Anti-panhandling legislation in Ontario is costly and ineffectual. These are the results of a recent study done on the Ontario Safe Streets Act (SSA). Implementing the Act has cost Ontarians close to $1 Million. The fines or jail time for panhandling are given to people who are largely homeless, mentally ill and/or suffering from addictions. The fines given out so far total over $4 million. Almost none of that money has been collected, showing that as a penalty, fines do not work on panhandlers.
If panhandlers are not homeless they soon might be. The maximum penalty for panhandling is 6 months in jail. When jail over 30 days is imposed social assistance programs like ODSP and OW stop paying rent for the incarcerated person. This can lead to eviction, so when they are released panhandlers are forced back onto the street, actually increasing homelessness.
Outstanding panhandling fines count against a driver’s license, so the SSA makes it harder for homeless people to find jobs, keeping them on the street longer.
Fair Change Community Services is a free legal clinic that helps people to fight panhandling tickets and reduce debt from past, unpaid tickets. As a member of the Coalition to Repeal the SSA, Fair Change calls upon the Ontario Government to take action against this wasteful and hurtful legislation.
To download the study visit: http://www.homelesshub.ca/caniseeyourID
You can view the Coalition’s Website here: http://www.homelesshub.ca/RepealSSA