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About Down But Not Out, its beginnings, why it came to be and where it is heading

addiction is rampant in Canada. The primary contributing factor is disaffection with  a social system that has placed the accumulation of wealth ahead of any moral integrity.

best is a random selection of my best photography & art that can be viewed as a slide show

contact Ronzig by email or visit Ronzig's other web pages or explore related websites.

contribute Do you have a story about poverty, homelessness or addiction that you would like to share? This is the place to get it off your chest.

economics The financial cost of ignoring moral integrity is reflected in the precarious state of the world economic system.

environment Global environmental issues, Climate Disruption, Right to Water, extraction methods used by the Mining and Oil  Industries.

events Rallies, protests, symposiums public forums and training sessions that you may wish to attend.

health  homelessness is synonymous with disease and premature death. Denial of the right to housing is a death sentence.

homelessness a view from our perspective

internet   The internet is our best hope to take back control from the power brokers.

media coverage by mainstream and independent media sources of current events & issues that are of concern as we enter the 2nd decade of the new millennium.

new content recently added to this site.

news Ronzig in the news

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politics How the government is addressing the issues we must deal with to move towards a more just and sustainable society.

portfolio Ronzig's portfolio site where you will find a large selection of photography and art created by Ronzig.

poverty is the main cause of most of the problems that our society struggles with, including homelessness.

society   how we think, feel & act as a society will determine how history judges us.

speaking Ronzig will speak to your group about social issues, art or photography

videos by Ronzig about homelessness & other important issues that are contributing to the malaise we live with every day.

war  Canada's role in promoting Imperialism

home back to home page.

The most promising thing I've seen recently is the fact that mainstream media has finally been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the fray. In papers where the cry has been, "Let them all die on the streets," there are now voices calling out for a change in attitude. With the major media now voicing its objection to this outrageous situation, public opinion is sure to follow and politicians, those followers who were elected to lead will be forced to act. Articles about the social issues discussed in this site, plus Digital photoArt by Ronzig.
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City TV does an interview on the street

added Feb 16

48 hours to save Canadian journalism

In 48 hours, public protections against false news coverage could be destroyed. The CRTC may pass a huge loophole to the “fair and balanced” rule that currently prevents media from outright lying to the public.

Canada's broadcast journalism standards are an impediment to the new "Fox News North" (Sun TV) network being set up by Prime Minister Harper's cronies, which promises to mimic Fox News -- the poisonous US propaganda network. The CRTC rule change, which allows false news to be blasted across Canadian airwaves, comes just as SunTV is about to launch. We can stop this -- last year, we prevented Harper cronies from pressing the CRTC to fund "Fox News North" with public money. Now, we have just two days to raise another national outcry to save the standards of Canadian journalism, and our democracy. Sign the petition, and then tell everyone about this campaign:

Sign the petition at...

http://www.avaaz.org/en/canada_fair_and_balanced/97.php?cl_tta_sign=b6ef1fc556310f5158365c28ff7615b8

or at

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/182/866/368/?z00m=19941454

More MRI cash helping rich more than poor, study finds

SHERYL UBELACKER

The Canadian Press

March 3, 2009 at 3:52 AM EST

TORONTO — An infusion of cash to cut long MRI waiting times has doubled the number of the annual diagnostic scans performed in Ontario since 2004, but the increase seems to be benefiting wealthy patients far more than their poorer counterparts, a study has found.

When the study started in April of 2002, patients living in the richest one-fifth of the province's neighborhoods were 25-per-cent more likely to receive magnetic resonance imaging than those living in the poorest one-fifth of neighbourhoods.

Yet, even after Ontario invested $118-million in 2004 to shorten waiting times, it did little to narrow the gap between rich and poor. In fact, access disparity actually widened over five years, with the wealthiest patients being 38-per-cent more likely to get an MRI than the poorest.

"One would hope that if you're investing that significantly that you can double a capacity to do MRI scans, that you would narrow that gap and make some impact on it," said Dr. John You, principal investigator of the 2002-2007 study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

"But, in fact, it's the opposite that's happened. And to me, that's the most concerning part of what we've found."

Dr. You said people with lower incomes tend to have more health problems, on average, than those with higher incomes and often of a more serious nature. Yet many studies have shown that those with fewer financial assets also have difficulty accessing all kinds of health-care services compared with the better-off.

"The staggering thing is that this is not like it's in the United States where there are big issues around the uninsured," Dr. You said. "This is in a country, or a province, with universal health insurance. So why should there be a gap in access when everyone has the same kind of insurance coverage?"

The study's authors speculate on a number of potential reasons for the rich-poor gap.

"It may be that wealthier individuals are more adept at navigating the health-care system," Dr. You said. "They're perhaps a little bit more insistent with their care providers that they get the test they think they need. And there's very little incentive for the physician to say no because they're not paying for it and the patient's not paying for it."

Those in lower income brackets may not be quite as aware of how to finesse the system and get what they want or they may not be as educated about MRI scans and their uses, he said.

The study authors say more research is needed to determine why income seems to make a difference in getting an MRI before attempts can be made to close the access gap.

Dr. You said doctors may be ordering more MRIs that are medically unnecessary or inappropriate and strategies are needed to reduce this overuse.

He suggested that lengthy guidelines for appropriate MRI use, put out by the Canadian Association of Radiologists, be made easier to use for busy physicians, perhaps by making them Web-based.

