis.

In recent days, top-level talks have been held between cabinet ministers
and key advisers in Chrétien's office about the best way to fight
the growing problem of homelessness on the streets of Toronto and other
major Canadian cities.

The discussions come barely a week after Toronto City Council passed a
resolution declaring homelessness ``a national disaster.''

Toronto's existing 4,200 hostel beds are full most nights and as many as
500 people may be sleeping outdoors, city officials say.

The city is facing a shortage of more than 400 hostel beds for the homeless
this winter, they add.

Ottawa is already acting on short-term solutions for this winter by
reopening the Moss Park armoury and arranging to open for the first time
the Fort York armoury as an overflow shelter on the coldest nights of
winter.

But Liberal cabinet ministers have a phase-two plan to tackle the root
causes of homelessness such as social housing shortages, mental illness,
the plight of aboriginal people in urban areas, improper immigration
settlement practices and a lack of training and job opportunities.

Because of the overlapping responsibilities of these issues, some senior
Liberals argue that an urban affairs committee of cabinet would be most
effective to co-ordinate the efforts of various government ministers.

Those who would might be on the new committee include David Collenette,
minister for the Greater Toronto Area, Health Minister Allan Rock, Indian
Affairs Minister Jane Stewart, Human Resources Minister Pierre Pettigrew,
Immigration Minister Lucienne Robillard, Justice Minister Anne McLellan and
Alfonso Gagliano, federal minister responsible for housing.

Many of those ministers are from major urban centres affected by
homelessness: Collenette and Rock are from Toronto; Pettigrew, Gagliano and
Robillard are from Montreal and McLellan is from Edmonton.

``This is an issue that crosses a lot of departmental lines and we hope to
get some concerted response,'' Collenette said yesterday in an interview.

``We have to deal with the homeless no matter where they are. I certainly
think it's a severe national problem and all of us have to work together to
find a solution.''

Since those ministers make up a senior roster of influential members of the
Chrétien cabinet, Liberal insiders say they would have the clout to
get approval for a co-ordinated strategy.

Senior Liberals also believe that such an urban affairs committee of
cabinet could eventually move on to tackle other problems which plague
cities, including youth unemployment and crime.

``There are a lot of areas where this all comes together,'' Collenette
said, ``and I've discussed this with my colleagues about how we can
respond.''

The GTA minister stressed that any decisions about how cabinet committees
are struck or what tasks are assigned to existing committees falls solely
to the Prime Minister.

``Any ideas about the operation of government are really up to the Prime
Minister. That's his business as to how he structures the problem. As to
whether he wants to have special committees of cabinet, that's up to him,''
Collenette said.

The federal government has already provided $300,000 to fund the Anee
Golden task force on the homeless and will also provide $50,000 toward
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman's upcoming summit to address the issue.

Collenette said Premier Mike Harris' government has to also step up to the
plate since it has a major jurisdictional stake in the matter.

"Obviously, the provincial government is a big player here and we haven't
heard much from them," he said.

"We all want to try to deal with this problem. We don't want to sweep it
under the rug.  There are different jurisdictions and different priorities.
But I think the province (of Ontario) is a big player here."

END FORWARD
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receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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http://www2.thestar.com/thestar/editorial/news/981104NEW01_NA-CAB4.html

FWD  Toronto Star - November 4, 1998 


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>OTTAWA MAY TACKLE HOMELESS

CABINET TO BE FORMED?


By William Walker 

Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau Chief

</paraindent>

OTTAWA - The federal Liberal cabinet is considering a sweeping new
strategy to fight homelessness in Toronto and across the country, The
Star has learned.


 Key to the plan would be the creation of a powerful cabinet committee
within Prime Minister Jean Chr&eacute;tien's government to co-ordinate
plans by various ministers to battle the crisis, sources said.


``There's an increased awareness of the problem. It's a very important
issue across the country,'' Jennifer Lang, a spokesperson for
Chr&eacute;tien, said last night.


Several senior Liberals favour striking a new urban affairs committee
of cabinet to first tackle the Toronto homelessness crisis.


In recent days, top-level talks have been held between cabinet
ministers and key advisers in Chr&eacute;tien's office about the best
way to fight the growing problem of homelessness on the streets of
Toronto and other major Canadian cities.


The discussions come barely a week after Toronto City Council passed a
resolution declaring homelessness ``a national disaster.''


Toronto's existing 4,200 hostel beds are full most nights and as many
as 500 people may be sleeping outdoors, city officials say.


The city is facing a shortage of more than 400 hostel beds for the
homeless this winter, they add.


Ottawa is already acting on short-term solutions for this winter by
reopening the Moss Park armoury and arranging to open for the first
time the Fort York armoury as an overflow shelter on the coldest nights
of winter.


But Liberal cabinet ministers have a phase-two plan to tackle the root
causes of homelessness such as social housing shortages, mental
illness, the plight of aboriginal people in urban areas, improper
immigration settlement practices and a lack of training and job
opportunities.


Because of the overlapping responsibilities of these issues, some
senior Liberals argue that an urban affairs committee of cabinet would
be most effective to co-ordinate the efforts of various government
ministers.


Those who would might be on the new committee include David Collenette,
minister for the Greater Toronto Area, Health Minister Allan Rock,
Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart, Human Resources Minister Pierre
Pettigrew, Immigration Minister Lucienne Robillard, Justice Minister
Anne McLellan and Alfonso Gagliano, federal minister responsible for
housing.


Many of those ministers are from major urban centres affected by
homelessness: Collenette and Rock are from Toronto; Pettigrew, Gagliano
and Robillard are from Montreal and McLellan is from Edmonton.


``This is an issue that crosses a lot of departmental lines and we hope
to get some concerted response,'' Collenette said yesterday in an
interview.


``We have to deal with the homeless no matter where they are. I
certainly think it's a severe national problem and all of us have to
work together to find a solution.''


Since those ministers make up a senior roster of influential members of
the Chr&eacute;tien cabinet, Liberal insiders say they would have the
clout to get approval for a co-ordinated strategy.


Senior Liberals also believe that such an urban affairs committee of
cabinet could eventually move on to tackle other problems which plague
cities, including youth unemployment and crime.


``There are a lot of areas where this all comes together,'' Collenette
said, ``and I've discussed this with my colleagues about how we can
respond.''


The GTA minister stressed that any decisions about how cabinet
committees are struck or what tasks are assigned to existing committees
falls solely to the Prime Minister.


``Any ideas about the operation of government are really up to the
Prime Minister. That's his business as to how he structures the
problem. As to whether he wants to have special committees of cabinet,
that's up to him,'' Collenette said.


The federal government has already provided $300,000 to fund the Anee
Golden task force on the homeless and will also provide $50,000 toward
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman's upcoming summit to address the issue.


Collenette said Premier Mike Harris' government has to also step up to
the plate since it has a major jurisdictional stake in the matter.


"Obviously, the provincial government is a big player here and we
haven't heard much from them," he said.


"We all want to try to deal with this problem. We don't want to sweep
it under the rug.  There are different jurisdictions and different
priorities.  But I think the province (of Ontario) is a big player
here."


END FORWARD

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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