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2010 Homeless Hunger Strike Relay - Day 5 is under my belt!

March 19, 2009 

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2 

Via Email 

Dear Prime Minister Harper, 

Hunger Strike Day 5 Draws to an end with no Homeless Economic Action Plan in Sight 

Each day is getting tougher and every couple of minutes my mind yells “EAT SOMETHING”.  My wife was feeling ill after work so she asked me if it would be cruel punishment for me to cook dinner for her.  I had to decline.  She blames you J which just goes to show how lucky I am to have such a supportive partner.  I will make it up to her in a few days so no worries. 

I’m wondering if you have heard of “The One Percent Solution”.  It was started in 1998 by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee and it calls for governments to make a long-term commitment to spend one percent of their budgets on a new national housing program.  It includes recommendations for funding of new social housing, supportive housing, rehabilitation, and increased spending on shelter for the homeless.  It has very broad based support from the housing sector and makes a lot of sense. 

I went to your government’s Economic Action Plan website and typed in the word “homeless” on your search engine.  The response was “Search Results – No documents matched the query”.  Now I’m sure that you (or your office staff or your Ministers or DM’s or senior civil servants) and I could get into a big discussion about what is or isn’t in the budget and I would surely be outgunned in my arguments, however, if the word homeless does not even appear in the Economic Action Plan or the 2009 Budget it is clearly not a priority for your government.  The priorities must change! 

Tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of Canadians are dealing with homelessness every day.  As I mentioned in an earlier letter to you, in a country as rich and prosperous as Canada it is a national shame that this continues to happen.  In addition to the shame, it just seems to be extremely silly that all the analysis done to date shows that providing appropriate housing and services is less expensive than having people living on the street due to the strain on other sectors of society including police, health care, justice, insurance, education…..the list goes on.   

The homeless have many faces:  children are starving and falling behind in their development; disadvantaged youth are on an uneven playing field in the job market; the mentally ill go unsupported and continue to spiral; fragile seniors are living on liquid nutritional supplements because they can’t afford decent food; families living in cars; the poor living under a flattened cardboard box, all of them out in the cold.  What will it take to stop this madness?  I believe that YOU can stop it.  Just think of the legacy!!!  You could bump Don Cherry out of his top-10 spot on the list of “Greatest Canadians”! 

Fifteen non-meals for me this week.  Eight more to go.  I’m dreaming of roast lamb for breakfast on Sunday, however, I’l l probably have to start with something a little less rich….maybe oatmeal.  Anyway, I don’t think that my favourite Greek restaurant is open for breakfast. 

Sincerely,

Robert O’Dea

Vancouver BC  

cc.  Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

      Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Official Opposition                  

       Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP                  

       Libby Davies, MP                  

       Premier Gordon Campbell

     Jenny Kwan, MLA                  

      James Moore, MP

     Stockwell Day, MP

     Mayor Gregor Robertson

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