Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

REMEMBRANCE DAY FOR PEACE

Posted by strattof on November 10, 2019

Monday, November 11, is Remembrance Day. This year’s Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the first Remembrance Day. Originally called Armistice Day, it was observed throughout the British Commonwealth on November 11, 1919 to mark the end of World War I.

World War I was supposed to be “the war to end all wars” because of the unprecedented scale of the slaughter—with tens of thousands falling in a single day to machine guns and poison gas.

Today, war rages on.

Initially, November 11 was a day of sad remembrance and dedication to peace.

Today, Remembrance Day is a day for displays of support for the military and for current wars.

When will we ever learn!

TO REMEMBER IS TO WORK FOR PEACE!

CANADA MAKES WAR

ENDLESS WAR

Since 2001, Canada has been endlessly at war:

AFGHANISTAN      October 2001 – March 2014: 12+ years 

LIBYA                       March 2011 – October 2011: 7 months 

IRAQ                          October 2014 – ongoing 

SYRIA                       March 2015 – ongoing 

UKRAINE                 September 2015 – ongoing 

LATVIA                    June 2017 – ongoing

MORE WAR-MAKING

  • 2017: Canada was not one of the 122 countries that signed a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
  • 2018: Canada sold over $2 billion worth of arms.
  • 2019: Canada extended its military mission in Iraq until 2021.
  • 2019: Canada purchased 15 new warships at a cost $70 billion.

WAR IS A DISASTER

War is a disaster for everyone and everything it touches:

  • Soldiers are killed, maimed, traumatized.
  • Civilians in the war zone pay a tremendous price: death, injury, bereavement, displacement, trauma.
  • War is also a disaster for the climate, resulting in vast amounts of carbon pollution.
  • Then there are the billions of dollars squandered on war that could be spent on ending poverty and homelessness.

TO REMEMBER IS TO WORK FOR PEACE

Tell Prime Minister Trudeau you want Canada to

  • Make diplomatic peacemaking a top priority.
  • Get out of Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and Latvia.
  • Sign the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons.
  • Stop buying and selling arms.
  • Fight climate change, not war.
  • Use the money currently spent on war-making to end poverty and homelessness in Canada.

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211

WE WANT PEACE

Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their difference themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder. –Harry Patch, British veteran of World War I 

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy?—Mahatma Gandhi 

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.—Albert Einstein 

You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace.—Michael Franti 

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. – Major General Smedley Butler 

All we are saying is give peace a chance.—John Lennon  

Our motto should be: let us make peace so that we can concentrate on the really important work that needs to be done. That is, alleviating the plight of the poor and the defenceless, for as long as most of humanity feels the pain of poverty, we all remain prisoners.—Nelson Mandela

WHITE POPPIES, RED POPPIES, & RED BUTTONS

WHITE POPPIES

Some of us are wearing white poppies. The white poppy is a symbol of peace, of our hope for an end to all wars, and of our commitment to work for a world where conflicts are resolved without violence and with justice. 

RED POPPIES

Some of us are also wearing red poppies to honour Canada’s vet-erans. We are especially concerned about the 40,000 Canadians who served in Afghanistan and the challenges they are facing.

RED BUTTONS

The red button is the work of the Mennonite Central Committee. It reads: “TO REMEMBER IS TO WORK FOR PEACE.” War is not necessary or inevitable. Peaceful alternatives exist, as do non-violent means to resolve conflicts.

If you would like a white poppy or a red button, please ask one of us. We are happy to give you one of each, as long as our supplies last.

To order white poppies for future Remembrance Days, go to: www.peacepoppies.ca

To order red peace buttons, phone the Mennonite Central Committee office in Saskatoon—1-306-665-2555—or go to https://mcccanada.ca/learn/what/peace/peace-buttons

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SCARY REGINA

Posted by strattof on November 1, 2019

Be afraid! Be very afraid!! With Halloween upon us, we seek out the genuinely frightening things in our city.

They’re scarier than ghosts, goblins, and witches. They’re scarier than Darke Hall, the site of a number of deaths and ghost sightings. They’re even scarier than the building on Dewdney Avenue, now home to Bushwakkers, where a ghost is regularly spotted on the premises.