But Dr. You said the biggest challenge may be changing how the public and doctors view high-tech imaging.

"I think our tendency, myself included, is to get mesmerized by the beautiful pictures that the machines make and the amount of detail you can get from them. And you kind of forget to look at it in an objective way, to see if the test is actually useful for your patient."

"There is a tendency for many of us to equate really fancy tests or expensive tests with better care. And I just don't think that's always true."

CBC News Jan 27, 2009

Desperation as Capitalist System teeters on the brink.

View a video from CBC News that questions whether big spending will work.

http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/8752/news/features/macdonald-stimulus090126.wmv

 Homeless numbers on verge of exploding, conference told

Front-line workers at a national conference in Calgary are predicting they will be trying to help increasing numbers of homeless people as the economy continues to sink.

"This is a stage of incredible crisis," said Beric German, a worker with Toronto's Street Health and a speaker at the housing and homelessness conference on Wednesday at the University of Calgary.

"The recession is going to change all of our lives in some fashion, and for people on lower income or become unemployed, this can mean homelessness."

'Now we're having homelessness … expanding exponentially. It could double. It could triple.'— Beric German, front-line worker

German said looming job losses in a country without adequate employment insurance, welfare, or a national housing strategy is potentially dangerous.

"We want to say while we are talking here in Calgary about a conference again about homelessness that now we're having homelessness … expanding exponentially. It could double. It could triple and this is a time for us to act."

German's prediction is echoed by those who live on Calgary's streets.

A man who identified himself only as Todd said he returns bottles to get by while bouncing between shelters and the streets. He said he believes the city and social agencies are in store for bigger workloads.

"The problem's getting bigger, and I think it's going to get bigger yet — the lack of employment," he told CBC News.

Feds asks provinces to match $2B investment

The three-day conference is bringing together more than 600 front-line workers, academics and policy-makers.

Diane Finley, the federal minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, reaffirmed the federal government's commitment of roughly $2 billion — already announced during the spring budget — as vital in renovating and building affordable housing.

"It will also create jobs, and we know that not only the direct jobs, but up to 80 per cent of the materials used will be Canadian-made and so that creates a lot of spin-off jobs as well," she said at the conference.

However, Finley asked the provinces to match the $2-billion investment in affordable housing.

Yvonne Fritz, Alberta's minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, said she won't know exactly how much the province will be able to match until the budget is released later this year.

The first national housing and homelessness conference was held in Toronto in 2005.

Few surprises as government turns on the spending taps

My comments will be in lime color

Many of the measures in Tuesday's budget came as no surprise — they had been laid out in a series of government announcements in preceding days. But a few provisions may raise eyebrows.

For instance, if the budget passes in the House of Commons, first-time homebuyers would be allowed to withdraw up to $25,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plans to put towards a down payment. That's up from $20,000. The withdrawal would be tax free if repaid within 15 years.

Another surprise: a search of the 360-page budget document does not turn up a single mention of the word "military." But it is full of "action." That word turns up 300 times. "Tax" (1,031 times) is another popular word, as is "spending" (133 times). The combination of "tax," and "relief" or "reduction" comes up a total of 184 times.

Among the budget's key provisions are:

The return of the deficit: As expected, the federal government anticipates it would run a deficit of $33.7 billion in the fiscal year beginning April 1. The government also acknowledges that for the current fiscal year, the books would be in the red to the tune of $1.1 billion. Deficits are expected to total $84.9 billion through 2012-13. A surplus of $700 million is expected the following year.

Personal tax reductions: $20 billion in personal income tax reductions, including an increase in the basic personal exemption to $10,320 from $9,600. As well, you would stay in the lowest tax bracket (15 per cent) if you made $40,726 this year. It used to take $37,885 to trigger a jump into the next (22 per cent) tax bracket. The upper limit of that bracket would be increased by 7.5 per cent to $81,452. A single person earning $40,000 would save $115 from measures announced in this budget. A one-income family with two children earning $40,000 would save $148.

The basic personal exemption should match the current poverty level. No-one living in poverty should be required to pay income tax. If our system can not allow a living income it is unfair and immoral to further exacerbate the situation by taxing people already living in poverty.

Business tax changes: There would be a 100 per cent capital cost allowance (CCA) rate for computers bought for your business between Jan. 27, 2009, and Feb. 1, 2011. Tariffs on a range of machinery and equipment would be eliminated, saving an estimated $440 million over five years, and the temporary 50 per cent straight-line accelerated CCA rate would be extended to investment in manufacturing or processing machinery and equipment over the next two years. As of Jan. 1, the first $500,000 of small business income will be eligible for the reduced federal tax rate of 11 per cent. That's up from $400,000.

How is eliminating tariffs on machinery going to help the average Canadian? The resultant new machinery will replace jobs that are currently being done by us and we won’t even receive the benefit of building these machines. This is just another example of politicians exporting Canadian jobs to make big business more profitable. It is apparent that nothing has changed. Fat cats reap benefits at the expense of the working man.

Seniors: The Age Credit amount would increase by $1,000, resulting in tax savings of $150 a year for eligible low- and middle-income seniors. If the value of your RRSP or RRIF declines after you die but before your estate is distributed to your beneficiaries, the amount of post-death decreases in value of the RRSP or RRIF would be carried back and deducted against the year-of-death RRSP/RRIF income inclusion. The government previously only looked at whether your RRSP or RRIF increased in value. There were no provisions to deal with a decrease in value, which would lead to less tax payable.

