York Region Politics - Facts, Fiction & Elections

Ontarians forced into an election made their choices recently handing a majority government over the the Liberals despite scandal connected to the former Premier and his dealings. The other parties gambled that striking while the irons were hot on the issue would result in victory. They were wrong.

Firstly, the NDP leader who pushed for it, Andrea Horvath, miscalculated how Ontarians felt and would vote. She should have remained patient, allowed people to get to know her a little more (likely swayed by leadership polls) and allowed the Liberal leader to possibly self destruct herself or start creating her own legacy of public funding screw ups and they might have stood some chance to at least make gains. The Conservatives pretty much sealed their fate by backing the unpopular Hudak. Very poor decisions with much predictable outcomes.

So now there are some new faces in the Ontario parliament, and locally, after a Councilor showed her true colours, even 1st timers such as Newmarket / Aurora MPP Chris Ballard, who admitted to me before the election when I met with him he hadn't much on hands knowledge of the nuances of poverty issues but was interested to engage more about them - like about the P.A.C.C. organized York Region social audit report " Behind The Masks". At least he was truthful, and that's a plus in my books.

His extent of 'experience" in this area was knowing of an after-school care held in a co-op funded by the United Way and that men had lived under a bridge in Aurora last year. Hey, it's a starting point! And that's better already than the last guy, Frank Klees, who offered nothing at the "Square-tables on Poverty" we organized, and once said to me,

" Tom you and I can sit here all day and we're not going to agree"

Construction / development a local election issue
...It was his way or the highway and for that reason - and the fact that millionairess Belinda Stronach then M.P. for the area kept sending assistants to the talks instead of attending in person - it didn't last. She had also walked across the parliament floor during this time to the Liberals from the Conservatives, and in reflection, it seems about that time Klees stopped " cooperating". His idea of a 'solution:" was give everyone a job". Soon after the "Squaretable" died.

In one respect it is scary having a person in parliament representing us with little experience, but on the other hand, they perhaps can have more of an open mind about solutions and action and be willing to work "collaboratively', a buzz term used a lot but not practiced much. My experience with collaboration is they steal your ideas and then apply for the funds without you. Ha. Eloquent speeches make for good sound bites, but a gutsy, ethical representative is what I seek - and someone not afraid to like a good idea from anyone and share them in it's delivery.

Belinda's Place - Hurry before winter so women don't freeze!
Ballard's first action in parliament as I understand was to put forward a motion to have the York Region Chairman's position voted in - something I advocated for during the 5 months long transit strike - Canada's 2nd longest in history - where Chair Bill Fisch basically did nothing alongside Council, while people lost jobs, missed doctors appointments, school, surgeries, and went hungry.

Some still have not recovered, especially seniors who had jobs, now let go, as well as some young people who never got back on track for school. The Regional Councilors and Mayors of course are also to blame and should be punished at the ballot boxes for the fiasco, as well for wasting millions of dollars on a 7th Y.R. women's shelter while men die on the streets

YRMG won an award for our story but no changes for men.
Now they they giving him Character and man of the year awards.

Newmarket Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, for example used this issue - The false fact we have no women's shelters in Y.R. - to get reelected and used it for photo ops and sound bites at every turn - and still does. Backers conveniently added the word "single " after criticism. The reality is we have 7 shelters already dedicated to or shared with women - which stats actually indicate lower use in them as of 2012-13 and two winter ones as well that accept single women.

Tom speaks about homeless men / programs with CBC
It's also been commonly known for years, that women really needing a place in YR simply say they have been abuse victims and get shelter - not turned away - so no one was on the street where possible is the bottom line, and with the addition of a family shelter  now, we quite easily could simply have converted an existing shelter into one for "singles' over age 26 ( we have for under), but no, they had to build another, at now $9 million dollars and counting mausoleum - and bearing the name of the woman who was too busy to attend the Square Tables on Poverty and who not once showed up for Oct 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty events here - but somehow her name adorns this now to be Salvation Army run club.

S.A. may be "a Stalwart" in their world, but not in the world of the homeless according to the social audit that obviously wasn't used in making this decision - which often happens when boards are vacant of any grass roots input. Much simpler to have someone else run it now but keep the false perceptions of actual involvement up with her name etched on it. I say if she wants a legacy, pay for it, as she can certainly afford it. Why take the few funds available to Y.R.?

This quote is taken directly off the website for Belinda's Place

"Currently, there are NO beds allocated to homeless women in York Region." 

Which just emphasizes to me how this whole thing has been sold to the public.
7 of these 8 existing Y.R. shelters have beds for women.

Fairy Lake Park Newmarket
There are limited funds for housing and shelters, so it is vital any dollars available be directed to those most in need, and so when our social audit indicates we have mostly men living (and dying) in the streets but the politicians / media are able to instead convince people, without any concrete evidence other than skewed facts otherwise, such as the one they trotted out recently in the Era Banner by someone representing a shelter stating that 3,000 women sought shelters last year here. That's a lie. They are not persons, but CALLS, and if they call the wrong shelter or call back or are told to call somewhere else or to call back later to speak with another - as long as it doesn't result in a placement on any call - each  are counted as different 'people" not receiving shelter. So if someone calls 4 times before getting the the right person or department they are counted as 4 people. The same person can also return dozens of times a year but is counted as separate people. So that stat is a lie too.

Real "Hidden Homeless"
I wonder what that stat would be for the men - but they don't publish that in the Era Banner do they? Perhaps that's why Deborah Kelly who presented the "hidden homeless stats" etc to council, used when they were looking for funds and approval for "Belinda's Place", and who did not print any of our Letters to the Editor against the shelter idea, has been quietly let go from the newspaper as Editor in Chief. I hope so, as you'd think the only grass roots group representing those in poverty would get a voice - descending or not to an Editor's personal aspirations or feelings. Good luck to you!

What isn't a lie is that York Region has only 26 full time beds dedicated to men, with more than 4 times that number ALREADY available to women, yet men make up more than 90% of our street homeless...

TOM out.

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