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We’re all helping to kill the homeless

We’re all helping to kill the homeless

Who is killing the homeless in Toronto? Everybody.

We do it through bad government policies resulting in misused and misplaced scarce resources, public apathy, the law, and decisions made by the homeless themselves.

Four people died from the cold on the streets of Toronto in the first few weeks of January.

The instant reaction from city government was to put more resources into opening shelter spaces, including renting hotel rooms.

There would be no need to scramble for funding for such a measure if the provincial government was not wasting billions of dollars “protecting” us from the heat with its Green Energy Act. We’ve known this for a long time.

In 2013, as the Fraser Institute reported, “The Auditor General of Ontario estimates that the province has already lost close to $2 billion on surplus wind exports, and figures from the electricity grid operator show the ongoing losses are $200 million annually.”

Yet the Ontario Liberals are planning to increase the number of wind turbines in the province.

They hook on to “alarming statistics” such as the recent headline 2014 was the warmest year on record.

But as Tom Harris of the skeptical International Climate Science Coalition noted in the Toronto Sun, “the record for the year was set by four one-hundredths of a degree Celsius … but the uncertainty factor in this temperature statistic is nine one-hundredths of a degree.”

That’s hardly worth wasting billions of dollars trying to “cool” the planet. We are focused on the wrong problem.

What about the law?

When one man died at a bus shelter, severely under-dressed for the severe cold, many people self-righteously said things like, “Someone saw that man, and yet did nothing.”

Perhaps, but if a homeless person refuses assistance from the public or the police, even if it is obvious to everyone but the homeless person that he or she needs help, can anything be done legally to help them?

Declaring the person mentally incompetent in order to compel them to receive care is occasionally used, but it’s a difficult process.

So, do we have a Charter right to be left alone, even in a t-shirt and jeans on a bitterly cold night?

Criminal lawyer Ed Prutschi of says: “Short of someone in the throes of active self-harm, where medical authorities might intervene to prevent suicide, people have the autonomy and right to choose severe discomfort and even danger by refusing to go accept help at a shelter. This is particularly complicated by the claims of many homeless people that the shelters themselves are dangerous places and hence they’d prefer to take their chances on the street.”

What kills homeless people other than the cold?

Substance abuse and suicide due to mental health issues, accidents and, like the rest of us, heart disease and cancer.

Improved services for those issues would take a giant step forward with even half of that $200 million annually we are wasting on a questionable quest to “save the planet”.

What about public apathy?

Governments jump in to provide temporary solutions such as more shelters when it is cold in order to lull us into thinking they care and are “on it.” And we move on.

So what is the priority for an already over-taxed public and for elected officials?

If it’s wind turbines, perhaps more dead homeless people is the price we are willing to pay.

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