[Fwd: Ottawa-Carleton Council declares HLN a National Disaster, Nov 12]

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Sat, 14 Nov 1998 18:59:04 -0500

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Ottawa-Carleton Council declares HLN a National Disaster, Nov
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 18:42:50 +0000
From: "David Hulchanski, University of Toronto"

November 12, 1998 Meeting

Canada has signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights guaranteeing everyone's right to "an adequate standard
of living...including adequate food, clothing and  housing";  and

the cancellation of new public housing programs and the lack of space at
crisis shelters due to their being filled to over-capacity have added to
the number of homeless people;  and

homeless people have no decent standard of living;  and

the Provincial Task Force on Homelessness documents the withdrawal of
the federal and provincial governments from efforts to improve the stock
of affordable accommodation;  and

an adequate supply of affordable housing is essential to any long-term
strategy dealing with homelessness and appropriate shelter for all


that the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton request that the
federal government declare homelessness to be a National Disasterwhich
requires immediate short and long-term relief, and that the federal,
provincial and municipal governments cooperate to develop and implement
a National Homelessness Relief and Prevention Strategy.


Ottawa Sun,  Friday, November 13, 1998 

Region tackles 'national disaster'
Boosts emergency housing budget


Regional councillors won cheers of applause from a packed gallery
yesterday as they supported declaring homelessness a national disaster
and set more money aside for emergency shelters.

With "unprecedented levels" of homelessness and a growing waiting list
for affordable housing throughout the region, Coun. Wendy Bryne said
emergency services are overloaded.

Regional council approved spending another $60,000 for emergency
shelters in the region. With matching dollars from the province, the
investment will total $300,000.

Declaring homelessness a national disaster may be a "symbolic statement"
or "hyperbole," but she said recognizing the problem will prompt
discussion on the issue.

Last week, Ottawa council approved calling on the federal government to
declare homelessness a disaster that requires co-ordinated relief

"I cried every day and every night," said Cheryl Prevost, one of about
200 homeless people and social welfare workers who jammed the council
chambers yesterday.

Prevost, 36, lived on the streets and slept in parks for the last five
months after escaping an abusive relationship. She finally got a bed at
a downtown shelter for women three nights ago, but shakes her head at
the thought of some street friends who haven't been so lucky -- with a
long waiting list for beds at the shelter, they're left cold, hungry and

Joanne Lowe, co-chair of the Alliance to End Homelessness, said it's
difficult to give an accurate count on homeless people in the region,
but she pointed to the more than 6,000 individuals who used shelters
last year as an indication of the numbers.

The current waiting list for subsidized housing in Ottawa-Carleton has
grown to a staggering 14,000 names.

"The key is to provide access to housing and to maintain affordability,"
Lowe said.

Coun. Diane Holmes said a shortage of second-stage housing means once
people move into a shelter, they aren't able to move out. But because
shelters are expensive, governments would be socially and economically
prudent to fund less costly long-term housing, she said.

Coun. Alex Munter said Ottawa-Carleton has done a "tremendous" job
helping the homeless within the scope of its resources. But declaring
homelessness a national disaster will serve as a wakeup call to senior
levels of government to fill their duty to meet the needs of
communities, he said.

"We cannot do it on our own," Munter said. "We can't afford to do it
on our own. 



Does Canada have enough money to eliminate homelessness?

NATIONAL POST, Saturday, November 14, 1998

Federal budget surplus hits record $10.4B
Finance minister criticized for making low predictions

Luiza Chwialkowska and Giles Gherson,  National Post 

The federal budget surplus has reached a record $10.4-billion for the
first six months of the fiscal year, the finance department announced

Increased revenues from personal taxes, corporate taxes, and the GST
raised the surplus $2.1-billion over the $8.4-billion recorded over the
first six months of 1997-98. Personal income tax collections were up
$2-billion, or 5.6%, and corporate income tax revenues were up
$800-million, or 9.6%. 

The announcement came less than a month after the government's
pre-budget speech in which Paul Martin, finance minister, warned that a
global economic crisis would reduce the surplus and make significant tax
cuts and spending increases impossible. 

Mr. Martin predicted the dividend would be "modest", in the order of $7-
to $8-billion, and "not enough for the initiatives that many are calling

"Consider the result if we followed calls to take $9- to 10-billion off
tax actions: We would now be heading for a substantial deficit," he said
on Oct. 14. 

The announcement was met yesterday with "I-told-you-so" calls for tax
cuts and increased health-care spending. 

"This puts the lie to the myth the finance minister is spreading that
we're going to have to be very careful and that we're not going to have
much of a surplus," said Monte Solberg, Reform party finance critic.
"Obviously that's not true. The surplus will be quite substantial by the
end of the year. 

"To me it underlines the need of the finance minister to be frank with
people instead of trying to hide the surplus," said Mr. Solberg, who
called on the Mr. Martin to "give this back to the taxpayers in the form
of lower taxes." 

Mr. Solberg called for cuts to Employment Insurance premiums, personal
income taxes, and capital gains taxes. 

Calls for tax cuts were echoed by two provincial governments. 

"This absolutely strengthens the case for lowering EI premiums," said
Alberta Treasurer Stockwell Day, who noted that at a meeting in July,
provincial premiers had told Mr. Martin the surplus would be "about $10

"We thought it could be in that range primarily because of growth in the
EI fund," Mr. Day said. 

The Ontario government called for increased spending in addition to tax

"This is great news," said Tom Long, campaign chairman of the Ontario
Progressive Conservative Party. 

"The federal government no longer has an excuse not to restore the $2.3
billion in what they cut out of the health care system in Ontario. And
we are committed to spending every cent of that money on health care. 

"And they no longer have an excuse not to cut taxes to create jobs," he

The announcement also raised questions about why Mr. Martin's prediction
had been so low. 



Edmonton Sun, Friday, November 13, 1998 

City's homeless ranks may swell


Edmonton's headed for a boom in the homeless population if city hall
can't talk itself out of a fat tax hike in 1999, an anti-poverty
advocate said yesterday.

Helen Krimmer, co-chairman of the Edmonton Coalition on Homelessness,
said the combination of higher taxes on apartment buildings and
extremely low rental vacancy rates could drive a lot of low-income
people into the streets.

"It's the people who are already at the bottom we're worried about," she
said. "This may be too much for them to bear."

According to numbers released by the city yesterday, Edmonton's new
market value assessment method of calculating property taxes is going to
drive up taxes on the category that includes apartment buildings by
about 15%.

To that, add the fact that most city councillors are talking about an
overall rise in property taxes in the four-per-cent-plus range.

One apartment operator said owners probably will end up sticking their
tenants with the cost.

"Suppose there's just a 15% increase... the owner still has fixed costs
like maintenance and heat," said Ken McAmmond, ex-president of the
Edmonton Apartment Association.

Market pressures won't force owners to take the increase out of profits,
since there's no shortage of desperate renters.

The city's vacancy rate is expected to stay below 1% for the coming

"It has a domino effect," said Krimmer. "We've already heard reports
that units at the $275 to $375 level are disappearing."