Monday 29 November 1999

Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Mr Alan Borovoy
Mr Stephen McCammon

Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation
Mr John Fraser

Mennonite Central Committee Ontario
Mr Brian Enns
Ms Andrea Earl

Seaton-Ontario-Berkeley Residents' Association
Ms Gerri Orwin

Low Income Families Together
Ms Linda Walsh

Justice for Children and Youth
Mr Albert Koehl

Toronto Police Service
Mr Ken Kinsman

Hamilton Against Poverty
Ms Julie Gordon
Mr Wendell Fields
Mr Herbert Joseph

Community Social Planning Council of Toronto
Mr Peter Clutterbuck

National Anti-Poverty Organization
Ms Laurie Rector

Yonge Bloor Bay Association
Ms Margaret Knowles

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Mr Douglas Rutherford


Chair / Président
Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford PC)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président

Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex PC)
Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's L)
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph-Wellington PC)
Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa West-Nepean / Ottawa-Ouest-Nepean PC)
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre / -Centre ND)
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan L)
Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford PC)

Substitutions / Membres remplaçants

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge PC)
Mrs Tina R. Molinari (Thornhill PC)

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes

Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale / Toronto-Centre-Rosedale L)

Clerk / Greffière

Ms Susan Sourial

Staff / Personnel

Mr Avrum Fenson, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1537 in room 151.


Consideration of Bill 8, An Act to promote safety in Ontario by prohibiting aggressive solicitation, solicitation of persons in certain places and disposal of dangerous things in certain places, and to amend the Highway Traffic Act to regulate certain activities on roadways / Projet de loi 8, Loi visant à promouvoir la sécurité en Ontario en interdisant la sollicitation agressive, la sollicitation de personnes dans certains lieux et le rejet de choses dangereuses dans certains lieux, et modifiant le Code de la route afin de réglementer certaines activités sur la chaussée.

The Chair (Mr Joseph N. Tascona): I will bring the standing committee on justice and social policy to order.


The Chair: Our first presenter is the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Alan Borovoy, general counsel. Mr Borovoy, if you could come forward.

Members of the committee, if there is time left after each presentation, how would you like to proceed with respect to questions from each caucus?

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan): Because the agenda shows us finishing with presenters by 5:20, although we are a little bit late starting, could I suggest that we have some leeway in the Chair to extend each of the presentations by approximately two minutes? It still wouldn't take us back to 6 o'clock even with the late start so that you can allow questions-

The Chair: That wasn't the question. I just would like to know-we're late now-what the rotation would be of the questions. Would you like yourself, the opposition, and then the NDP and the governing party to have equal time?

Mrs McLeod: We'd be comfortable with that, Mr Chair, but if I may-

The Chair: We're 10 minutes late now.

Mrs McLeod: Right. Mr Chair, if I may make a motion then. Since the opposition parties were both here on time to begin the presentations on time, I would like to recommend that we make up for the lateness in the government members attending and the committee hearing starting by extending the presentation time for the presenters so that there's no shortage of time for each of them.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): Agreed.

The Chair: I don't know if that's going to leave us enough time, to be honest with you. Our last presenter was scheduled for 5:20. Now it would be 5:30. We have 11 presenters, so we're going to be pretty tight. I'll put the motion forward.

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I'm sorry, Mr Chairman. I don't know whether we can sit past 6 o'clock. The standing orders provide that we end at 6 o'clock unfortunately, and I don't think the motion is therefore proper. This committee cannot amend the standing orders, and we must rise at 6 o'clock.

Mr Kormos: Call the question.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): Could you repeat the motion?

The Chair: The motion is to extend each presenter with two minutes to make presentations.

Mrs McLeod: Then is it possible, even with the late start for the committee, to give each presenter a full 10 minutes?

Mr Kormos: Call the question.

The Chair: We have another person who has requested to make a presentation, so we're going to have to live with what we have in terms of presenters if your motion goes through.

Mrs McLeod: I'll amend the motion then. I'll withdraw the motion and place a different motion, and that's that each presenter be given the full 10 minutes despite our late start so as we not curtail their time. They get the 10 minutes as recommended, even though it would take them a couple of minutes past the time that's shown for their presentation.

The Chair: We're going to proceed with what we've got scheduled here. You're withdrawing your motion. Maybe we can proceed now.

Mr Borovoy, if you could maybe introduce yourself. If you do have a written presentation, I'd say to any of the presenters, we'd appreciate getting that to the clerk.

Mr Alan Borovoy: I'm Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. On my right and your left is our associate counsel, Stephen McCammon, and on the right side of me is Andy McDonald-Romano. I trust, Mr Chairman, that those introductions will not be deducted from my 10 minutes.

In view of the shortness of time, we have decided to limit our remarks to the panhandling part of the bill. This is not to say that the squeegeeing part is acceptable-it is not-but it is simply because the panhandling part lies more squarely within the mandate of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The key civil liberty at issue is freedom of speech. In a democratic society this means the opportunity to appeal to members of the public to support our various causes and interests. It might mean asking for votes at election time, asking for signatures on a petition, asking for attendance at a meeting or asking for money for just about anything. Those with means, the more advantaged members of society, can use their wealth to extend their influence: They can importune decision-makers; they can advertise in the media. Those without means have to rely on what they can do by word of mouth, and it's for that reason that only the most compelling of social interests can justify infringing upon freedom of speech. It is hard to find such compelling interests in the bill that we're dealing with here.

Where it does address issues of genuine harm, it's probably already unlawful. It is likely unlawful, for example, to make threats, to threaten people with physical harm, to obstruct their movements or to follow them about in a persistent and harassing manner. I suggest that's already unlawful, though in principle we're not opposed to legislation of that kind. But as for the rest of it, why, for example, do we have this section saying you cannot solicit money from people at transit stops, telephone booths, taxi stands and the like?

In this connection, I'm reminded of a speech I heard many years ago when I was at law school. We had a speech from Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice of the United States Supreme Court. He was also the lawyer who had successfully argued the famous school desegregation case. He was telling us how time and again people he would talk to would invoke the spectre of intermarriage as though that were relevant to the issue before him and he said he had worked out a stock answer to it. He said, "If a black man proposes to your daughter, all she has to do is say no."

Similarly, may we suggest that if somebody solicits money from somebody at a taxi stand, a bus depot or wherever, all they have to do is say no. Remember, those who solicit will not be able to commit or threaten physical violence, they will not be able to obstruct their movements, and they will not be able to follow them about in a harassing fashion. So what are we worried about?

Moreover, I suggest that the definition of "soliciting" is so broad that it could catch almost any one of us. I don't think I've ever met anyone who hasn't run out of change at a telephone booth. Do we really want to make it unlawful for them to ask somebody for a quarter? I don't know if there are still any pay toilets in this province, but if there are, I would suggest that if anyone really needs to use the facilities and finds themselves without money, it would be in the public interest for him to ask for change.

Can this bill stretch to a point that it can catch buskers in some subways or perhaps even the Salvation Army? What advice are we going to give to those selling Remembrance Day poppies and Boy Scout apples? They better beware that their enthusiasm does not lead them afoul of this bill.

When this bill was first introduced, I described it to a member of the press as mean and silly. I am quite prepared to repeat those adjectives here today and to add one more consideration: We believe that this bill is capable of making Ontario the target of widespread ridicule. For all these reasons, we suggest that the best way to dispose of this bill is to dispose of this bill. All of which is, as always, respectfully submitted.

The Chair: Any comments from the people who are with you, Mr Borovoy?

Mr Borovoy: Only if I have time in rebuttal.

Mr Stephen McCammon: We'll leave the time for questions.

The Chair: OK, thank you. We have about four minutes. This will be split between each caucus, so we start with the Liberals.

Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's): Mr Borovoy, have you considered whether or not the provision on solicitation in effect just duplicates the Canadian Criminal Code provisions on assault, or do you think it widens them and, if so, does that mean that not only would there be a charter challenge, which you've suggested, but also a challenge on the basis under the Constitution Act, 1867?

Mr Borovoy: Sections 91 and 92. I'm not certain how far it would be subject to a legal challenge that way. Suffice it to say that they are very close to the offences in the Criminal Code. Constitutional considerations aside, from the standpoint of social policy, I can't fathom what point there is in basically putting into provincial legislation what already exists in the Criminal Code as far as these items are concerned. And that is, as I say, the only place where the panhandling part of the bill addresses potentially really harmful conduct. The rest of it isn't harmful at all.

Mr Kormos: Mr Borovoy, you raised the spectre of a person at a phone booth running out of change, a person in a charge washroom running out of change. Of course, our firefighters on Labour Day weekends when they're out there with their buckets raising money for good causes across the province would fall into that category.

That's what struck me, because my colleagues from my caucus and I today went out and squeegeed cars here in the Queen's Park parking lot at lunchtime. We were white, male, middle age, unfortunately, and middle class. I'm wondering if you've thought about the fact that it isn't really conduct here that's being prohibited or targeted, be it in panhandling or indeed squeegeeing. Is it the conduct that's being targeted or is it certain classes of people that are in fact being targeted?

Mr Borovoy: As far as the squeegeeing part is concerned, here too any genuinely harmful conduct caused by a squeegee is likely already unlawful. You can't obstruct cars on the roadway. You can't handle people's property in ways they don't want you to. That's already unlawful. Why then should we have a law that punishes all the others for the misdeeds of a few? I would suggest the proper balance is then to enforce the law against those who are violating it and leave the others alone.

The Chair: Thanks very much. That's about all the time we have with respect to the presentation, Mr Borovoy.

Mr Borovoy: None from the other side of the House, Mr Chair?

The Chair: I wanted to be generous with the other side because they were late.

Mr Kormos: I move that the Conservative caucus have three minutes in which to pose questions in view of the excess amount of time we have available to us today.

The Chair: We don't have excess available time.

Mr Kormos: I just made a motion, Chair.

The Chair: Those in favour of the motion, say "aye."

Mr Martiniuk: Excuse me. We have so many people to hear. We must rise at 6 o'clock because those are the rules of the House, and I am concerned that individuals would like to preclude the last few presenters from presenting their views before this committee. I think we must take all steps to oppose this to ensure-

Mr Kormos: I think we're paid well enough that we can sit past 6 o'clock.

Mr Martiniuk: Excuse me. Is that what the rules say?

Mr Kormos: I think we're paid well enough that we can sit past 6 o'clock if need be.

