York Region Politics and social justice

Former Golden Glove boxer John Fletcher lived here behind the 404 plaza in Newmarket. He died homeless. There is no transitional or assisted housing for single men in YR. The lone Men's shelter runs full most nights. Join us Ap 19 .

  In my previous blog I wrote about being locked in for the Ontario Budget and commented on it a bit and felt I shouldn't let the federal budget go without comment.

  Firstly the feds are planning to implement new rules to make it even tougher for everyone to collect employment insurance - including Ontarians who already get shafted on the eligibility requirements in comparison to most other provinces - rules that will include a provision that workers cannot say no to any 'local"job offer. That is worrisome, like firstly how will they define "local", and secondly that would require a guarantee of transportation to and from said 'local" job which the feds cannot guarantee such as through something like the recent York Region Transit strike which left riders in lurch for 4 months and still has essentially the same problematic deal between the region/transit company/and unions still in place, so there's certainly no guarantee there for them.What would happen then? The onus would be on the worker as the feds would say, " public transportation is a municipal matter" is what.

  Also quietly buried in the feds' budget was the fact that they have killed the National Council of Welfare which, since 1962, has been there with a government mandate to advice and warn policy makers about the consequences of neglecting poverty issues. Their 1.1 million dollar budget afforded them the ability to access expensive unpublished Stats Canada facts and data that anti-poverty advocates used to make their points and present their educated ideas from. Not any more, as another long standing social agency bites the dust. You couple this with the recent elimination of the long form census and what we will have here is a situation wherein the government will be able to fudge facts and figures and no-one will be able to counter with any certainty - a fact the shrewd working feds are banking on. Meantime Back in Ontario Dolton is licking his chops..quietly.

  Speaking of Premier MCgee..rumour has it he's making a "mannequin tour" this coming weeks as part of the "Put Food in the Budget" Campaign with the idea that people can speak their mind to the real - life sized-looking Mcguinty lookalike, a version of which will be hanging out with me in York Region from April 19 to 23d should anyone like to "interview" him...on camera of course! The tour gets kicked off at Toronto's Queen's Park April 19 at 1:30PM to draw attention to the freeze in social assistance and ODSP rates as contained in the Ontario budget, and removal of the "Start-up" fund which in essence eliminates York Region's lowest income recipients from any anti-homelessness programs completely.. Join us!

  Another topic I blogged and created video-blogs as far back as November about was the need to make the York Regional Chairperson a voted position and lo and behold it's now finally on the table for review!? This position carries far too much responsibility and power for it to not have someone held accountable as in times such as the recent transit strike wherein our Chairman, Bill Fisch, could essentially sell out low income York Regioners by sitting on his hands for 4 months whilst some peoples lives dissolved around them. He dismissed offhandedly my submission to council that they leave their cars at home for the duration of the strike. His laissez-faire attitude toward bringing an end to the dispute was a shining example of why that person needs to be held accountable - either through a performance review or voted out by the public. Other regions have adopted a voted in Regional Chairperson and certainly see no reason why York region shouldn't as well.

  Funny thing, at the same time as Newmarket council raised the issue of perhaps instilling new measures to ensure 'donations' and such for elections are controlled and transparent, so too did they in regards to charities and events the councilors support. They mentioned donations to " Belinda's Place", The Hoedown, Y.R. Habitat for Humanity - which recently paid out a whopping 6 $million dollars in "costs" fyi.

  Speaking of Belinda's Place, nice to read in the Newmarket Era that the to be 'single women's shelter" as well as the other 7 shelters in York Region that accept women (abused - includes immediate access to social housing - 3), family-1, single women to age 27- 1 (plus transitional housing), In / Out from the Cold's(2) are going to have apartments, transitional housing and "programs' to assist them all. This in addition of course I assume to whatever programs are offered out by the Y.R. Womens Centre.

  Y.R.'s men get no apartments or transitional housing and are kicked to the curb at 8am until evening for their "programs', then shipped to Toronto or Barrie to be rid of. I guess the region didn't get the memo that with the opening of the new family shelter the women's shelters use numbers are all down. But hey, we can't spoil a planned party now, especially if its going to deify Belinda for her wondrous foresight aided of course by the etchings of the local newspaper Editor Deb Kelly who is also on the Belinda's Place's (closed group) committee, and helped present it to the Regional Council to acquire funding / support. Funny they haven't printed one letter I've written about the shelter idea and the fact that affordable housing for singles including men is what's needed, not another expensive to run shelter, even though I co-authored York Region's social audit " Behind The Masks" and Chair it's only grassroots organization with a mandate to reduce poverty. I've said it before and I'll say it again this proposed new shelter will have to bring single women (over age 27 since we have youth shelters already for single women up to 26) in from outside York Region to fill it, but Joe and Jill Public will ever be the wiser since all they'll be told through our mainstream local media (via the same Editor) is that everything is wonderful there. The same spin that happens now.
Homeless man visits for the first time since his death, the "home" of former homeless person John Fletcher. John's saying was " It's 60-40 for the good guys". He left behind two children when he died in Newmarket.
  Two homeless men I know of have died homeless in Newmarket in the past few years such as John Fletcher, a former golden gloves boxing champion who lived behind the Metro grocery store at the 404 plaza, and not a word in the local newspapers was written about them, nor any new programs to save our men announced - although funding for some upstart group claiming to be helping young low income girls was announced..I guess Girls Incorporated and Big Sisters or free activities programs offered up by Operation Sparrow which PACC helped create, does not segregate and costs nothing for users wasn't enough? Why not just fund them so they can expand a model already set up and sensitive to those living on the margins.

  I know it's nice to save our women and children first, just like the Titanic, but like the Titanic the model is destined to sink because it overloads one area while neglecting another. At some point they/we must all co-exist. You don't skip over 90% of a problem area to focus most of our resources( grants, gov $, charitable donations, media) to another because it's "sexier".

  90% of our truly homeless are men, 90% of those killed on the streets are men, and 90% killed in wars for this country are / were men...It's ugly yea, but surely the ones in need who didn't ask for a life of street violence, crime, and hunger deserve some consideration, respect and hope...just saying...

Tom out