Wednesday, September 28
The federal Conservative government’s new crime bill will result in a dramatic increase in the number of homeless people in Canada, according to Megaphone Magazine, a Vancouver-based organization that works to empower homeless and vulnerably housed people.
“The so-called ‘Safe Streets and Communities Act’ is harmful and counter-productive,” says Megaphone Executive Director Sean Condon. “Along with costing taxpayers billions of dollars and being incredibly inefficient, the bill will create thousands of new homeless people across Canada. It should be abolished.”
Recently tabled in the House of Commons, Bill C-10, the “Safe Streets and Communities Act”, is a collection of nine crime bills aimed at rewriting the laws on young offenders, parole, pardons, drug offenders and more.
In an editorial published in the most recent issue of Megaphone Magazine, Condon took the federal Conservatives to task for the proposed legislation, pointing out the costs not just in terms of dollars, but its impact on marginalized people.
“Looking to the U.S. (which Harper seems hell bent on emulating regardless of the evidence) we can see that having a criminal record greatly increases one’s chances of being homeless,” Condon writes in his editorial. “Instead of curbing the national crime rate, which is already at its lowest rate since 1973, the crime bill will cause our prison population to explode—thus trapping thousands of Canadians into the cycle of criminalization and poverty.”
Condon called for a more constructive approach, rather than the proposed one that will result in higher recidivism rates. He referred to several studies that show how imprisonment increases homelessness and crime rates.
“Harper’s crime bill ignores the root problems surrounding crime,” says Condon. “What we need are programs that keep people out of prisons and get them into housing—Canada is still the only G8 country without a national housing plan.”
Megaphone Magazine is a publication sold on the streets of Vancouver by homeless and low-income people, providing employment opportunities for marginalized people.
“Some of our own vendors have criminal backgrounds, but have managed to use the magazine, coupled with their own fortitude, as a way to get their lives back on track,” says Condon.