Mr Martiniuk: Well, you've never obeyed the rules before, Mr Kormos, so I can see you don't want to do it now.

The Chair: We've got a motion on the floor. Those in favour of the motion?

Mr Kormos: Recorded vote.


Kormos, McLeod, Bryant.


Beaubien, Molinari, Martiniuk.

The Chair: The motion is lost. Let's proceed.


The Chair: We'll have a five-minute recess.

The committee recessed from 1551 to 1554.


The Chair: The next group to present is the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation: John Fraser, program coordinator. I'd like to welcome you to the hearings. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Mr John Fraser: Thank you, Mr Chair. My name is John Fraser. I'm the program coordinator with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation. My co-worker here, A'Amer Ather, also works with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation.

We're a provincial human rights organization that was set up about 12 years ago to help promote human rights protections for low-income households and to help low-income households enforce their human rights protections. We were very concerned when we saw Bill 8 and the contents of Bill 8.

I just have a brief presentation I'd like to make. In CERA's view, Bill 8 conforms with an emerging pattern of Canadian legislators to show less and less concern about alleviating poverty and much more interest in legislating poverty into invisibility. The hostility towards poor people that has manifested itself in unprecedented cuts to social assistance and social programs now manifests itself in an attempt to criminalize poverty and homelessness. In promoting a society which is marred by depths of poverty that we have not seen in a generation in Ontario at the same time as criminalizing the poor in an unprecedented manner, this government, in our view, is taking us back to the outlook of previous centuries.

Bill 8 has been drafted so as to try to avoid claims that it is discriminatory. It does not make it illegal to beg for money or to be homeless, but rather makes it illegal to solicit while intoxicated, for example, to solicit money from people waiting in line for public transit, or to solicit persistently. On its face, it does not discriminate against those who are poor or homeless. Theoretically, Conrad Black could be arrested for trying to sell a copy of the National Post to a person at a streetcar stop if the police felt it was necessary to ascertain his identity. In fact, of course, it is poor people and homeless people who are being criminalized by this bill.

In the 18th century, Anatole France observed that the equality of the law in his day did not amount to much for poor people. He observed that the law, in its "majestic equality," prohibits rich and poor alike from begging on the streets and sleeping under bridges.

This type of illusory or formal equality has been consistently rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada in its consideration of equality rights under human rights legislation and under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As the court had previously noted in its famous case of O'Malley v Simpsons-Sears, a discriminatory intent can easily be cloaked in apparently neutral rules. It does not matter whether this bill explicitly mentions homeless or poor people. If the effect is discriminatory, then the legislation will run contrary to the guarantees of equality in our charter.

We believe it is clear both from the government's commentary about this legislation and from its provisions that the effect will be to establish the basis for a police attack on a vulnerable and disadvantaged group on behalf of the more advantaged members in our society.

Why is it illegal to beg for money while intoxicated when it is not illegal to carouse drunk supporting a baseball or football team? It is no more threatening for someone to be asked for money for a coffee than to be accosted by a group of drunken sports fans trying to enlist vocal support for their team. The difference is in who does the activity, not in how threatening it is.

Women waiting for telephones or buses are routinely sexually harassed. Visible minorities face racial harassment routinely in such places. Sadly, in most instances the harassers are immune even from the mild complaints procedure under Ontario's Human Rights Code. Is being asked for money from a woman needing food to feed her children more threatening than sexual or racial harassment? Of course not. This bill is not aimed at protecting people from real harm. It is aimed at criminalizing a vulnerable group.

The list of places in which begging is prohibited is described as a list of places from which a person cannot easily depart or from which they would not wish to depart until they have achieved their purpose, done their business. In fact, they are mainly places in which people are standing around and are therefore more likely to have the time and inclination to make a donation to someone. They are the same places that Conrad Black places his National Post boxes or that the Ontario government places its election advertisements: bus stops, taxi stands, public facilities that attract pedestrian traffic or parking lots where the more affluent must leave their cars and have the time to read posters or to consider a plea for compassion and generosity.


In CERA's view, for all the valiant efforts of your legal advisers to charter-proof the bill, it would be found in its present form to violate section 15, the equality rights section of the Canadian charter, as well as other provisions dealing with freedom of expression and liberty.

Section 15 protects historically disadvantaged groups from government actions which impact on them in a negative way. Most of us are familiar with the groups that are protected from state discrimination. We know that people cannot be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, their sex, their sexual orientation, the level of their physical disability, their nationality or a whole host of other grounds.

Presumably, if the Legislature were considering passage of a piece of legislation which specifically targeted behaviour that was associated with any of the groups mentioned above, it would seriously question the charter implications of its decision. Legislation criminalizing a certain form of prayer, for example, would be vulnerable to a serious charter challenge, charter scrutiny, and everyone would know it. The same situation in our view arises here.

We have a piece of legislation which criminalizes a behaviour, begging or squeegeeing, which is associated with a particular social group, the poor, and particularly the homeless. Its purpose and effect is not to protect people from harm or to regulate business in the public interest; rather it is a deliberate effort to get these people off the streets, as politicians have described it, and to ensure that the affluent can carry on their lives without coming into contact with the poverty that is increasingly in their midst.

More affluent people use public spaces to make telephone calls, park their cars, use instant teller machines, walk along the sidewalk to their favourite café or bar, or catch a taxi. Poor people do not enjoy these uses of public spaces. They increasingly rely on public spaces to solicit donations in order to be able to meet their most basic necessities.

Similarly the more affluent use roadways to drive downtown to their work or entertainment. Homeless youth use the same roadways to offer to wash windows in the hope of receiving a small payment. Legislation which aims at ensuring that people are not improperly obstructed from enjoying these uses of public spaces would be legitimate, just as legislation which that squeegee kids did not obstruct traffic might be an appropriate public interest goal. That is not what this legislation is about in our view. By prohibiting certain activity, it banishes certain people, trying to ensure that the affluent don't have to be bothered by these people when they venture into public spaces.

A number of courts have recognized that poor people are subject to discrimination and are therefore entitled to the Canadian charter's protection against discrimination. While there is as yet no case law on it, CERA believes that homeless people as well are a group which the courts will find to be protected from discriminatory treatment.

In Western societies there has been a long history of anti-homeless legislation. They were passed during the 14th century to keep labourers tied to their masters during times of labour shortage. By the 16th century, however, they had been applied more generally against the homeless.

An English variant, for example, required that any arrested idle person found guilty of vagrancy should be whipped in the marketplace until they were bloody. This law marked a changed attitude towards people who were unattached to a particular place or position. Beggars and vagrants who were once respected as the children of God in more religious times quickly came to be seen as a threat to a society becoming increasingly loyal to secular values and productivity and material wealth.

Examples of the criminalization of homelessness also started to appear in the 18th century in North America, with New York's anti-transient poor law being one of the front-runners.

History points to a remarkable thematic consistency in the treatment of homeless people in society. Homeless people historically have been punished for their economic disadvantage and our societies have consistently distinguished them for unfavourable treatment. Physical mobility or liberties have been restricted, particularly with the advent of workhouses, and brutal punishment has been meted out when individuals were not found tied to a particular place.

Legislation which unjustifiably draws discriminatory distinctions or which has the effect of creating discriminatory distinctions between a disadvantaged group and more advantaged members of our society, and which perpetuates or exacerbates this disadvantage of the group, will be found generally to violate section 15 of the charter.

Bill 8 creates a distinction between those who are homeless or in need of begging and those who are more advantaged by prohibiting the use of public spaces on which the former rely for their livelihood. The law, like so many discriminatory laws in the past, criminalizes a behaviour which is usually associated with homeless people. Its purpose is essentially discriminatory, to ensure that affluent people do not have to come in contact with the needs of those who are homeless.

In conclusion, we urge this committee to reject Bill 8 and focus its attention not on criminalizing homelessness or the poor but on alleviating poverty and eliminating homelessness in Ontario.


The Chair: Our next presenter is the Mennonite Central Committee. We have Brian Enns and Andrea Earl, if they could come forward.

Thank you very much for coming today. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Mr Brian Enns: The rhetoric of safety that surrounds Bill 8 should make us realize that this bill is being used to institutionalize conflict between people. By criminalizing behaviour that is deemed threatening to some people, the government is employing measures, such as fines and jail terms, that address a perceived problem and not the actual problem. A perceived problem is that some people are threatened by the conduct of other people. A perceived problem is understood as a person-to-person relationship; for instance, one motorist feels threatened by the squeegee person.

The actual problem, however, is within the community. Stereotypes about squeegee people and those addicted to drugs perpetuate the conflict within communities. Unfortunate incidents, where the inappropriate conduct of one squeegee kid is assumed to be representative of all squeegee people, make it difficult to understand who squeegee people truly are.

It also makes it difficult for us to ask the hard question, as Ms McLeod did in the Legislature: Why are these people squeegeeing? This question is not as easily answered as some might suspect. Stable jobs with good wages and permanent housing are answers, but they do not address the problems of the community: stereotypes of people who live and work on the streets, conflict within the community and how to build peaceful relationships that foster the love embodied by Christ.

Fines and jail terms are answers that the government has proposed to end aggressive solicitation and other offences. Mr Martiniuk told the Legislature that this bill is introducing stronger measures to punish people. The bill would serve to punish the offender through policing and legal systems that tend to ignore the needs of the offender, the victims and the broken community. Building healthy communities, a more holistic vision than a safe community, is not about removing the perceived problem, a person who may be a victim himself or herself.

There's nothing within the bill proposed or the remarks made by the Attorney General that offers a vision of building healthy and peaceful communities. This bill would undermine the activities of people working towards justice, peace and compassion for all people.

Mennonite Central Committee Ontario has used community mediation models for 25 years. VORP, the victim-offender reconciliation program, is relevant and models a viable alternative to the crude justice of the proposed bill. Here are some examples of how VORP works: A teen breaks into a young couple's home; the teen faces them, apologizes and together they agree on restitution. A single mother faces problems of anger and theft with her child; restitution, counselling and support from the church community provide reconciliation.

VORP ensures that both the victim and the offender are part of the process of restorative justice.

Mennonite Central Committee Ontario encourages the committee on justice and social policy and the government to consider community mediation models in an effort to build healthy and peaceful communities, not just safe communities.

In order to speak for those people who are affected most by this bill, I now would like to introduce Andrea Earl, who works for Evergreen.

