Many people seeking legal help at a Toronto community clinic are homeless.

Many people seeking legal help at a Toronto community clinic are homeless.
Photo Credit: CBC/file photo

Legal clinic challenges panhandling law

Share

A community legal clinic in Toronto is going to court to challenge a law against panhandling in the province of Ontario.

Clinic finds law violates rights

The Fair Change clinic says the law violates several constitutional rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Among them are the freedom of expression, the right to life, liberty and security of the person, and the right to be free from discrimination.

Ontario’s Safe Streets Act prohibits people from asking for money in ways that are deemed to be “aggressive: and from those who are deemed to be members of “captive” audiences. The province of British Columbia has a very similar law.

Spike panhandled for years in the western city of Saskatoon where a current bylaw prohibits panhandling in a ‘coercive manner’ or by anyone under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Spike panhandled for years in the western city of Saskatoon where a current bylaw prohibits panhandling in a ‘coercive manner’ or by anyone under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. © Eric Anderson/CBC/file photo

Many seek alms in ‘very acceptable’ ways

Fair Charge lawyer Peter Rosenthal argues that makes it illegal for individuals to ask for help in places where they are most likely to get it. He adds that thousands of panhandlers have been convicted for “simply seeking alms in ways that have traditionally been regarded as very acceptable.”

Offences under the law are punishable by fines and imprisonment. The clinic finds that in virtually all cases, people who seek alms cannot pay the fines. Debt sometimes accumulates to tens of thousands of dollars. That makes it difficult for panhandlers to get a driver’s license, housing, employment or a good credit rating.

It also points out that after prison terms of longer than 30 days, any government payment of social assistance is cut off thus making people even more destitute than they were before.

Law called ‘discriminatory, cruel, repressive’

The director of the clinic, Daniel Ciarabellini notes that almost all of its clients have experienced homelessness. Most have mental disabilities and a large majority suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.

He says the law is “discriminatory, cruel, repressive, and violates many of our society’s most fundamental norms regarding justice, fairness, compassion, and decency.”

Share
Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*