Employment insurance: EI premiums would be frozen for two years. For the next two years, EI benefits would be allowed five more weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks. However, there would be no changes to rules governing who is eligible for benefits. Those rules vary across the country. There would be a $1-billion fund for training programs administered through EI. You wouldn't necessarily have to be on EI to qualify.

Adding 5 weeks of EI coverage will do nothing to provide any lasting help to the thousands of Canadians who are becoming permanently unemployed as a result greed driven Capitalist exploitation. More than half of the jobs that are being lost during this economic meltdown will never return and this budget does nothing to address the inadequacies in the social assistance plans of this country. Once a person’s EI runs out, he drops off the economic scale into abject poverty, where even a room in a slum rooming house is unaffordable. As a result, homelessness is certainly about to increase exponentially.

More training: The budget would provide $500 million over two years for a Strategic Training and Transition Fund for people who do not qualify for EI training, including the self-employed. There would be $60 million to retrain older workers, $100 million over three years for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership, and $75 million for a two-year Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund.

It will be interesting to see what types of skills this funding will produce. I suspect we will see a whole new crop of hairdressers and burger flippers created out of the thousands of employees in the industrial sector that will be displaced as the corporations continue to export their jobs. Even after retraining, will these people be able to find work at an income level that will support their families?

Housing: The budget includes $7.8 billion for housing construction and renovation. First-time buyers would be eligible for $750 in tax relief after closing a deal. If you already own a house, you could qualify for a tax credit of up to $1,350 for eligible home renovations and alterations.

This step is fine for the lucky ones that have a job with an income that enables ownership of a private residence, but does nothing to aid those who truly need the help who are either jobless or working at subsistence level incomes that are inadequate to cover rental costs let alone ownership.

Previously announced measures include $1 billion for renovations and energy retrofits for social housing, $400 million to build housing for low-income seniors, $75 million to build social housing for persons with disabilities, $200 million to support social housing in the North and $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities to improve housing-related infrastructure, such as sewers, water lines and neighbourhood regeneration projects.

The result of this measure will be a reduction in the 10 year wait for assisted housing of less than one month. When will our government recognize that assisted housing can never and will never solve the problem of unaffordable housing. The only viable solution is an assured income level for all Canadians that will allow them to pay market rent for their homes. This means an increase in the minimum wage to a level that will allow a worker to pay rent and support his family and an increase in social assistance incomes to a degree that recipients will no longer live below the poverty line.

Infrastructure: Much of the spending in infrastructure has already been announced. The government says it would provide $12 billion in infrastructure funding over the next two years, including:

$4 billion for an Infrastructure Stimulus Fund that would help provinces, territories and municipalities in their infrastructure projects. The federal government would pay half the cost of a project if construction begins this year or next.

$515 million over two years for "ready to go" First Nations projects in three priority areas: schools, water and critical community services.

$1 billion over five years for a Green Infrastructure Fund to support projects such as sustainable energy.

$407 million for Via Rail Canada to improve services, especially in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor.

Across Canada our infrastructure is ageing and deteriorating and becoming overtaxed by an ever increasing population. It’s about time we did something about it before we experience major disintegration of the basic structure necessary to maintain our lifestyle. The major concern is can and will the provinces take part to the fullest when funding is dependent on 50% participation by them?

Science and technology: The Canada Space Agency would get $110 million over three years to support the development of advanced robotics and other space technologies. The budget calls for $87 million to maintain or upgrade key Arctic research facilities. There would also be $225 million over three years to develop and implement a strategy on extending broadband coverage to underserved communities. Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing would receive $50 million to build a new research facility.

I am happy to see the government encouraging science and technology and in particular I applaud the move to increase broadband coverage as the internet continues to open opportunities and level the playing field of information distribution.

The environment: While details are scarce, the government says it would set up a new Clean Energy Fund to support clean energy research development and demonstration projects, including carbon capture and storage. It doesn't say how much money would be in the fund. It would also set aside $10 million to improve the way it reports on key environmental indicators such as clean air, clean water and greenhouse gas emissions.

An investment in clean energy is laudable, but when compared to the investment this budget projects for nuclear energy, it is a drop in the bucket and does not give much encouragement to the sector. It is shameful that there are no major initiatives being announced for improving the environment, but Mr. Harper has made it quite clear on many occasions that he has no objection to a status quo of continued poisoning of the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Nuclear energy: The budget would give $351 million to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to "maintain safe and reliable operations" at its Chalk River, Ont., facility and help in the development of the Advanced Candu Reactor.

It is better to be in the dark than glow in the dark.

Arts, culture and sport: The budget would set aside $60 million to support infrastructure-related costs for local and community cultural and heritage institutions such as local theatres, small museums and libraries. There would also be $30 million for Canadian magazines and community newspapers. The Canadian Television Fund would receive $200 million over the next two years to develop Canadian programming. The budget increases funding for Special Olympics Canada to $1.5 million.

I imagine that these measures will purchase a little support for the government from those who will benefit and I have no strong objections.

