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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homelessness A National Disgrace

Guest Columns: Homelessness A National Disgrace

By Wayne Clark. The human chaos that we see, read, and anguish about every day – the homelessness crisis that plagues our streets. One week its about closing washrooms to the homeless and the next it’s outrage about homeless people peeing or defecating in the street or performing other such functions that would normally be done in a bathroom in public. Under the present circumstances there is no happy ending for any of us because homeless or not people require certain facilities to satisfy basic body functions, to keep clean, to be out of the elements, to have food in our stomachs, the basics of life at the very least.
The people of BC and maybe Canada have to decide whether the status quo is acceptable or not acceptable for Canadians to be living in the street for whatever reason, sure there probably are some of the homeless who would be there no matter what and there are undoubtedly some who should be in jail but they are a small minority, no one should be living in the wet freezing cold because they were born with a physical or mental handicap, no Canadian should be forced to survive the elements because they are unemployed or even underemployed, no woman or juvenile should be forced to live without shelter because she will be abused at home.
Canadians should feel shame and feel uncomfortable to see how the homeless live amongst us, I would bet if you saw the same thing in another country you would be disgusted and feel empathy for the poor and destitute of another country.
BC started on this slippery slope to rampant homelessness in 1983 in what a rabid Conservative would call the “Golden Era” under the rabid anti-socialist Bill Bennett otherwise known as Mini-Wac, in 1983 under the banner RESTRAINT, Bennett slashed social services and closed down most of the facilities that took care of the mentally and physically handicapped while simultaneously holding a party for the world, EXPO 86.
His Golden Era excesses finally generated a general strike in BC.
The stage was set and we see the result of his anti-people polices every time we leave our homes and see the lost souls living amongst us, and yes it is disturbing, but the trick is to blame the right people not blame the victims.
The solution to this major social problem is certainly not to ship the homeless back to Vancouver which was a bad policy decision made in an attempt to hide previous bad policy decisions, or just moving them to someone else’s back yard is certainly not the answer to anyone’s problem, and certainly inciting hatred against an identifiable group is most certainly not legal nor the answer, like it or not this is BC’s and even Canada’s problem not Vancouver’s problem, it has to be seriously dealt with by every level of government and not just swept under the rug or glossed over for some undeserved cynical political photo op.
These people are after all Canadians and deserve at least a basic part of the Canadian dream, is a roof over your head out of the cold, rain, wind and food in your stomach to much to ask and how about some caring supervision, access to medical treatment and counselling is that to much to ask for, or expect in Canada one of the richest countries in the world, I don’t think so?

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