Activists raise concerns for homeless; Urge Finley to ensure funding promise is kept
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Activists raise concerns for homeless; Urge Finley to ensure funding promise
The Toronto Star , Oct. 31, 2008
Activists concerned that poverty and housing issues will be pushed to the
back burner during the economic downturn found little solace in Diane
Finley’s return as the federal minister responsible for the portfolio.
“I’m not expecting the current government in the current economic situation
– with the sort of signals they’ve been sending – to come out with any
particularly bold or innovative ideas and certainly none that would be
attached to any significant amount of funding to address the issues that
we’re concerned with,” said Rob Rainer, executive director of the National
Finley was appointed minister of human resources and skills development
yesterday, a role she held in 2006 before her appointment as immigration
Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe said the challenges facing the poor will
become more acute as the economy worsens, and predicted Finley will have her
work cut out for her.
“I think she’s going to be in a lot of trouble … those of us working in
the field are predicting a massive influx of homeless people in all the
major cities and rural areas given the recession and the plant closures, and
what’s going on with the economy,” Crowe said.
Michael Shapcott, a senior fellow at the Toronto-based Wellesley Institute,
recalled poverty and housing activists having a hard time with Finley the
last time around.
“In the two years since the minister was in this portfolio, we know that
housing insecurity has grown worse, homelessness has gotten worse in most
major centres,” he said. “We’re very concerned that the minister needs to
take a much more aggressive role in terms of making sure that the
investments that are needed are in place.”
Rainer noted three federal programs dealing with affordable housing and
homelessness worth $1.9 billion over five years were renewed a few days
before the election was called and announced on the campaign trail – but
worries the government could use the economy as an excuse to back away from
“One hope would be that they would honour that commitment but it seems the
government could easily send out the signal that due to the economic
downturn and shrinking government revenues they’re going to have to restrain
certain spending areas or even spending promises,” Rainer said.
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