Total stimulus: The government would provide a total of just under $40 billion in economic stimulus over the next two years — or 1.5 per cent of GDP in 2009/10 and 1.1 per cent in 2010/11. It is relying on the economy to begin improving by 2010, so its revenues increase and deficits decrease.

Links to budget related sites of interest.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan

Budget 2009 overview

Where’s the money coming from?

Where the money’s going


Here are 2 important articles published in the National Post Oct 18. The first is a message of hope that things may get better and the second is about another insane murder of a homeless man.

Down and out of the rain

A judge's ruling that the homeless have the right to camp in city parks has Victoria reeling

Brian Hutchinson, National Post  Published: Saturday, October 18, 2008

Related Topics

Nine dwellings sprang up in a Victoria park after a judge ruled the homeless have the right to camp in a public space. The camp was dismantled Friday.

Debra Brash/Canwest News Service Nine dwellings sprang up in a Victoria park after a judge ruled the homeless have the right to camp in a public space. The camp was dismantled Friday.

VANCOUVER -Perhaps it was no coincidence that a Supreme Court of British Columbia justice waited until Tuesday before deciding homeless people in Victoria have the right to erect tents, tarps and other forms of temporary shelter in public spaces. It is Homelessness Action Week.

Madame Justice Carol Ross acted. Bylaws that for years prohibited people from camping in city parks, she wrote, are "arbitrary and overbroad and hence not consistent with the principles of fundamental justice."

Into action sprang the homeless. Up went their tents and cardboard shelters. Beacon Hill Park, the city's downtown jewel, played host to a small village of nine temporary dwellings, next to a children's play area.

In response, the city scrambled. A new bylaw enforcement policy was written and put into effect. It limits the hours that people may put up their shelters: nine o'clock in the evening to seven o'clock in the morning. Permanent camps are not permitted.

Police acted on the bylaw yesterday and dismantled the camp, arresting five people in the process. The new policy is just a stop-gap measure, not a fix, says Dean Fortin, Victoria's acting mayor. "Since we can't prohibit camping, we've got to try and regulate it. But I'm afraid that the homeless situation here is going to get worse before it gets any better."

The city is appealing the ruling. Other Canadian cities with similar parks bylaws are watching, nervously.

Victoria police are furious. They recall the 20-tent squat that appeared in a much smaller downtown park three years ago: Its appearance opened a legal dispute between the city and nine occupants, which led, circuitously, to the stunning judgment this week.

One senior police officer says the scene three years ago at Cridge Park was filthy, degrading and dangerous.

Approximately 70 people had crammed into that squat, which stayed up 10 days before the city obtained a court injunction to dismantle it.

Girls as young as 12 were found mingling with the Cridge Park crowd. A 14-year-old girl was discovered having sex with 40-year-old "street men," says Victoria police Inspector Jamie Pearce. A deranged individual attacked a man with an axe.

The city spent $120,000 to clean up the park once the campers had left. Seven trucks were required to remove their trash.

Justice Ross had this information, says Insp. Pearce, yet her decision this week makes no mention of it. On the other hand, her judgment includes excerpts from depositions painting a much more positive picture of homeless outdoor living.

"I still miss Tent City and consider it the only true home I ever had," reads part of a deposition from a woman named Faith.

"I won't go back to [one of the city's shelters]," deposed a man named Sebastien Matte, "even at the cost of sleeping outside and alone, and of breaking the law. The place has nothing for me that my tent and friends cannot provide. Except a shower."

Insp. Pearce also alleges that one of the nine individuals named in the 2005 Cridge Park injunction, and who is now camping in Beacon Hill Park, is not even a homeless person. "I see him walking around in the morning with a cup of Starbucks coffee in his hand. I believe that he is housed, and that this is just a cause of his," says Insp. Pearce. But Catherine Boies Parker, a lawyer who acted for the nine homeless people in their countersuit, says that the individual, a baker named David Johnston, is, in fact, homeless.

She says that the ruling is not likely to be exploited as widely as police or its other critics fear.

"It's unlikely that people will flock to our parks once they realize they can have a tent," says Ms. Boies Parker. "This is nothing the city can't live with."

Victoria officials are not so sure. "What is to prevent a family camping trip stopping at a park near you?" they asked, in their submission to Justice Ross.

"What is to stop the overnight grad party or the prostitute's tent? Are all of our beaches to be open to addicts who may pass out in the sand where their syringes will fall ... What will the city need to spend to protect its parks when they are colonized?"

The judge did not choose to answer these questions, calling them part of a "false dichotomy." At issue, she wrote, was something more specific, the "complete prohibition on taking a temporary abode including overhead protection," which, she determined, violates an individual's Charter rights. She went on: "I am mindful of the fact that there are many different ways in which the city could approach the reconciliation of the rights of the homeless with the objectives of preservation of parks." But she did not elaborate; the city could only guess what she had in mind.

All can agree that what displaced people really need is proper housing. Sadly, it is not forthcoming. Like every city in Canada, Victoria has a severe shortage of shelter beds. While the B. C. capital is famous for its mild climate, it does get cold and damp. Frequently miserable, as it was this week.

Church leader and outreach worker Allen Tysick rises early every morning to check on Victoria's homeless. He offers them coffee and doughnuts. "I'm out there at a quarter to six," he says. "I wake up the same 80 people, every day. I know these people. I know that some of them are very excited now, about the ruling. Some are heading down to Beacon Hill Park right now."

