Bill 58

Criminalization of Homelessness Continues in the 'Safe Streets' of Ontario

An amendment to Ontario'sSafe Streets Act of 1999 entitled Bill 58 was in standing committee last week for amendments to decriminalize street fundraising by registered charities.

The change comes at the behest of organizations such as Muscular Dystrophy Canada and the Ottawa boot drive who claim to have lost $1 million and $800,000 respectively since the law came into effect because they have been unable to solicit donations on the streets.

Panhandling, squeegeeing, and other .... will remain illegal under the controversial act as will non licensed "phony non-profit organizations [who] could misuse this privilege".

Studies have shown that the Safe Streets Act has resulted in "tougher times for panhandlers" and the "worsening of living conditions" for so-called squeegee kids.

Despite its controversy, the Safe Streets Act has lived through condemnation by the failed constitutional challenge and even an attempt at repealing the law in 2000.

1. Section 3 of the Safe Streets Act, 1999, as amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 2002, chapter 17, Schedule F, Table, is amended by adding the following subsection: Permitted fund-raising by charities (3) Subsection (2) does not apply to fund-raising activities that meet the following conditions: 1. They are conducted by a charitable organization recognized by Revenue Canada. 2. They are conducted by a non-profit organization on a roadway where the maximum speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour. 3. They are permitted by a by-law of the municipality.

Gilles Bisson, the lone Northern Ontario representative in the meetings, speaks his mind to IMC TBay on the potential ineffectiveness of the bill and the continuation of the criminalization of Northern Ontario's homeless.

Ottawa activists have unionized the homeless, employed them to distribute The Dominion and fought back in the courts.

The Halifax Coalition Against Poverty, the BC Civil Liberties Association have fought against similar acts passed by their provincial governments to criminalize homelessness.

Squeegee Punx in Traffic


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