New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon would like to see a basic income guarantee replace the province’s social assistance program which has led to “government enforced poverty.”

“It’s a different kind of social assistance system, that’s for sure. It’s simpler,” Coon said in an interview with Information Morning Moncton.

“It doesn’t have the clawbacks. It doesn’t have these awful rules that really bind people in poverty and prevent them from getting ahead in any way.”

Coon tabled a bill on Tuesday that would amend the Family Income Security Act, which provides funding to people who can’t support themselves financially.

The case began in Boise, Idaho, in 2009, when six homeless people sued the city for prosecuting them. They argued that the city’s laws violated their constitutional rights. The case later reached the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California. In 2018, the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment, prohibits punishing homeless people if there are more of them than there are available shelter beds.

The appeals court said: “As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.” The city of Boise then appealed this ruling to the United States Supreme Court on December 6, 2019.

With no dissenting opinions, the U.S. Supreme Court on December 16 struck a blow to cities that would refuse homeless people basic civil and human rights. Refusing to hear Boise’s appeal, the Supreme Court let stand the 9th Circuit’s ruling that the homeless have the constitutional right to live on city streets and in public parks if a city does not provide enough shelter beds for them.

By the end of the day, more than two dozen homeless residents at the Cornerstone and Gospel Mission shelters will have moved into the new Fuller Place bridge shelter in Kelowna, freeing up space for homeless campers to move inside.

Eleven Cornerstone residents were moved over yesterday but their beds in Cornerstone were not opened to other homeless people until today, Dec. 17, Dawn Himer, executive director of the John Howard Society which manages both facilities, told iNFOnews.ca.

Plans call for another 10 people to move from Cornerstone today and five from Gospel Mission.

Outreach workers handed out notices at the Recreation Avenue tent encampment today, letting people know the beds were opening up. Seven campers were offered beds at Fuller House with a move-in date set for tomorrow.

The NB Media Co-op editorial board recently reviewed its archive and found 64 articles tagged “social assistance” going back to the earliest days of our publication, February 2009. This archive is evidence of the many social injustices existing across New Brunswick. The majority of these injustices continue to exist in New Brunswick in 2019, ten years later. New Brunswickers are waiting for our government to take action.

Our stories include tales of hardship, food insecurity, and housing insecurity that affect thousands of New Brunswick residents who simply cannot afford to live within existing social assistance conditions. Our review of these articles found that successive governments in the last number of years have failed even to adjust the basic rate of social assistance for inflation. At the same time, our archive also contains stories about the lack of revenue coming into provincial coffers due to decreases in taxes on corporations and the most wealthy earners. The actions of successive governments to increase the wealth of our most privileged residents at the expense of our most vulnerable residents flies in the face of social justice.

Homeless memorial notes 995th name, Dec. 11

What a shocking statistic! Who is taking responsibility for helping the most vulnerable in Toronto? With 100,000 families on the waiting list for subsidized housing and 9,000 homeless people relying on shelters, Toronto is facing more than a “critical issue” in housing.

How desperate must access to housing have to be before we wake up and admit that Toronto has an emergency housing crisis? The article states that “13 people have died in this city in the last 30 days.”

Bold action and serious soul-searching needs to be undertaken by Toronto city council prior to finalizing a 10-year blueprint for a new housing action plan.

A homeless man who hitchhiked to Cape Breton because he needed a bed at a local emergency shelter says people who stay there are treated like criminals.

Keith, who didn’t want his last name used, told the Cape Breton Post he’s been sleeping at the Community Homeless Shelter since Dec. 6. He spent the first few nights at the former Margaret Street location but said it’s been a much different experience since the shelter relocated to Townsend Street on Dec. 9.

Now he said people who come to the shelter are forced to empty their pockets and staff search their bags.

“They search you like they’re cops. That’s not the way to treat somebody that’s having a hard time,” said Keith, 50, a United States Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have rights. Just because we’re homeless and in a bad situation doesn’t mean you have the right to treat us like we’re going to jail.”