He pauses. "But really, I think we can do a hell of a lot better than tents," he says.

Homeless man responds to plea for money, gets stabbed in thanks

Canwest News Service  Published: Saturday, October 18, 2008

A 58-year-old homeless man, who almost died last week from multiple stab wounds, did nothing to provoke his attacker but give the man money because he thought he needed it, York regional police said yesterday. Investigators in a north Toronto suburb held a news conference yesterday to renew their appeal for any information about the attempted murder on Oct. 10. Police say the man was sleeping underneath a bridge in Vaughan, at about 11:30 p. m. when a passerby stopped and inquired if he was OK. A short while later, a second passerby asked the homeless man for some money. "The homeless man gives money to this person thinking that he was helping him, then the guy started stabbing him," York police Constable Gary Phillips said. The two men then rolled down an embankment near some train tracks. After the attack, the suspect fled, while the man, now severely injured, dragged himself up the embankment and crawled over a 1.5-metre-high concrete barrier at the bridge before he was discovered by a passing motorist.

 

What's behind is often more interesting than what's up front

Toronto Star article

MP tours Canada to discuss solutions with community groups

Jan 21, 2008 04:30 AM

Debra Black Staff Reporter

Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing for the poor in the GTA was one of the hot topics at a Toronto session of a national anti-poverty tour.

Unless the problems are dealt with, it is very difficult to begin to solve a lot of the other issues that face the poor, said Ken Dryden, MP for York Centre and chair of the Liberal caucus social development committee.

That's the message he heard at the national round table with community groups, held here over the weekend as part of the 16-city tour, which ends January 26 in Brandon, Man.

The themes of homelessness and lack of housing for the poor were also raised in Regina and Victoria, Dryden said.

Dryden's discussions are designed to "engage Canadians" in the Liberals' call to address what they say is an unacceptable level of poverty in Canada.

Last fall, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion announced a Liberal promise to reduce overall poverty by 30 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent, within the first five years of forming a government.

A recent United Way report stated almost 30 per cent of Toronto families – about 93,000 households raising children – are living in poverty, compared with 16 per cent in 1990.

Dryden hammered home the critical nature of affordable housing at the Toronto meeting.

"Unless a person finds some kind of stability in that way, you can't find any stability in any other way like getting training or finding a job or forming relationships that make up a life."

Government needs to make poverty a real focus, he said.

"You just don't focus on dealing with individual pieces. You need to create the environment where there is a greater will and desire to meet those individual needs."

But any serious attempt to deal with poverty has to include income support for children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities as well as public housing, transportation and child care.

"All of those are part of a serious mix of approaches. Just what the precise mix is has to do with what you think will be the most effective."

The police were strongly represented when they evicted Chris

This story about Evicting Chris was in The Globe & Mail August 24, 2006

TORONTO -- A man who has been living under a highway off-ramp for the past eight years was evicted from his makeshift home yesterday morning, following a standoff between police and activists who accuse the city of treating homeless people without respect.
Chris "Gardiner" - named after the roadway that sheltered him - was arrested along with five friends who stood by his side as police entered the small three-room house built out of scrap wood. They were all released yesterday afternoon, after being charged with trespassing and failure to leave the premises when directed, and fined $70 each.
TD
"It is the end, but it's also the beginning," Chris said in an interview after his release. "The city has not heard the last from me. They have no idea what's in store for them."
A 44-year-old with a bushy brown beard, glasses and long, brown dreadlocks tied up under a navy blue bandana, Chris held his ribs in pain, saying police had "dropped him" during the arrest.
His eviction follows a year of formal requests by the city that he move on so that construction could begin on the pillars that hold up the highway above. On Friday, he received a written notice from the city warning him to leave his shack by
12:01 a.m. yesterday.
Nearly 30 bystanders, many who camped overnight to support Chris, chanted "Shame" and "Leave Chris alone" yesterday morning as officers handcuffed and carried him out of his shack.
The dwelling, complete with a well-stocked kitchen, a propane-powered camping stove, a sink (but no running water) and a light bulb hanging from the ceiling, powered by the same battery that ran his stereo and hand-held television, was torn down by hydro workers shortly afterward. His belongings, city officials said, have been "put away in safe storage."
Chris said later that he doesn't want any of his possessions back. In fact, he has refused to accept anything from city outreach workers, who have offered him an apartment and other help. Iain De Jong, manager of the city's Streets into Homes project, said he has been trying for months to convince Chris to move into subsidized housing.
"Look around, this is a construction zone," Mr. De Jong said. "There's work being done in this area, it is not a safe environment to be living in. There will be equipment, there will be trucks going in and out, there will be dust and debris falling down from overhead."
In anticipation of the construction, Mr. De Jong said an intensive outreach program has had city workers visiting homeless people underneath the Gardiner "multiple times each day" for the last month.
But Kolin Davidson, once homeless but now an activist with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, said such programs don't respect people's rights.
"You don't send outreach workers down simply as a precursor to an eviction notice," said Mr. Davidson, who was one of the supporters arrested yesterday. "Chris was a lot safer [underneath the Gardiner] than in the slums that are available to him. The City of
Toronto has a lot to learn about building trust with people."
Mr. De Jong argued that moving people into special housing is the only way the city can solve homelessness.
"I've seen people's lives change for the better when they make the move from living underneath bridges or out in parks and into safe and affordable housing," he said.
Between February, 2005 and June, 2006, the city's Streets into Homes project moved 730 people directly from the street into housing, Mr. De Jong said. According to a city report, only 11 per cent of those people became homeless again.
"When we bring someone from the streets to a house we don't just say goodbye after that," he said. "There are dedicated staff who follow up with these individuals."
Chris says he makes $35 to $50 a week returning empty beer bottles and picking up dropped change.
Originally from
Montreal, he came to Toronto when he was 19. At 31, he said he went through "a kind of revelation" and adopted religious convictions that include a rejection of the notion of land ownership.
"You can worship your false god - the law - and claim that he owns everything. I do not," he said. "I claim that the real God owns everything including the Gardiner Expressway itself, the land under the Gardiner Expressway and the air over the Gardiner Expressway."