Ms Andrea Earl: Hi. I work for a drop-in centre on Yonge Street-I'm sure you've all heard of it-called Evergreen, with Yonge Street Mission. I work with these youth. This bill concerns me because I see these youth as a minority, and I think this bill makes safe streets for people who have a voice, but is it safe for squeegee youths? I'd like to explain a little who squeegee youths are, besides the generalizations that come across, especially in the media.


Street youths make money in four different ways. One would be squeegeeing, the second would be panhandling, the third would be through the sex trade and the fourth would be through the drug trade. Taking panhandling and squeegeeing out leaves two options for them. It's difficult for youths to find jobs. It's difficult for street youths to even get their ID. Once they get involved in these things, it's even harder for them to get out of it.

Who are these street youths? They're kids who come from the suburbs; they're kids who have specific stories of their own. I don't think they should be overlooked in this. If they end up getting fined, they obviously cannot pay these fines so they will have a warrant for arrest and will be jailed. It costs more to jail these youths than to set up shelters for them. To have a youth overnight in a shelter is a lot less money than to have a youth in jail. Not only that, but when youths go underground, into things like the sex trade and drug trade, it's harder to find them and get them out of that position.

Who are the streets safe for? I don't think they're safe for these youths who don't have homes. This is just making it harder for them. That's what I wanted to share today. If there are any other options that you guys could think of-I know Winnipeg has something where you license squeegee youths. I really hope you guys will think more about this than maybe covering up a problem of homelessness. That won't go away.

The Chair: Anything further? I'd like to thank you for your time. We appreciate it.


The Chair: The next group we have is SOBRA, the Seaton-Ontario-Berkley Residents' Association, Gerri Orwin. Thank you for coming. You may proceed.

Ms Gerri Orwin: I represent SOBRA today. SOBRA does support this bill. My name is Gerri Orwin. I work on a drugs and prostitution working committee of SOBRA. SOBRA is a residents' group formed 10 years ago. We live downtown in the Cabbagetown area. In the beginning, we were fighting street-level crime on our own. We went to many politicians back in 1990 and no one would help us, so we had the option of selling or standing up and trying to protect our own streets, and we chose the latter.

The bill caught our eye mainly because of the words "condoms," "needles" and "penalties." The reason for that is that's what we're inundated with, and have been for the last 10 years.

I wish, in 10 minutes, I could give you at least two minutes of what has gone on in that time. I can't do it; I can't possibly paint you a picture. But I want to tell you a few things about why we're in favour of a safety on the streets act.

I'll start with the condoms, because that was the first thing that caught our eye. The condoms, of course, have people attached to them called pimps, And the pimps call the drug-addicted women that they unfortunately own, their bitches. The upstanding citizen, the john, who comes into our area on his way to work looking for a quickie, or the guy delivering for his company through the day stopping for a quickie, are all looking for that crack-addicted woman run by the pimps, who in most cases are also their drug suppliers.

We have had to put fencing in front of our homes because when we left for work we would have hookers servicing their johns on our front porches; we'd have the pimps sitting on our steps. People have gone as far now as putting locks on the gates of their fences so that not even a postman can deliver the post. We took down the fencing we had in our backyards and erected 8-foot, 10-foot fences, in some cases higher, around our back properties, again to keep out the dealers who were using our backyards to run their business while we were out through the daytime. We even had hookers servicing their johns in our backyards at night, using our picnic tables, while we were home. So up went the fences.

We bought big dogs. I'm one of them. I have a dog so big and so strong I just cannot walk him. We have security systems. It goes on and on. We have written the book on neighbourhoods trying to take back their streets on their own, and I'm telling you, we're really tired. We see a glimmer of hope in this act. We are hoping you're going to help us.

The laneways are filthy. The laneways are cluttered with syringes and condoms. In October, 36 of us got up one morning at 9 o'clock on a Saturday. We met in the laneways with our garbage bags, our heavy gloves and our shovels, and we cleaned two of the major laneways that children travel back and forth from school several times a day. The reason they use the laneways is because their mothers don't want them out on the main street. Unfortunately, the street-level criminals, as we call them, are also using those laneways. We filled over a hundred bags with debris-some things I wouldn't even tell you about-condoms galore. We picked a total, in separate containers for the city, of 46 needles.

We have a program in the area called Harm Reduction. They give out clean needles for addicts, and it probably does reduce the harm while they're still sober, but once they're high I can't imagine that they care anymore. The needles are scattered all over our area. It has brought more harm to our area. Where before we might pick up, on a Saturday morning out cleaning, maybe two or three needles, now we're picking up 46, which means that a child, running and scampering down that laneway to school, who's always tripping and falling, has 46 more chances of falling on a used needle now than he did before.

The needles are another big problem. They're found in all our schoolyards, in our laneways, the same places. A neighbour of mine, the other day, took his little two-year old girl to a parkette. It's mainly used by toddlers. All the play structures are tiny, for the small children. His little girl ran around and fell down, and as he went to pick her up, he noticed that her hand had fallen on a used condom. When he picked her up he noticed she had semen on her hand. This man phoned me, and I don't have the words to describe to you the emotion in that man's voice. I'm afraid that he and his wife will have their For Sale sign up very shortly. We're losing so many good people because nobody, to this point, has helped us, except the police. I have to tell you that they have been excellent. I'm afraid that the police, at this point, feel that they are not backed by politicians and by the courts.

I want to tell you about this program that was instigated six years ago; I am the volunteer coordinator of it. It is called the community witness program. We go to court when we get the phone call telling us that one of the major criminals on our streets has been convicted once again. We go there, we talk to the judges and we ask them to please start putting these people in jail. These are not people who have 10 prior convictions. These are people with 20, 30-and the winner of all time is 68; 68 convictions and they're put back out on our streets. The judges say: "Why are you bothering me? This is a pain-in-the-neck petty crime. Selling drugs is not the end of the world. I have other important cases to try." They say it is a victimless crime, and a victimless crime to them means, "We have a willing buyer and a willing seller, so what's the harm?"


The harm is to our entire neighbourhood, and it's been going on now for 10 years. The police go in there, they are treated like the enemy. The judge does not want to hear from police who are out there arresting. I've been out with them in the daytime. They go out, they get punched, they get stabbed, they get knifed, they get spit at, they get bitten by HIV-infected hookers; and some of course die, as we all know. These police cannot tell you how discouraged they are. They are kept from telling you by their superiors.

We're asking for one change in your bill. We notice that under penalties you're suggesting the maximums, and the maximums are fine, but the "suggesting" is where we are frightened to death that nothing is going to come of this bill. Those judges don't want to be bothered with these petty crimes, as they see them. We've asked before and we'll ask again: Is there some way that you can find to take these petty crimes out of the judges' daily lives, take them off their work plate, set them aside, set up a system where when someone reoffends for the umpteenth time, you have an escalating scale of penalties? That way, you attach a penalty to a law. That way, the police know they're not going to be wasting their time. That way, we then know we're not wasting our time going to court and feeling like the criminals walking out.

This is what I'm here to tell you all today. I am telling you we are happy that you're trying something, but we seriously ask you to look at mandatory sentencing.

The Chair: Thanks very much, Gerri. We're out of time for your presentation. I appreciate it.


The Chair: The next group to present is Low Income Families-

Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale): Mr Chairman, use the allocation of time from previous speakers. We were given another 10 minutes from the-

The Chair: Have you been substituted here? I think you're an extra.

Mr Smitherman: I think I'm allowed to ask questions.

Mr Kormos: He's entitled to speak under the rules.

The Chair: I'm going to get back to the hearings here.

Mr Smitherman: I'd like to pose a question, if I could, please.

The Chair: Next is Low Income Families Together. I'd like to hear the presenters and not the politicians. Is this Linda Walsh?

Ms Linda Walsh: Yes, it is.

The Chair: Thank you, Linda. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation. Thank you for coming.

Ms Walsh: First of all, I'd like to thank you for allowing me to present to this committee the opinions of Low Income Families Together on the bill known as the Safe Streets Act. First, I'd like to tell you a little bit about Low Income Families Together. Our organization is a non-profit that strives to assist low-income individuals find their place and their voice in this harsh political climate. We offer those who have an interest access to a series of engaging and interactive workshops that can assist them in understanding the current economic reality. We believe that knowledge is power and the more knowledge a low-income individual is given, the better they can be prepared for dealing with the tremendous stress imposed on them by our changing social support system. Our three areas of interest are human rights, self-help advocacy and community economic development.

We're a grassroots organization that has been around for nearly a decade. We work with low-income individuals and groups to assist them in their wish for change. We're proud of our contribution to the Ontario People's Report to the United Nations and are equally proud of our community business partnerships. We have in this last year assisted several members of our community find alternatives to Ontario Works and watched them become self-confident and self-sufficient by returning to school, finding employment or becoming a partner in a community business.

We're not afraid to speak out about the thousands of Ontario citizens who are hungry, homeless, helpless and yes, even lost. We acknowledge that a community is built one brick at a time, and usually this method takes a little longer, but the lasting results make the investment of time and resources more beneficial in the long run.

I've come here today in response to the call for consultation by your committee. LIFT, I'd like everyone to know, is opposed to the littering of parks and playgrounds with glass, needles and condoms. We also are opposed to citizens acting in a threatening way towards each other on the streets of our communities. However, due to time constraints I'll limit my comments to the parts of this bill that affect low-income people who currently engage in the practice of squeegeeing car and truck windows, begging for money and hitching rides in our city.

My comments are based on the experience LIFT has had with economic development projects over the last six years. Our first successful business venture is a full-service computer store-this will be a small plug-at 145 Front Street East, called Computer Access for Everyone. It has a 12-workstation training room, computer sales, service and software. The reason I mention our community business is because in this business everyone involved in it-the partners, the employees-are all people who formerly were street people and people on assistance.

I've noted that the people who find themselves working on the corners of Toronto streets, squeegeeing and what not, are by far the hardest group of young people to reach. Their needs are greater than most. They don't have access to services that are appropriate for their enormous needs. We found that when we're trying to build community businesses using marginalized groups of people, they take more than six months to click in, to become productive citizens.

Most of the programs that are out there for young people today are short-term, and we as an organization feel that squeegee kids and those who find themselves without adequate support need longer programs and programs that have a wider reach. The programs that we offer to people who come to our organization encompass the whole person. We deal with them on an emotional level. We try to make sure that their basic needs for housing, food and shelter are met.

