Advocates Want Ontario Law Banning Panhandling Repealed
More than ever before, Toronto’s homeless people are being ticketed for panhandling under Ontario’s Safe Streets Act.
Advocates say it’s time to repeal the law altogether.
York University professor Stephen Gaetz says Toronto Police issued 15,000 tickets under the act in 2010 – an increase of about 1900% more than in 2000 and 67,000 tickets total since then.
Gaetz, along with former Attorney General Michael Bryant and Mary Birdsell of Justice for Children and Youth, called on the Ontario government to repeal Ontario’s Safe Streets act during a press conference at Queen’s Park on Monday morning.
Gaetz estimates the value of tickets given to homeless people amounts to approximately $4 million in debt and another $1 million in the amount of time police spend writing the tickets.
Although most tickets don’t get paid, they do serve as a barrier to escaping poverty Gaetz believes.
Should we abolish Ontario’s Safe Streets Act? Should we shame and fine panhandlers? Does this approach create a barrier to escaping poverty?