Chris is at the very front of this picture

Economic crisis no excuse to abandon anti-poverty fight

TheStar.com | Opinion | Oct 21, 2008 04:30 AM

Link to this article

http://www.thestar.com/article/520805     


Better benefits, housing and wages all can act as stimulants to revive our staggering economy
PAUL LACHINE/NEWSART
Taking action on poverty reduction will be crucial for our ailing economic fortunes,write Arthur Donner, Mike McCracken and Armine Yalnizyan.
The unprecedented volatility of global markets and the extreme fragility of giant financial institutions are casting long shadows on Canada and Ontario.
As Finance Minister Dwight Duncan gets set to release a fiscal update, Ontarians will be asking: What can our provincial government do to blunt negative effects on our own economy?
Taking action on poverty reduction will be crucial for our ailing economic fortunes.
In fact, just one year ago, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty spoke directly to the economic vulnerability many in his province feel when he promised to implement a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.
But now the premier is signalling a retreat on the timing for that goal, citing a slowing economy, insufficient provincial revenues and lack of federal support as excuses for inaction.
As economists, we believe the exact opposite is in order. Now is the very time to act – and there are several well-founded economic reasons why we cannot afford to delay action against economic insecurity.
For starters, the present situation demands immediate counter-cyclical measures that can trigger an economic stimulus. This stimulus package should look to our economy's greatest foot soldiers: local consumer power.
Worldwide, the consumer is the biggest economic driver in the economy, accounting for more than half of final domestic demand in Canada. Every time a recession has loomed, sustained consumer spending has either kept the economy going south or it has been the source of strength for recovery.
However, there is good reason to be concerned about consumer spending in the face of rising unemployment. Employment Insurance benefits and other income supports have been significantly eroded in the past 15 years.
Restoring their reach and purchasing power, together with investments in benefits for low- and modest-income Ontarians, is one way of stabilizing spending during bad times. The other is to ensure that work pays a living wage.
These measures counteract downturns because lower-income Ontarians spend on local economies first. That helps local businesses stay afloat during lean times.
Developing housing that low-income Ontarians can afford during a downtown is another reason why a poverty reduction strategy makes good economic sense.
In Ontario, the housing market is weakening, reflecting falling prices on homes and flat incomes of many potential buyers. An investment in residential construction that creates affordable housing options can keep thousands of middle-class workers employed.
Acting today on affordable housing can provide a much-needed boost to the economy during bad times while reducing economic insecurity and building assets for the long term.
But investments on poverty reduction are important not just because of the need for a short-term fix. Acting on poverty reduction is also smart economics because of what it means for Ontario's future prosperity.
One of the fundamental tenets of economic thinking is the return-on-investment principle. And there is overwhelming evidence that investments we make in poverty reduction today will pay huge returns tomorrow.
Take education. Every dollar spent on early childhood education – key to school success for all children – eventually returns $9 to the economy over time. And yet the vast majority of poor children in Ontario do not have access to early learning and childhood care.
It's a lesson about poverty prevention that we ignore at great peril because the child we neglect today pays the price in later years. For instance, a Grade 10 student who drops out of high school loses out on more than $120,000 in lifetime earnings.
This kind of lost potential has repercussions for all of us.
As McGuinty has repeatedly stated, poverty reduction is an essential strategy in ensuring Ontario can compete, and win, on a global stage.
He is right. It is the job of governments to look beyond the immediate crises and plan for the challenges that lie ahead.
The mass retirement of baby boomers will slow labour force growth substantially and create a great demand for a highly skilled, well-educated and productive workforce.
But poverty robs people of their health, their hope, and their potential. We cannot afford such losses. Ontario, and Canada, needs all hands on deck now to prepare for our future.
The best and cheapest poverty reduction strategy is to move swiftly with investments on affordable housing, education and training, early learning and child care, public transit, income supports and jobs that pay living wages.
Retrenching in the face of stubbornly high rates of poverty merely defers even larger costs to the taxpayer down the road. As the mechanic always warns us: "You can pay now or you can pay more later".
We urge the government of Ontario not to shrink from this opportunity to strengthen the provincial economy by investing in a poverty reduction strategy now.
The sooner we act, the sooner everyone benefits.
Arthur Donner is a Toronto-based economic consultant. Mike McCracken is CEO of Informetrica Limited. Armine Yalnizyan is a senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
A PLEDGE MADE IN BETTER TIMES TO REDUCE POVERTYIn the Nov. 29, 2007, throne speech, the McGuinty government made an explicit commitment to develop a "focused" strategy during its second term to reduce the incidence of poverty in the province:
To truly succeed as an economy, and as a society, we need everyone at his or her best.
That's what opportunity for all is all about.
It does not mean more prosperity for some and more poverty for others.
Study after study ... has underlined that we all share a responsibility to work toward lifting more families out of poverty. Your government will continue to assume its responsibility to provide these families with better opportunities.
A new cabinet committee will begin work developing poverty indicators and targets and a focused strategy for making clear-cut progress on reducing child poverty.
The strategy includes a plan that would provide dental benefits to low-income families, and builds on measures already in progress. These include boosting the minimum wage to $10.25 by 2010, increasing child-care spaces and providing more affordable housing. Your government will also fully implement the new Ontario Child Benefit, raising it to $1,100 per child.
Better benefits, housing and wages all can act as stimulants to revive our staggering economy
Another photoArt image from the day they evicted Chris