My reason for mentioning all of this is that the kids who are on the streets squeegeeing don't have access to appropriate services, and therefore they also don't have any money. So we think that imposing a $5 fine on these people who are least able to pay is not really appropriate. There should be some other way to penalize them for trying to make a buck in the city.

As a government, if all of your services were looked at in a pile almost, if you combine social services with perhaps some kind of a penalty that would incorporate maybe making them go for some kind of long-term training, it would be more beneficial than giving them a criminal record, because sometimes all these kids need is just a chance. I think it's really important not to ruin them right from the start by charging them and giving them a record over squeegeeing. In days gone by, that entrepreneurial kind of spirit would have been thought of as a great thing. At least they weren't begging.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on the subject. I think that there has to be something done, but I think your penalty is too harsh for people who are just trying to make a buck. I don't agree with people who threaten or harass other people, but just for trying to get by, I think $5 fines and imprisonment are too high a price for them to pay.


The Chair: Thank you. Each party has a minute.

Mr Kormos: It costs, again depending upon where you are, $80 to $100 a day to keep somebody in a local detention centre like Metro West or Metro East, perhaps even up to $110 to $120 a day. That's $3,000 a month. If you and your organization had that $3,000-that's what it would cost to keep a squeegee kid in jail for a month-what sort of things could you be out there doing?

Ms Walsh: We could be offering more counselling, more support, training environments for them. We could be training and assisting them to actually become productive and feel better about themselves so they could actually approach a regular organization and ask for a job and be successful.

Mr Kormos: Thanks for coming out.

Mr Beaubien: Ms Walsh, thank you for your presentation. You mentioned that you feel we should not impose a fine, that it might be too severe. How would you deal with the culprit?

Ms Walsh: Depending on the situation, most people who squeegee aren't violent. I don't know.

Mr Beaubien: It's a difficult situation, isn't it, especially when we had the previous presenter? We all have rights, I guess, but I heard the previous presenter and some of the questions and I think you're having a tough time balancing the situation. How do we deal with it?

Ms Walsh: The only thing I can think of is if the government chose to have long-term training plans for people who are living on the street like that, incorporating them into community businesses or training programs which would actually help them rather than punish them. Teenagers, as most of us know, are sort of at a crisis time in their lives anyway and to be saddled with some kind of criminal record, because they were trying to make a dollar, seems totally unreasonable. I can understand the last presenter's point about having pimps and prostitutes, but I'm not really addressing that part of the bill; I'm just talking about squeegee kids.

Mr Smitherman: Ms Walsh, a couple of people earlier, Andrea Earl from Evergreen and also the SHOUT clinic which was introduced and does a lot of work with street-involved youth had indicated that of the four sources of income that are available to lower-income people, particularly youth, squeegeeing may be the least offensive from the standpoint of impact on the community. Is that something that's reflected in the work you've done within LIFT, that other options in some cases are worse for them?

Ms Walsh: Oh, yes. One of the things I meant to mention is that if a kid is faced with having to go to jail because he squeegeed, it may make him up the ante. He already has nothing to lose, so what would stop him at that point from saying, "Well, if I'm going to go to jail anyway, why don't I just rob this person or break into that house or whatever?" It might even escalate violent behaviour of street people just because of the penalty imposed.

The Chair: I'd like to thank you very much for coming


The Chair: Next is Justice for Children and Youth. We have Albert Koehl, a lawyer. Mr Koehl, thank you for coming. We have 10 minutes for you to make your presentation.

Mr Albert Koehl: Thank you, Mr Chair, and thank you to the members of the committee for giving us the time to make this presentation. Justice for Children and Youth is a community legal clinic that was established more than 20 years ago. Our clientele are children and youth under 18 who have problems with the law or simply need help in the areas of education, welfare and health.

We also advocate publicly on issues that affect youth. Certainly this issue is one that affects youth, and in this case I'm referring specifically to the part of Bill 8 which deals with squeegee kids.

The fundamental question that I believe we need to ask is, what will happen to the children and youth if they don't have this source of income available to them? In other words, where will these young people go and what will they do?

In my presentation I want to deal with four areas very quickly. First of all, I want to deal with the parts of this issue that we can all agree on. Secondly, I want to deal with the context of this issue. Thirdly, what will be the impact of imposing, putting in place, implementing a law to outlaw squeegeeing? Fourthly, what are some of our options in this particular case?

Firstly, in terms of what we can agree on, we agree that if a car driver refuses a squeegee service, they're entitled to do that. In fact you would be surprised to find, if you talk to squeegee kids, that a lot of them agree with that, because of course they know that if there are other squeegeers who are not following a particular conduct, that hurts their livelihood, their opportunity to make money, just as for instance I, as a lawyer, know that if there are other lawyers who are dishonest, in the long run that hurts my profession, hurts my ability to earn a living.

We also agree that car drivers, residents, businesses have the right to be free of people damaging their cars, have the right to be free of, for instance, things that have been mentioned: drug use, threats, indecent acts.

We all so much agree on this that this is part of our criminal law. But the fact that we notice that many of these children are dirty, that they perhaps haven't washed properly, that they wear metal objects in parts of their bodies we might not wear metal objects, those are things we can't simply then characterize as criminal activity. These other things I've mentioned are criminal acts, and of course our law prohibits those acts.

We agree, I believe, that some squeegee kids come from suburbs in the warm weather, we agree that some are from out of town, we agree that some are not kids and we also agree that squeegeeing at the moment is not illegal.

Let me then agree with what I believe is the crux of the issue. First of all, we are dealing with young people. The Community Social Planning Council of Toronto surveyed 71 squeegee kids last year and found that two thirds are under 21. Most are homeless; the same study found that in fact 76% of those kids are homeless.

We know that there is a severe shortage of affordable housing in Toronto. We know that many of these kids have left abusive homes. We know that many of these children and youth can't find employment and many of them lack the necessary skills. We also know that the youth unemployment rate is quite high, at about 16.2%. We also know that the welfare laws have been changed to make it much more difficult for 16- and 17-year-olds to support themselves once they've been kicked out of home or have had to leave abusive homes. It's more difficult for them to receive social assistance and therefore to support themselves.

I want to tell you what I believe will be the impact of the legal response that is being proposed, and I tell you that in part as a former prosecutor with the Ministry of the Attorney General where I worked for some years.

The law that will make this legal activity illegal and allow police to intervene does not have enforceable penalties. Of the penalties in this particular case of fines and imprisonment, certainly imprisonment can be enforced but the fines themselves will simply lead children and youth to further squeegeeing activity or other activity that is even less desirable. In other words, what we may very well do with this law is lead to a trivialization of the legal process because we have a law that cannot be enforced by the way it's being proposed.

Enforcement will be quite expensive. Police work is necessary; we need lawyers, judges, corrections officials. What the community should know is that we will have to divert police resources from other areas of criminal enforcement. In other words, as to those police officers who perhaps are stopping the indecent acts going on in people's back yards, the drug use, the disposal of needles which presumably carry drugs and are therefore illegal, we'll be diverting resources from that.

Also acceptance of the law in the public could be infringed, because of course in this case we are targeting a particularly disadvantaged group, that being disadvantaged youth, and the acceptance of any law or the force of any law will depend very much on its acceptance by the community at large.

Finally, this law will be changing a highly visible activity, one that you can easily monitor, to one that is potentially and much more likely to be something underground, less desirable and more costly to the community. For instance, as to activity that is already criminal, that being break and enters, prostitution and drug dealing, a recent University of Guelph study has confirmed that, saying that squeegeers in general are less likely to be involved in petty crime, prostitution and drug dealing.


Finally, let me suggest to you what are potential community responses. I say this firstly because, of course, squeegee kids are part of our community, just as the businesses, car drivers, pedestrians, and others that are affected by this activity are part of our community. The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, for instance, suggested that this activity could be regulated through a system whereby a local social service agency receives a permit from the city and then is responsible for particular commercial areas. In that particular commercial area that social service agency will give out a restricted number of permits, have the squeegee kids identified as such and in that way make sure that the activity doesn't go on on every single corner and that there's a code of conduct that the squeegee kids are adhering to. If you say you don't want your windshield wiped, it won't be wiped. That's the code of conduct that then must be respected by the squeegee kids.

The other ways of dealing with this issue are longer-term solutions dealing with the problems of lack of skills of some of our youth, lack of affordable housing, lack of education alternatives and the problem with welfare eligibility.

Another option is simply to speak to these kids. Many of you would be surprised. These kids are part of our community. They're trying to survive and they're trying to do something useful so that they can survive. In fact, many of you might agree that if we saw some of these kids sitting on the street corner doing nothing, we might say to them: "Why don't you do something? Maybe wash someone's window."

We aren't trying to convince people that squeegeeing is desirable. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's a manifestation of a deeper societal ill that requires us to work as a community to solve the problem. We don't want to further polarize the community. We understand the legitimate concerns on both sides of the arguments. When we say "these people," we need to recognize that these people that we're talking about could very well be our children.


The Chair: Our next presenter is the Toronto Police Service, Staff Sergeant Ken Kinsman. Thank you, Mr Kinsman. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Mr Ken Kinsman: My name is Staff Sergeant Ken Kinsman. I'm a member of the Toronto Police Service and have been so for the past 25 years. My experience is that of a front-line police officer. The majority of my postings have been within the downtown core of the city of Toronto. I have considerable experience in community policing and I'm actively involved in solving complicated community problems in partnership with the numerous community groups within the inner-city area.

The question I wish to provide perspective to today is: Why is the enforcement by police towards disorder issues so important? Are squeegees and aggressive panhandlers the most important problems for the police to solve? The answer is definitely no. Are they important issues for the police service to be concerned about? A definite yes.

My rationale for this is if you would please envision it as a pyramid of crime. Picture the street-level drug dealer on top of this pyramid. Directly beneath that are the consumers of drugs, the prostitutes, the pimps. This layer is followed by those who steal and those who make a living dealing with stolen property. Beneath this layer there are those who go about publicly intoxicated, aggressive panhandlers, aggressive drivers, and I lump the squeegees in with this group at this level. The final layer of this pyramid involves graffiti and garbage and litter issues.

