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Ottawa's Homeless Fight Back

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Section: Ottawa Geography: Ontario ottawa Topics: poverty

April 7, 2004

Ottawa's Homeless Fight Back

The number of homeless in Ontario is on the rise. So is the enforcement of the Safe Streets Act, which bans panhandling, and various other legislation designed to keep people off the streets. While homeless people are traditionally among society's least politically influential citizens, many homeless people in Ottawa are working to change that.

Working with antipoverty activists and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), homeless people have initiated a panhandlers' union in Ottawa. The union will act as a means of support for individual members who are targeted by police or have difficulties with the government. The union will also provide the possibility of a livelihood by supplying newspapers for panhandlers to sell.

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Jane Scharf and Richard Beltmore on Daly Street. The new panhandlers' union will assist homeless people with legal aid and lobby for changes to anti-panhandling legislation. photo: Jeff Clark

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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