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Index of Ronzig's web pages

Website:

Down But Not Out

As well as Ronzig's Gallery, Ronzig built and maintains Down But Not Out, a website dedicated to social activism and providing information about many of the current issues that threaten to destroy our planet and the social structures we have developed. This link will take you to the Home page of Down But Not Out which was recently ranked as the 12th best website about homelessness on the internet and the following information will explain each of the pages on the website. You will have the opportunity to comment on what you learn here and read the many comments of other visitors to the site.

Learn more about Ronzig and why he created Down But Not Out and why it began as a website discussing the issues of poverty, homelessness and addiction and how it evolved into much more, encompassing issues a wide ranging as politics, war imperialism, conspiracy, economics, health, the environment and more.

Having been a crack addict for nearly 2 decades, during the 2nd of which I was homeless, I have acquired an in depth understanding of addiction, how & why it begins, what it does to a person, what is involved with getting free of this curse and the social implications of this ever increasing plague on civilization. I disclose some little known and often ignored information and insights that will assist you in coming to a better understanding of what addiction is all about.

I have created a page where visitors to Down But Not Out can contribute by telling their story about how the issues discussed on the site has affected them or someone they care about. I encourage you to read what others have to say and please tell us your story. You can remain anonymous if you prefer.

There is an extensive examination of the economy on Down But Not Out with discussions about the recession, economic collapse, the increasing disparity between the rich, the poor and the middle class. I delve into the phenomena of the shrinking middle class and the emergence of a 2 class society where an economic elite rule and the rest of us are rapidly being relegated to economic slavery.

Whether you call it Global Warning, Climate Disruption or choose to adopt one of the euphemisms that opponents to addressing this impending disaster use to seek to reduce the significance of the crisis to protect their ill gotten financial profits, it is a scientific fact that our global environment is on the brink of collapse. If meaningful and immediate action is not taken the human race along with almost all other forms of life on the Planet Earth will soon face extinction.

Whenever I have time I try to post notices of significant events that you may wish to attend including rally's, protests, political meetings, or other relevant items here. I also use this page to post notices of upcoming art shows where my work will be on display.

The social, economic and political issues revolving around health and healthcare are currently creating an environment where universal healthcare in Canada is under attack. It is evident that the elite no longer wish to ensure adequate health services for an aging population. They see no need to preserve individual health when there is no shortage of replacement economic slaves to step in when one of us succumbs to preventable illness and dies.

There is a worldwide epidemic of homelessness that has emerged in the past couple of decades to plague society and the wealthiest nations, ones with more than sufficient resources to provide housing for their populations are the worst at addressing the situation. Having lived long enough to realize that even when our society was steeped in relative poverty compared to today's situation, homelessness was never a significant problem until recently as the elite grab more and more of the world's wealth and resources, leaving the rest of us to struggle just to keep a roof over our heads.

With the advent of the internet, hope for a just society has been restored, yet there are sinister powers threatening to crush that hope. Just when internet should be reaching the point of universal global access, these powers are forcing an increasing internet divide, where surprisingly millions who once could afford access are being economically deprived of this crucial commodity, for a commodity is what it has become and it is for sale at price not reflective of costs, but of what the market will bear. Perhaps we should be considering defining internet as a Necessary Service that is available to everyone at affordable rates of free of charge.

With the corporatization of mainstream media, it's difficult to find any honest reporting in this media, as they tend to stick like flies on flypaper to the elitist party line. However even the most cynical of these outlets of information are forced to include a modicum of honesty in their reports when faced with the vast amount of conflicting evidence distributed freely on the internet. It is beneficial also to be up to date on what they are saying in order to point out the inadequacies and outright lies that they distribute.

Over the years, Ronzig has been in the news on several occasions, both as the subject of articles and as interviewee. Of course I've commented on many news items as well. you'll find some of these pieces on my news page.

There is a disturbing trend in politics that is increasingly threatening the very fabric of Democracy, or the sorry excuse for such that we have  adopted. I'm speaking of the merging of the Capitalist manifesto into the political agenda to the effect that today's politicians see their job almost exclusively as serving the requirements of capitalism and corporate profits rather than the needs of the citizens who are the true backbone of any nation.