This pyramid of crime makes disorder issues an important problem for the police to solve. One does not topple a pyramid by pushing at the top; one erodes it from the bottom. Solving or prohibiting these small acts will definitely affect and have a powerful impact on solving crime in general. It is my position that disorder issues are the most serious problem facing communities today. At the numerous community meetings I have attended, disorder issues are the most prevalent problems discussed. It's not uncommon for a bank robbery or another serious type of crime to occur within a neighbourhood, and at the next meeting I attend there will be no comment concerning the bank robbery or the other serious thing; it's the small, in-your-face problems that the communities are more concerned about.

The message I give to officers who work with me is a simple one: Do not walk or drive by a problem that you see on the street. In community policing the public is asked to contribute much in problem-solving and assisting the police. It is important for the public to see the police doing their job. To a small businessman, the most important issue he observes is a disorderly individual in front of his store driving business away. Bill 8, if passed, will provide the police with the proper tool to assist us in solving this problem and provide relief to the frustration levels that both the police and the community are facing in being unable to deal with this problem.

Critics will state that the police will target vulnerable members of society: the poor and the homeless. The Toronto Police Service does not target individuals because of status. We do, however, target disorderly behaviour. In a report on homelessness to the police services board, Police Chief David Boothby stated:

"There is an unfortunate tendency to link any effort to control disorderly conduct with the very different and separate issue of homelessness. By allowing the discussion to be framed in these terms, we invite criticisms that our efforts to control inappropriate behaviours are little more often than harassment on the poor. This is definitely not the case. There is no linkage between the condition of being homeless and unruly or predatory behaviour. In fact, homeless persons are among the most adversely affected by these behaviours. They are victimized more often, and when victimized the consequences can be far more devastating."

I have some facts concerning squeegees that I have prepared. This is in relation to 14 division, which is geographically speaking the second-smallest Toronto police service division. It's bounded by Lake Ontario to the south, Dupont Street to the north, Spadina Avenue to the east and Lansdowne to the west. I did a sampling of persons investigated between May and October 1999, and I determined that there were 331 squeegees operating within that area. Of the 331, 101 of them were female and 230 were male. The males ranged from 16 to 60 years of age. The females ranged from 15 to 41 years of age. Their points of origin are all over Canada, the USA and Europe, with the majority coming from southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces. A random sampling indicated that 38% were on probation for various offences and that 62% had criminal records, the number one crime being drug offences, the second most prevalent crime being assaults and the third being mischief or damage to properties.

There is a link between disorderly conduct, fear, crime and deterioration of the quality of life in the neighbourhoods. The Toronto Police Service strongly supports Bill 8, as it will provide another valuable tool to make Toronto one of the safest cities in North America.

The Chair: We have a minute for each caucus. We'll start off with the government.

Mr Beaubien: Staff Sergeant Kinsman, one of the previous presenters-I think it was the presenter at 3:50, Brian Enns from the Mennonite Central Committee-said that restitution provides conciliation. Do you believe in that?


Mr Kinsman: Yes. There are some interesting things being done in the justice system with restitution.

Mr Beaubien: But do you think that a victim always associates monetary gains or restitution as a way of reconciling? I spent 25 years in the insurance industry, and people told me that when their house was broken into or their personal belongings were taken, it was the personal attack on the persons themselves. There was trauma, there was a stress level. Do we associate monetary compensation with it?

Mr Kinsman: It depends. In most cases, no.

Mr Smitherman: What division are you with, officer?

Mr Kinsman: I was with 14 division up to October.

Mr Smitherman: Currently?

Mr Kinsman: I am currently with 52 division, which is a downtown division.

Mr Smitherman: I live in 51 division. As we speak, drug dealers are lining the streets of my riding-River Street, Dundas Street, Gerrard Street, where I live. Talk to me a little bit about police resource issues, numbers of police on the streets in Toronto compared to five years ago.

Mr Kinsman: I don't have the exact figures but from my understanding-

Mr Smitherman: Fewer or more?

Mr Kinsman: -there are fewer police officers on the streets.

Mr Smitherman: One final question: Tell me a little bit about repeat offenders and problems with respect to addiction. Do the guys on the beat see the same people all the time back on the streets, crackoes, as they are referred to?

Mr Kinsman: Within 14 division we've run a number of drug projects, and this is why I'm a firm believer in solving the little problems to look after the bigger problems. We have run a number of QUEST projects, which is an acronym for quieting the urban environment through strategic targeting, where we go out and directly target the street-level dealers. The four years I was there, we arrested literally hundreds of street-level crack dealers. I have tracked them to look at people we have re-arrested, and the number one fellow we have re-arrested on five of these projects. It's very frustrating.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, sir, for coming today. You were here when Ms Orwin was giving her evidence on behalf of her neighbourhood. I can't and won't refute a single thing that she says as she describes a desperate and, in many respects, disgusting scenario.

Mr Kinsman: As an officer who is involved with community policing, I am the recipient of the phone calls from people like her on a daily basis.

Mr Kormos: My question is this: If the police haven't been able, with the resources that they have now, to curtail the conduct she's talking about-open prostitution, people shooting up-how are police going to be able to identify somebody throwing away a used condom or somebody discarding a needle? If police resources as they are now haven't curtailed what's been going on there-and I agree with her that it's unacceptable in a neighbourhood-how is it that fighting condoms or needles is going to solve it?

Mr Kinsman: Well, 14 division and 51 division are like pages of a book, with 52 division sandwiched in between, very similar problems. I talked about the pyramid of crime. The drug dealer on the street is the number one problem. We can keep on knocking off that drug dealer continuously. Unfortunately, they're much like cockroaches: They multiply very quickly-

Mr Kormos: I don't disagree with that analogy.

Mr Kinsman:-and they're back in before we can change our shift. They just keep on going back. It's very important for the community, mind you, that we keep on attacking the street-level drug dealing. It's important that they see us out there dealing with it. However, is it working? No, it's not working, because it keeps on backfilling.

That's why, when I talk about the pyramid of crime, we've got to deal with the small things and make the whole community safe. The more people we get on the street the safer it will be. We've got to start reclaiming some of our neighbourhoods. By dealing with graffiti, litter, perhaps the squeegee on the corner, perhaps the aggressive panhandler, perhaps the aggressive drunk, it will have the impact we're looking for. We've tried other things; maybe it's time to try this.

The Chair: Thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.


The Chair: Our next presenter is Hamilton Against Poverty, Julie Gordon.

Thanks very much for coming. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation, Julie, and maybe you can introduce who's with you.

Ms Julie Gordon: I'm Julie Gordon and I have with me Herb Joseph and Wendell Fields.

I take offence at this act. I believe it's targeting prostitutes, panhandlers, hitchhikers, anybody out there who might even be having a car wash, the hot dog vendors, the lunch salesmen, trucks, Dickie Dees, gays in public places, anybody who's drunk in a public place. It could affect information picketers who are standing on the road giving out literature, strikers providing information and giving out written or printed material, Jehovah's Witnesses. It could even make it illegal to have a highway opening, such as the one of the Lincoln Alexander Expressway where Mike Harris was making a speech to the people of Hamilton. He was blocking the roadway. Would you make this an illegal act? You have to be careful the way you word these things.

I feel it's very unfair to people that they could be subject to a psychiatric referral as a result of breaking one of these laws. This is way too strict. You're not only taking away somebody's freedom by arresting them, but giving them a psychiatric referral could mean that their freedom is limited for an unlimited period of time.

I have thought out a couple of alternatives to these laws: that you have designated areas for squeegees and all these other people who are affected, like people who are simply selling lunches to workers; that you legalize prostitution; that blue boxes be provided in public places for safe disposal of glass; and that you have improved bus services for those who are in need of transportation.

Mr Wendell Fields: My name is Wendell Fields; I'm a member of Hamilton Against Poverty.

For over a year now the government and monopoly media have been engaged in a well-financed campaign of misinformation and fear-mongering about the youth, the poor and squeegee kids being a safety hazard. Once a climate of fear has been established, it's used to justify putting in tough legislation as the solution to criminalize the poor and the youth.

Why did the government not consider that they were creating a hazard to Ontario society and people when they cut or reduced social programs, when they cut or reduced health care, when they cut or reduced education?

Squeegeeing and panhandling are one result of these measures. It's a problem of society. The "bad behaviour" of panhandlers and squeegee kids is promoted to ensure that the substantive issues are not raised. Why there's a need for squeegeeing or panhandling to make a living for oneself is not addressed, nor is it even a consideration of those who draft this legislation. What the problems facing squeegee kids and panhandlers are is not considered. It doesn't occur to some people to investigate and address this. Why do people beg? Why do people squeegee? Why does Ontario society not take all human beings and their well-being into account? Why is the sole concern of the Ontario government to make monopolies competitive on the global market? Why does this government not recognize that it has a social responsibility to all the members of Ontario society?

This government represents a certain type of society which refuses to recognize that the people of Ontario have the right to a livelihood, the right to a free, quality education, the right to 24-hour recreational centres, the right to their own social consciences. In the 19th century, with the logic of the criminologists and social workers in Canada, it was promoted that aggression appears to be an innate human impulse. Poor families were not guaranteed food, shelter, education or income support, which led to malnutrition and starvation. Under such conditions, the youths were forced to steal food and other household necessities in order to biologically survive and to sustain themselves and their families.

Today, when the government's role is to do everything to ensure corporations' maximum return on their investment dollar in the global market, it is abandoning the Ontario people to destitution by removing funds from health, education and social programs. This is also done in the name of having a strong economy, one in which the provincial debt has increased almost two times, from $39 billion in 1989 to $105 billion. There's your strong economy.

When the youth try to survive by offering a service for a voluntary donation-a tip, if you will-by cleaning car windows, a service once done by gas station attendants, they do so out of necessity because Ontario society is not organized in a manner which guarantees that their needs are met.

What do the youth and poor have? What is the level of education they're receiving? Do they have access to recreational facilities? Do they have food? Do they have shelter? Do they have warm clothing? Does the government, when drafting legislation, take these factors into consideration?


There are very real social, economic and political problems facing Ontario society and this arbitrary legislation to force the youth to toe the line, shut up and accept their lot in life will not solve these problems, and pretending these problems of society don't exist won't wash either.

Unemployment and destitution face youth daily. In an attempt to solve this problem with some squeegeeing, they try to solve a social problem facing them. For this they're held in contempt, criminalized and attacked. The fact of it is that the youth do have the right to think, to organize and to have a livelihood despite the attacks they face from this old society.

