The Safe Streets Act (SSA) 1999 is a law in the province of Ontario, Canada. The SSA prohibits aggressive solicitation of persons in certain public places and the disposal of dangerous things in certain public places. The act was created in response to what was seen as the growing problem of squeegee ids on the streets. According to Micheal Vonn, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association policy director, “The real aim of the legislation is to sweet the streets of people who produce feelings of discomfort in seeing or meeting in public places. The mere threat of invoking the Safe Streets Act against an individual will presumably “move them along” to the extent that is could effectively create ‘no-go’ zones in certain parts of the city. It is well to remember that this legislation’s prime proponent is the business lobby.”
– British Columbia Civil Liberties Association as appeared in the Vancouver Sun, October 20 2004
New Catholic Times Mar 11, 2001
“The federal government, they’re in charge of the criminal law, and the provincial governments gets to be in charge of the other stuff: property and civil rights. Our argument is you’re using the powers of the province to monitor the behaviour of a particular group of people, and that’s criminal law.
The way I see it,” says his companion, “the law contradicts itself all the time. What we’re saying about this law is that it totally targets a group of people who are already having a rough time to begin with.” – Canadian Press Aug 23, 2007
It is blatantly clear that this law serves to promote the well being of those ‘in charge,’ while discriminating against certain types of people, in this case, those living in poverty. The main problem with the act is that it is very subjective; it leaves it up to the police to decide whether to charge or not and thus it becomes completely arbitrary and can be unjust at times. Many homeless people have fallen victim to this form of police cruelty.
Liberals Continue Harris’ Attack on the Poor (February 26, 2006)
According to the Ontario Coalition against Poverty, “The liberals defend indefensible and ‘offensive’ Safe Streets Act, which is a social cleansing bill passed by Harris’ Tories, which attacks poor people. It gives the police another tool to harass and arrest homeless people, panhandlers and squeegee workers. Poverty is not a crime and the poor should not be criminalized”
-OCAP Press Advisory
From the Street into Homes
The Council of the City of Toronto passed plan to deal with the city’s homelessness problem calling it From the Street into Homes. The plan was excellent in its understanding of reducing homelessness in Toronto, however, contained troubling provisions which threatened the ability of the homeless in Toronto to use the city’s public spaces. It determined that the root causes of homelessness in Toronto was a result of the governments stringent economic policies; these policies, designs and exclusionary social attitudes are making public unfriendly to the homeless population.