Ever wonder how it is possible that in the richest civilization that has ever existed on the planet, extreme poverty is reaching epidemic proportions?  The answer is obvious. Every single year for the past 3 decades the wealthiest 5% of the world's population have taken control and ownership of a greater proportion of the world's resources leaving less for each of the remaining 95% of the people who have to live on this planet. In every industrialized nation the middle class is under attack and is shrinking annually as people are forced down the economic scale into the burgeoning poverty class. The truly terrifying aspect of this is the fact that the members of the middle class which is the primary target of this attack believe that when the middle class is eliminated they will be part of the elite upper class of rulers rather than economic slaves of these rulers. Because of this the middle class votes consistently for politicians who serve this elite ruling class and don't even realize they are voting for their own destruction.

In a society which professes to be primarily Christian is it not a paradox that we have created such an un-Christian attitude toward our neighbours? By assuming the philosophy of "Looking our for number ONE", we find it easy not only to allow our brothers and sisters to suffer and actually perish because they can not afford to pay for the basic requirements of survival, nourishment and shelter, but many of us are arrogant enough to hate them for their predicament. How are we to overcome this tide of apathy and animosity which in the end will destroy us if we fail?

If you group is interested in Ronzig's experiences and philosophies, I do speaking engagements and will talk on any of the topics covered here. I have had great success with audiences while speaking about homelessness & addiction, Democracy & politics as well as photography & art and would be pleased to accept a request to speak to you group.

Primarily because of American Imperialism the world has been in a constant state of war for the majority of the past 6 decades. Isn't it amazing how we can call making war on another nation a Police Action or Peacekeeping Action to camouflage the fact that we are invading a nation to seize control of its resources or to use it as a staging zone for our aggressive moves on its neighbours, yet we call defensive retaliation Terrorism? We call the slaughter of innocent civilians Collateral Damage to hide the fact that more than 80% of the people we kill in our wars are civilians primarily women and children. I find it disturbing that Prime Minister Harper has eagerly jumped into bed with the Americans and is arming Canada to fight along side our neighbours to the South as we seek to seize control of far off nations. We stand idly by and allow Israel, the puppet state of the Americans which exists solely because of American arms and financing to commit wide scale genocide in its attempt to eradicate the legitimate population of the region from the planet.

Website:

Go to Ronzig's Gallery digital photoArt, photography,  video, photographic & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto, Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images and art on ceramic tiles top home page.

Learn about Ronzig and Ronzig's Gallery: What is digital photoArt? Ronzig's guerrilla photography and video. Art on Ceramic Tiles. Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images, Mini Video Tours of Toronto. And photographic and video recording services.

View some of Ronzig's best work in a slideshow or individual images from Ronzig at Ronzig's Gallery of digital photoArt and photography.

You can contact  Ronzig's Gallery by email, telephone or by snail mail to his address to inquire about Ronzig's digital photoArt, photography, Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images. video, photography & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto and art on ceramic tiles or to purchase his products or services. You will also find numerous links to other websites where Ronzig has a presence.

Read the Legend of Ronzig the Wizard and his battle with his evil twin brother Ronzak the Sorcerer in the story of the ongoing struggle between good and evil that has been going on since the creation of the universe.

This is where you can order  Ronzig's products and services from Ronzig's Gallery such as digital photoArt,  photography & video recording services, Mini Video Tours of Toronto, art on ceramic tiles & Collector Series Postcards featuring an assortment of his best images.

Ronzig creates spectacular panorama works either as photographic images or as Digital photoArt that are available in standard sizes up to 44" x 13" on either canvas or archival quality photo paper (larger sizes available by special order).  Ronzig's Gallery will also embed a panorama image into the glaze of a series of ceramic tiles to create a unique wall or floor covering surface to your specs.

Ronzig's Digital photoArt & photographic images from Ronzig's Gallery cover a broad array of subject matter and themes resulting in highest quality art works to suit any preference. These images are all available on ceramic tiles & Collector Series Postcards as well a more traditional canvas and archival photo paper in a wide range of sizes to suit your requirements.

All of Ronzig's best work is available on Collector Series Postcards on archival photo paper, suitable not only for mailing a unique greeting to friends and loved ones, but also for framing as a group to hang on your wall.

Ronzig has done work for a wide range of clients from law firms to developers, health services facilities and the City of Toronto, all of which would certainly provide excellent references to Ronzig's Gallery.

Most of Ronzig's best work, be it video, photography or Digital photoArt is available as stock video clips or stock photo & art images at extremely reasonable prices for royalty free applications that you are producing.

Most of Ronzig's best work can be embedded into the glaze of ceramic tiles, resulting in virtually indestructible art works suitable for architectural uses such as surfaces for walls, floors, counter tops, back-splashes, fireplace surrounds or mantlepieces. As home furnishing uses they provide unique surfaces for tables or any other flat surfaced furniture. There is a series of 4" x 4" tiles with a protective backing designed for use as coasters that are bound to intrigue your guests as you entertain. Of course they make timeless stand alone art suitable for framing or placing on a stand for display.

Ronzig produces a wide range of videos, including Documentary works, event recording such as children's birthdays, activism and social protest works, art films, Mini Video Tours and special effects clips. Ronzig's Gallery is fully equipped and has access to support professionals to create original works with multi-camera filming, still photography and custom music for any production. He is presently working on a special fx movie, The Legend of Ronzig the Wizard, for which he the writer, art and costume designer, producer director and star.

 All Rights Reserved No part of this page may be copied without the express written consent of the author Ronzig
 
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