Squeegeeing is actually working for some money, trying to survive. For this the youths are criminalized. When conditions exist where their rights as human beings or the collective rights of youths are denied, certain things occur. When their rights for a livelihood, shelter, education and so on are violated, they will aggressively demand and affirm that society has a social duty, a social responsibility to guarantee their needs to live as human beings. They will organize themselves into squeegee squads and work for some money to buy food, and establish their own work rules. There is nothing wrong with the behaviour of the youth. They are simply demanding to live. They are not the troublemakers.

This legislation seeks to create an atmosphere where the youth question nothing, where they don't think for themselves, where they consider themselves criminals and have no bright future. It is the spirit of the youth to have their own conscience, their own thinking, and to be exuberant, rebellious, to have a spirit of resistance and rebelliousness against the status quo. This is a factor, this is a symptom of being youthful, and this cannot be quashed by this legislation.

To hide the fact that this old Ontario society is unable to sort out any problems facing society, there are those who seek to create a diversion. Small businesses face economic difficulty. Big businesses like Eaton's go under and are gobbled up by the competitors. The economy cannot provide for everyone. Only the rich and the debt payments are considered.

An economy which has not and cannot provide and guarantee human rights for the people is not a strong economy. What sort of strong economy creates a destitute people? To divert from this, beggars and squeegee kids are set up as being the problem. They are attacked and scapegoated. Their problem is this old society and its economic system. When the squeegee kids and others in society organize themselves to defend their rights, they're considered a problem, a concern for the rich corporations, banks, a concern of this government.

Cleaning the streets of beggars and squeegee kids and those who fight for their rights does not show the warmth of the Ontario people. Squeegee kids and beggars are marketing for tourists and tourist dollars just what type of great province Ontario actually is. They show to a monied tourist just what kind of strong economy Ontario has. Squeegee kids and beggars show what the natural destination for people is once health, education and social programs are cut, reduced and eliminated. Hiding this won't heal this festering wound of decay.

When legislation is imposed on the youth and the poor without the beggars' and squeegee kids' participation, in the name of "for their own good" or "for the good of society," then such rules will not be respected nor will such rules be defended. The youths' spirit of resistance will be inspired and this is what will get them through the coming desperate straits.

They will take the responsibility to organize themselves in order to fight for a society to recognize and guarantee their needs and rights, and for a society to meet these claims made upon it. These are the real people, these are the real heroes of Ontario and of Canada, these are the people to which a democratic society will listen.

Just on a question of democracy, a fundamental, democratic principle is that 50% plus one of a vote is a majority. There is no political party in power on the basis of near this number of votes. The present Ontario government is in power with less than 25% of the eligible voters' vote. It really doesn't have any legitimate democratic right to govern us.

The Chair: We've got about a minute left in the presentation.

Mr Herbert Joseph: Good afternoon, and thank you. I am Herbert Joseph, an allied independent of Hamilton Against Poverty, an aboriginal activist, and I am now a native social advocate and a victim.

I am a victim in at least two ways: culturally, and I am poor. During the preceding and current provincial mandate, I can see no positive social change on either issue. Poverty is a structural, political problem, because it is through draconian measures such as those currently undertaken by the current provincial government that the poor can only become destitute while the rich become an aloof elite.

Measures such as workfare and non-policy directives on child poverty are waves that attempt to drown us, and proposed policy directives such as the proposed mandatory drug testing and the forced elimination of welfare fraud from the welfare system will not only exacerbate the problem, they will create a new criminal element in our society.

This proposed legislation, Bill 8, will deprive the least worthy of their basic inherent right to shelter, food, housing and all. It is so because the destitute must find some means to survive, and those means include begging in the richest province in Canada. The poor have to be masters of survival, and those other means may also include people like the squeegee kids.

At its basis, it is an entrepreneurial spirit, a method of gaining income by any means, including the constitutional right to economic subsistence, which is also a basic right. Poor people need work no less than the affluent, and when they find work, even at a minimum-wage level, which is too low, they need transportation. If they are on welfare, they cannot afford the luxury of transportation. If they are not on welfare, generally, they must wait three weeks for their first pay. Their solution? They hitchhike.

The Chair: I've gone over about a minute and a half now. I'm going to have to thank you for your presentation. We have another group that wants to present. Thank you for coming here today.

The next group is the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto. They have a video and we're going to start-

Mr Joseph: Why am I being denied? I have a right.

The Chair: Your group already spoke for 12 minutes; that's more than other people. Can we continue? Is there a Community Social Planning Council of Toronto?


The Chair: You've taken more than the other group.

Mr Joseph: Can I have a call of the table?

The Chair: We have the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto. If they're not here, then we'll proceed.

Mr Joseph: I have a constitutional right to speak for myself and my people and the destitute of the province. I believe this is a democracy.

The Chair: Can we have the group for the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto proceed?

Mr Kormos: The man's point is well made, Chair.

The Chair: We're over your presentation. I gave you an extra two minutes. I apologize, but that's the way it is.


The Chair: You know, other groups would like to present here today.

Mr Joseph: Are you denying my constitutional rights as an aboriginal?


The Chair: No, you're not.

Mr Joseph: It's my privilege to speak here.

The Chair: You've had more time than any other group.


The Chair: You've already surrendered two minutes of your time.


The Chair: OK. We're already over. You want two more minutes, I'll give you two more minutes. It'll come out of the other groups' time.

Mr Joseph: I'll attempt to make it as brief as possible.

Under the proposed changes to the Highway Traffic Act on commercial activities on highways, roadside vendors and the art sellers could be prosecuted for indirectly attempting to stop a motor vehicle for the purpose of selling a commodity. I realize that this is intended to curb prostitution, but I question how many of those prostitutes are single mothers or others forced into this trade because social assistance does not provide the basics of life.

Likewise, under the proposed policy directives, people removed permanently from welfare may find it's their only means to an income. How will all this legislation affect natives on and off reserves? Without public transportation on reserves, they must hitchhike. For extra income, we have yard sales. We are a communal society and do ask community members for money etc. What of our constitutional rights?

Whatever happened to just cause, due process of law and other formal and conventional rights of all Canadians? All of these policies tabled are badly flawed. I cannot ask my friend for a cigarette, and if I do without being caught, I cannot walk behind, beside or in front of him or her. At the outset, I said I was a victim. Under this Conservative government, Dudley George was a bullet-riddled victim.

In a similar manner, my friends and family in modern life of all stripes and colours are victims, and although they don't die under gun fire, they die and will continue to die a slow, agonizing death in boxcars. There are pregnant women screaming their agony in silent alleys and government apathy at the legislation that further criminalizes and dehumanizes them for being poor.

We are reduced to begging, and the legislation crushes that. Single mothers who sometimes turn to prostitution to feed their children will become criminals. Welfare recipients are ordered to find work; they create it by squeegeeing, then are outlawed. Also, those who find work are forced to hitchhike to their place of employment and because of this legislation will lose their jobs. We do not need further legislation like this. What we need is political moralism in the structuring of psycho-social policies that will activate the constructs of sociopolitical rights so that democracy is not a shadow box in the halls of the Legislature.

We need to recognize that human rights are not just the right of the elite but of all Canadians. We need the government to recognize there's a need-

The Chair: Sir, how much more? That's two minutes now.

Mr Joseph: -and address it positively. Without that, we will become a ghetto of a new Third World in Canada. We need this legislation redrafted-

The Chair: OK. We'll proceed with the next group.

The next group coming forward is the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto. Will you let the next group proceed, sir. There are people who want to make a presentation here. Thank you. Is the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto here?


Mrs McLeod: On a point of order, Mr Chair: There were number of I think very important points made during the last presentation in referring to increases in homelessness, increases in the province of panhandling as a result of the cutbacks for social assistance. I would very much appreciate knowing either from the parliamentary assistant or from legislative research whether there is research that is available, data that are available that would document the increase in both the homelessness problem and the increase in panhandling in the period of the last five years. I would certainly expect the government would have some data available to this committee to support the need for this legislation.

I would appreciate any material the government has that would reflect on the incidence, the concern they have about a growing incidence, to be tabled with the committee, as well as any information legislative research might be able to obtain from the presenters giving us the same kind of background data for the committee.

Mr Martiniuk: I assume you want material on the incidence. You said "growing incidence"; even if it's under you'd want that too, I assume. Any variance over the last five years of the incidence of homelessness-

Mrs McLeod: Yes, and of panhandling. The bill deals with panhandling and therefore I assume the government has some documented evidence that there is a growing problem with which we should be concerned.

The Chair: With all respect, we have a presenter here. Could we deal with that after we've had the presenters?

Mr Martiniuk: I will attempt to determine if the government, our ministry, has material showing the incidence of homelessness over the last five years. As this bill is not against panhandling, I don't know what the relevance of that would be. It's only aggressive panhandling the bill addresses.

Mrs McLeod: With respect, Mr Chair, and in response to the parliamentary assistant, I have a great deal of respect for the fact that we have another presenter and I'm also aware that as of this point in time I don't believe the committee has been informed of any further presenters that are to be heard after the 5:20 time slot and I would appreciate knowing that.

The Chair: I'd like to proceed with what we have. Can we have the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto? Let's proceed.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Chair, I am a duly-

The Chair: Ma'am, I'm running this committee. I'd like to hear this right now. Let's hear this presenter.


The Chair: Can't we hear the presenters?

Mrs McLeod: I thought I was doing it on a point of order. Mr Kormos has raised it. I'm allowed to raise points of order.

Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Ms McLeod has raised a point. I'm eager to hear her finish it. It's the committee-

The Chair: I don't know what her point of order is. She has made a request for information. What's your point of order?

Mrs McLeod: My point of order, Mr Chair, is that if we're going to be spending time with the committee, I would like to know who the further presenters to the committee are. I would like to know as you press that, the withholding of our points of order and the seeking of information which is relevant to what this committee is dealing with, why you are putting us under this kind of time pressure, because at the present time I see the agenda only extending to 5:40.

The Chair: Can I speak? We have three more presenters and there's someone else who wants to present; The Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice is another group that wants to present.

Mrs McLeod: Are we adding them to the agenda, Mr Chairman?

The Chair: Well, I don't know. The way we're going right here I don't think so because we're not going to get these presenters through.

Can we have another presenter? Do you want to start ,sir?


Mr Peter Clutterbuck: My name is Peter Clutterbuck of the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, an independent social research policy group. We've been an organization for more than 60 years.

I have distributed to you a report we did last year on this issue. It was over a year ago this past week that city council considered the same material you're considering essentially, what to do with the issue of squeegee kids after a very hot summer in 1998. I'm proud to report that they did not take the primarily punitive approach; they actually took the approach of voting a quarter of a million dollars into a diversion program to help community groups reach out to kids on the street to help them discover other choices and get other supports, as opposed to beating them off the street.

We did this report, a survey of 85 young people, last year. We also produced a videotape, which is very important. I think it's important, like the previous presenters, for people who know the experience most directly to actually talk to you. Since a lot of these people who will be on the videotape are not comfortable in this kind of setting, I'd like to show you five minutes of this videotape and then leave it with you perhaps for your further study later, and maybe make some concluding comments after that.

Video presentation.


The Chair: Thank you for your presentation.

Mr Clutterbuck: I did have more, of course. I decided it would be best to show the whole thing. I think it's best that people spoke with their own voices. The real problem is in this videotape, which is about the problems of homelessness and youth: drug problems on the street, lack of educational opportunities, lack of employment. The squeegee issue is a surface issue. I hope the committee will also study this videotape because it goes to the underlying causes around which I think this Legislature has more useful time to spend.

The Chair: Thanks very much for your presentation. I appreciate it.


The Chair: The next group we have is the National Anti-Poverty Organization.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Chair, may I just ask, since it is not quite 5:30-we have 35 minutes left-will we be adding the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice?

The Chair: We've got 30 minutes left and there are two presenters and we've got a vote at 5:50, so we're not going to get these two in.

Mrs McLeod: So you're saying that the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice will not have an opportunity to present today?

The Chair: It appears so. Can we can start with this group here, the National Anti-Poverty Organization? We have Laurie Rector, executive director, and Michael Farrell, assistant director. I want to thank you for coming here. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Ms Laurie Rector: The National Anti-Poverty Organization, or NAPO as we call it, has been around since 1971. We are a non-partisan, non-profit organization set up to represent the interests and the voices of low-income people. We have a board of 22 people across Canada who are all currently living in poverty or have significant life experience with poverty. That puts NAPO in a very unique position to be able to speak directly on behalf of poor people.

We are active in the area of human rights and poverty. Most recently we've made presentations before the Canadian Human Rights Act Review Panel and the United Nations committees on civil and political rights and also on economic, social and cultural rights.

NAPO is also currently challenging two cities' bylaws against panhandling: Winnipeg's and Vancouver's. We're also providing support to a challenge to the city of Ottawa's anti-panhandling bylaw.

It's unusual for us to be here. I don't know that in the history of NAPO we've ever made a presentation to a provincial government committee. The fact that we're here is a testament to how seriously concerned we are about the issue of the proliferation of anti-panhandling legislation.

Most of what I have to say will focus on the anti-panhandling elements-it's hard to speak when I don't have the attention of the committee members. I know it's late in the day but we did put a fair amount of effort into our presentation today.

The Chair: OK. Proceed.

Ms Rector: Thank you. Most of my comments will be about the anti-panhandling elements of Bill 8. I have one comment only on the squeegee element. I'm happy to follow the videotape we just saw. Two things about squeegee kids: One is that we tend to forget that they're children, and how and why it is that we want to make criminals out of children is beyond me. The second part is that I think they're to be applauded for an innovative and creative approach to dealing with their poverty and the lack of real employment options that they have. They've identified a market niche, they've made themselves self-employed and they're finding a way to deal with their poverty. I suspect we would be applauding and congratulating them if they were members of Junior Achievement and wearing little suits and ties and offering to clean our windshields.

Now I'll speak to the anti-panhandling part of this bill. As I mentioned before, NAPO feels very strongly about the proliferation of legislation against panhandlers and beggars and we're certainly very concerned with the introduction of a province-wide bill. We perhaps agree with the drafters of the legislation that the presence of beggars on our streets is not a good thing, but our answer to this concern follows a radically divergent path from that followed in this bill.

Bill 8 is a shameful, albeit carefully worded, piece of legislation. NAPO finds very disheartening the resources and energies that have been dedicated to make poor people into criminals and sweep their poverty out of our collective social gaze. We would hope, rather, to see similar energy and resources put into humane and constructive ways to answer our growing crisis in poverty.

We find it ironic that the bill is called the Safe Streets Act. To date there's no substantive evidence that points to the fact that panhandlers or squeegee people pose a danger to anyone. The real danger is to the individuals and the people who are surviving on the streets. We know the toll it takes on their health, both mental and physical, and we know that ultimately people die from being this poor.

NAPO believes that as carefully worded as this bill is, it is discriminatory and anti-poor in nature, and its intentions are actually quite clear. The definition of "aggressive manner" is written so that it would in effect ban any form of begging province-wide. The definition reads that it would be considered to be aggressive if a reasonable person would likely feel concern for his or her safety or security.

The government of Ontario has worked long and hard to create in the general public an intolerance for and fear of poor people. As a result, many people actually feel quite uncomfortable when they are faced with abject poverty. Many would rather not know that poor people exist. It is a small leap then to anticipate that the presence of a person quietly sitting with their hand or hat outstretched would be considered a threat to someone's security or safety. In fact the existence, if there would be ultimate passage, of this bill would make it even more OK to react this way, to feel hatred for poor people rather than the shame and discomfort that our society has created such depths of poverty.

I'd like to illustrate with a short example of perception, which is where a lot of the work is that we do, and a lot of how we benefit from the voices of the poor people sitting on our board of directors. This is an example that actually comes from my board president. She noted that an element of the anti-panhandling legislation bylaw included is to restrict certain geographic areas like a bank machine or a bus stop or something like that because people are likely to feel more threatened there. She talks about someone coming home from a baseball game and standing at a bus stop holding their baseball bat in hand and they're not perceived as a threat, but somebody who is so poor that they're begging to survive is somehow frightful to us.

We have a short document-I don't know if it's been handed out to you-of three or four pages. I know your timelines are short so we kept our document short. In it we raise four basic concerns with Bill 8. I'll just touch on three of them.

One is that-most speakers this afternoon have spoken to this-the bill itself does nothing to address the real and root causes of poverty. I spoke at the beginning that we would much rather see the resources being put into drafting this type of legislation being put towards real and long-standing solutions to poverty.

The second is that the bill restricts interactions between non-poor and poor people. In fact, it cuts people who are poor out of our collective consciousness. It also takes away the right to give to one person directly, one to another. This is a long-standing right in most religious faiths, and certainly part of our society's background as well, to be able to give charity, one person to another.

The third area of concern is that this bill creates the opening to arrest without a warrant. In this particular bill, poor people are the first target. Our concern is where to from here, in addition to the fact that it's certainly not OK or acceptable to us to see that people would be arrested simply because they're poor. It doesn't take a great leap of logic to know that likely someone who's living on the street isn't going to have sufficient identification.

The fourth suggestion is one about regional or local answers to the issues of panhandling and squeegeeing and how this bill takes away the right of local areas to do that.

I just wanted to say one thing briefly in closing. Sitting where we sat at the back of the room for the afternoon, we were quite heartened to see that most of the people speaking about this bill were speaking against it, and against what it stands for, and that they did so very articulately and very well. I would like to ask this committee to carefully consider that fact-who appeared before you-and to consider that in light of the fact that in our society it's increasingly difficult for the poor to have a voice and for that voice to be listened to with respect. You have before you this afternoon a majority of people speaking on behalf of some of Ontario's poorest citizens. I would really hope that you would think about that long and hard when you're deciding what to do with this piece of legislation.

The Chair: We've got about 30 seconds for each caucus. Would you like to continue to talk on this? You've got suggestions on your paper.

Ms Rector: I'd rather have questions, if there are any.

The Chair: We have 30 seconds. We'll start with the opposition.

Mr Bryant: What, in your view, will happen in the event that this bill is passed? What's going to be the consequence? What's going to happen to the people?

Ms Rector: Poverty isn't going to go away as a result of this bill. In fact, what we're going to do is make criminals of people simply because they're poor. We're going to put them in jail, we're going to create more hardships in the lives of these individuals and we're going to say as a society that's an OK way to be. The next step from a bill like this is somewhere I don't even want to try to imagine today.

Mr Kormos: I think you'll recall the one comment on the videotape by the squeegee kid who said, "I wish politicians could be"-the irony is that the minimum wage here is $78,000 a year. Most of the people on this committee make parliamentary wages in excess of that. Some of the people on this committee have private incomes in addition to those parliamentary salaries. So I'm sitting here with a group of very middle-class people-all of us, myself included, have a minimum wage of $80,000 a year; we're in the top 5% of income-earners-and we're trying to talk about the realities of life for people forced into homelessness and into poverty, whose monthly incomes don't equal what any member of this committee could well spend on a Saturday evening at Bigliardi's or any other steak house in the community.

Mrs Tina R. Molinari (Thornhill): Thank you for your presentation and for taking the time to come out today. Just a point that you mentioned about us forgetting that they are children. Watching the videotape I also noticed a lot of children. In a previous presentation, Staff Sergeant Ken Kinsman gave us some statistics from the division he works in. He said 101 of the 333 squeegees are female and 230 are male. He said that for the females the age ranges from 15 to 41, and for the males it's from 16 to 60 years old. Do you have any comments on that?


Ms Rector: I can't comment statistically on the data that he collected. I understand it was collected only in one part of Toronto, and also NAPO hasn't done extensive research yet into the issue of squeegeeing, so I would stick with-we know that the majority of people who are squeegeeing for an income are children, and to take that into consideration when we're looking at ways to deal with the poverty that they are living in.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I appreciate your presentation.


The Chair: Our next group to present is the Yonge Bloor Bay Association. Margaret Knowles?

Thank you for coming, Margaret. You have 10 minutes.

Ms Margaret Knowles: Thank you for having me.

I think I must be in a minority after hearing that most of the speakers who have spoken ahead of me have spoken against this bill.

You have my brief. I'll speak to the brief and some of the key points.

Our organization, which represents businesses particularly and also has the president of GYRO, which is the Greater Yorkville Residents' Association, on our board, has a lot of things in common with many of the groups that have spoken. The one thing we don't have in common, and I think you have to understand very carefully, is that our businesses and residents, in an area that is particularly hit upon by squeegeers and aggressive panhandlers because it's seen as the tony end of Toronto-our businesses are faced with the highest tax rates in this province and many of our businesses are struggling. They're not great, huge business people who can afford to have customers turned off by what they see going on in the streets. That's number one.

Number two, I respectfully submit to you that, as far as I'm concerned, the organizations and the bureaucracy that support poverty in this province are the people that are calling the homeless and the poor criminals by this legislation. Believe you me, we witness it every day. We have stood on the corner of Yonge and Bloor and watched the panhandling and the squeegee activity there. These are not the homeless and the poor in Toronto-not the true homeless and poor in Toronto. From our point of view, the legislation that is being proposed is simply a first step in what has to be a real initiative by this government and all of you, whatever party you're in, to put aside your party ties and really attack the issue of homelessness and poverty in this province, because it's not going to happen by defeating this piece of legislation.

This legislation has nothing really to do with poverty and homelessness. It's got to do with activity that is threatening and intimidating. If you read the brief, there are a lot of examples in the brief of what goes on on a daily basis in our community. We have shop owners who have to remove human excrement every morning to open up, and sometimes have to have the police come to move bodies out of their doorways. This happens at Avenue Road and Bloor-you know what the rents are, you know what the taxes are-and these businesses employ people. There are women who are working in these businesses who, when they are leaving a night shift, are afraid to leave. They are not afraid of homeless people or poor people; they're afraid of people who threaten and intimidate.

I'm sorry, but I've stood and watched squeegeers at Yonge and Bloor, and who do they pick on? Mainly they pick on women, who never say no because they are intimidated and they give them money.

I have a squeegee guy who lives down the street from me. He is young, but he's not that young. Sure, there are a lot of kids who are doing this activity because it's a neat way to make some pocket change and they're part of a subculture that exists, that's out there, that's all connected with freedom from any of the other ties that the rest of us have, like paying taxes, like paying your dues.

All we're asking for is, give us some relief from this in our business community and for our residents. Many of our residents in Yorkville are seniors. They're people, just like you and I are going to be, who left their homes and who want to be in the downtown core to attend theatre or plays or whatever else. They have every right-they paid their dues, they fought the wars, they paid their taxes and they've contributed to this country.

What I'm stressing is, don't criminalize the homeless and the poor. That's not what this is about. If you guys want to know what's going on, you get out there and you watch it. You operate a business on Bloor Street and see what it's like when tourists tell you they're not coming back to Toronto. This isn't what they thought Toronto was all about. They're not going to shop on Bloor Street any more; they're going to go to Yorkdale or Square One.

There are a lot of businesses on Bloor Street, Holt Renfrew-I happen to manage the Holt Renfrew Centre-which are big contributors to charity; Manulife, all the rest of them that are up there that support this city, that support this province, that contribute to charities, who do lots and lots of really good works, and not once have I heard anybody, either from government or any of these organizations, ever say anything good about what business does in this community, and the residents as well in our area.

I think it's really important to focus on what the real issue is here. The real issue is the ability of people to walk down the street and feel safe, and that just doesn't exist any more in our end of town.

This brief brings examples to you of the kind of thing, as I said before, that goes on on a daily basis. One of the things I didn't mention is that people in our area are assaulted. The police can give you the statistics of the stuff that gets reported, but people are assaulted. Shop owners have been shoved around.

I'm sorry if I'm boring you but I'm just trying to present the facts here.

It's great for social workers and planners, people with the poverty coalitions and organizations, to get up and tell you and show you videos. We could show you a video too. It's not quite as attractive as this video. It may not be quite as manipulative in terms of presenting you with a face to the people who are out there that's wholesome and looks like, gee, if only they got a break they would be able to keep down a job. That's my point. Most of the kids who are out doing the squeegee activity and the young adults who are out there doing this activity and the aggressive panhandling are fully capable of holding down jobs. You've heard that they're smart. That was on the video. You've heard that they're bright and they've got all the answers. If they do, as I said, get rid of your party ties and which party is supporting what and find some real solutions.

Homelessness isn't going to go away. Shelters aren't the answer. You know that. Real homes are the answer. Give some tax incentives to the people in construction and development to build real homes for people. Get rid of this nonsense of shelters, which nobody wants to stay in. I don't think any one of us, if we were in that situation, would want to put ourselves at risk in a shelter. Put some real teeth into it. If you sit back and you're trying to judge this legislation, look at it only as a first step. If it isn't quite the whole plan that you wanted to see, go forward with this at least as a first step.

It's firmly our belief that a lot of the people who are on the street right now who are carrying on the aggressive panhandling-we're saying "aggressive" here, because passive panhandling is not what's at issue. The person who said that this will put an end, as it was in Biblical times, to people being able to give to the poor is not correct. This is targeting people who are threatening and intimidating people, who harass them at bank machines where you are kind of vulnerable at that point in time.

What I'm trying to say to you is that this legislation doesn't provide the solution to the issues of homelessness and poverty. It didn't attempt to provide that. All it is is a first step just to get rid of it, clear the picture, get rid of the people who are out there who don't have to be out there and then start to tackle the real problems that are there. Believe you me, business in our area and residents in our area want to help solve those problems. This isn't a situation where big business is sitting back and sort of saying: "We pay our taxes. We give to the United Way. We don't care." We do care. We have lots and lots of people who show up for lunch and breakfast every day at the Church of the Redeemer. I don't know how many of these organizations are actively involved in Out of the Cold programs, but our association is. So we're not talking off the top of our heads here.

We know what's going on in our area. We support our residents and our businesses and we'd like to see an end to the aggressive panhandling and squeegee activity in our area, because let me tell you something, one thing that our area does depend on, and so does the city and so does the province, is tourist dollars, and the tourists simply aren't going to come. Our area has the Royal Ontario Museum in it. Try walking down there on a summer day. Tourism Ontario could not keep young people, very much like those kids you saw in the video, working in the booths. You know why? Because of the abuse they were taking from the street people.

We have whole camps set up behind the Gardiner Museum. The Gardiner Museum I believe is an Ontario museum and yet all kinds of people camp out there. Any time you walk through that garden there are needles and human waste in the garden, and this is the picture we're presenting to tourists as well as residents in our area.

Our area is critically hit by this problem. We're very concerned. At the same time I'll make it clear again: You're criminalizing the poor and the homeless if you think and you try to portray this legislation as an attack on them. That's not what it's about. If you have any questions, I'd be pleased to answer them.

The Chair: It's unfortunate but we're out of time. Thanks very much. I appreciate that.

We have just one minor item, if I could deal with it. I have a request from the Hamilton Against Poverty presenters for reimbursement for travel. It's $70.50. I put that to the committee.

Mr Smitherman: I so move.

The Chair: It's carried.



Mrs McLeod: I think you indicated that the people who were waiting to present were the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice. I understand they are still here. I would like to move the committee hear them for whatever time we have between now and the time the bells ring for a vote.

The Chair: There is a motion on the floor to hear this presenter.

Mr Martiniuk: I would accept it within the limits of the vote coming up.

Mrs McLeod: I've indicated till the bells begin to ring.

Mr Martiniuk: He can at least start.

Mr Kormos: Till the bells ring.

The Chair: Agreement? Thank you.

Can you just introduce yourself, sir, and the name of your organization?

Mr Douglas Rutherford: My name is Douglas Rutherford and I represent the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, which is a religious organization.

Before I proceed I just want to point out-I believe it was mentioned by the last person-I am actively involved in Out of the Cold and I think it would be a good thing for everybody on this committee to come to visit us. I'll be there tomorrow night, at Bloor Street United Church, right near where that lady is, and I can tell you that the people we serve are the people she's talking about. I must say, I don't like to hear them demonized in that way.

The belief of our religious organization in the individual dignity and worth of every individual has led us to oppose homelessness, poverty and unemployment, all of which characterize street people. Criminalizing their activities will not solve the problem. Sending them to jail or levying fines can only worsen their conditions. We know that jails are breeding places of crime.

Specifically in connection with the bill, I only had a chance to look at this an hour ago, so I'm afraid I'm not as well versed in it as I might be. But looking at section 2-I'm a lawyer and I've spent 20 years working for this government in drafting legislation-I just can't believe it. Section 2 doesn't even mention the street. It talks about, "No person shall solicit in an aggressive manner." In addition to people on the street, are we talking about telephone solicitors, are we talking about door-to-door salesmen? How about street vendors, even those with licences?

My wife was aggressively solicited on the phone on the weekend by the Royal Ontario Museum. Would that make it a criminal offence? She was pretty mad too.


Mr Rutherford: There you are. I just think there doesn't seem to be much sense in this section. It's much too broad and my feeling is that it probably contravenes the Charter of Rights, specifically section 3; freedom of expression is covered in that section. I think certainly the government lawyers ought to have another look at this section.

Section 3 has already been dealt with very well by my friend Alan Borovoy. As Alan said, it deals with what is already adequately covered in the Criminal Code. I'm puzzled as to why that section is in there because there are sections in the Criminal Code dealing with harassment. Alan covered them all and I really don't understand. I don't believe that the government-there's more than meets the eye as to why that was put in.

Section 4: We're dealing with here the disposal of needles and condoms. My feeling is that these are things that you can't deal with on a criminalization basis. We must deal with the social conditions that cause these things. I don't understand how it could even be enforceable. Just think about it for a minute. When are these things disposed of? In the middle of the night when nobody's around. How can any policeman ever get evidence to prosecute this? This doesn't seem to be-again, I worry about the motive behind putting this in, because it certainly isn't going to reduce this problem. I sympathize with the woman who spoke, but I don't think sending the drug dealers and all these people to jail-because we know they learn how to be even better drug dealers when they go to jail.

Our Mennonite friends here mentioned transformative justice. I'm not going to go into that but it's something I think the committee ought to look at some time. The Quakers are very much involved. There's an international conference being organized in the spring in Toronto on this matter and I think you should look into this matter because it has some important things to say about how to deal with this kind of behaviour, apart from building more jails and sending people to them.

Another thing that really concerns me is the question of arresting without a warrant. Normally this is a matter that is only dealt with in serious criminal offences. I think it's shocking that there is something in this legislation that would allow a policeman to go out on the street and arrest a beggar without a warrant simply to get identification. That's what I think the bill talks about. Again I think this is an area where section 8 of the charter, which deals with unreasonable search and seizure, could well be invoked to strike down this section.

Finally, I think the government is using this bill to duck its responsibility to deal with the underlying social conditions that create street people. The current reduction in social services of this government is worsening the situation as well. Many thanks.

The Chair: I want to thank you, sir.

We're going to have to adjourn now until 3:30 tomorrow.

The committee adjourned at 1757.