For a genuine fright, turn the page to see what is REALLY SCARY in Regina.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

NIGHTMAYOR ON FOUGERE STREET: 3 SERIOUSLY SCARY THINGS IN REGINA

  1. NOT ENDING HOMELESSNESS

2,200 people are homeless in Regina. Imagine the daily, even hourly, struggles these 2,200 people face: Where am I going to sleep tonight? Where can I find food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Where can I find a public washroom?

Nothing ends homelessness like a home. But rather than putting city money into a Housing First program, Mayor Fougere’s preferred solution to Regina’s homelessness crisis, the City of Regina paid out-of-province consultants $120,000 to come up with a plan to end homelessness.

The plan calls for no funding from the city. It does, however, require a contribution, over a five-year period, of $25 million from the federal government and $38 million from the provincial government. These contributions are unlikely to be forthcoming. 

Rather than ending, homelessness will continue to increase.

  1. CLIMATE INACTION

In 2018, Regina City Council voted unanimously to Make Regina a Renewable City by 2050. That’s the good news. It’s what happened next that is scary.

Rather than taking action to reduce the city’s carbon footprint—by, for example, starting to replace Regina Transit’s fleet of diesel buses with electric buses—the city decided to host a conference. And it has invited the oil and gas industry to attend!

  1. SCARY SCHOOL DAYS

Schools are supposed to be safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces. Shockingly, on October 15, Regina Public School Board members voted 4 to 3 against a motion calling for schools to “recognize and support the celebration of Pride week.”

In so doing, they sent a devastating message to LGBTQ2S+ students and pushed them further to the margins. They also went against the Shared Values of Regina Public Schools: ●I belong ●I respect ●I am responsible ●I want to know.

Board Chair Katherine Gagne voted against the motion, as did Board members Jane Ekong, Tanya Foster, and Jay Kasperski.

3 MOE SCARY STORIES, THIS TIME FROM THE LEGISLATURE

  1. FIRE BURNING IN THE PRAIRIES

“There is a fire burning here in the Prairie provinces.” That was Premier Scott Moe‘s reaction to the results of the federal election.

Moe is right! There is a fire burning on the prairies—and everywhere else too. It’s called global warming.

But Moe wasn’t talking about climate disaster. Rather, he was referring to what he calls “regional alienation,” brought about by the federal carbon tax, which he wants cancelled, and by the fed-eral government’s failure to get any new tar sands pipelines built.

Is Premier Moe a climate-change denier? Whatever the case, both a cancelled carbon tax and a new pipeline will worsen humanity’s chances of surviving the looming climate catastrophe.

  1. ON THE BACKS OF THE POOR

Over the past four years, the Saskatchewan Party government has made many cuts to income assistance programs, including:

2018: The elimination of the Rental Housing Supplement—a monthly payment that helped low-income families and persons with disabilities pay their rent.

2019: The introduction of the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program, falsely advertised as boosting benefits: In fact, SIS recipients will receive less, as, unlike the two programs it is replacing, SIS wraps utility bills into monthly shelter allowances.

People on income assistance already live below the poverty line.

  1. A MISERABLE MINIMUM WAGE

On October 1, the provincial government raised the minimum wage a whole 26 cents, to $11.32 an hour. This is a poverty-level wage—and the lowest minimum wage in Canada!

How much would a full-time worker need to earn to stay out of poverty in Saskatchewan? A recent study puts the figure at $17.98—enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Regina.

TRICK OR TREAT: 2020 CITY & PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS

TELL MAYOR FOUGERE & YOUR CITY COUNCILLOR

It’s homes, not costly reports, that end homelessness; and you want the City of Regina to contribute to the Plan To End Homelessness: $5 million annually for a five year period, the amount of city tax dollars going annually to pay for Mosaic Stadium. www.regina.ca/about-regina/contact-us/contact-councillor/

ALSO LET THE MAYOR & YOUR CITY COUNCILLOR KNOW

That you want them to take real action to reduce Regina’s carbon footprint: For example, the city could begin replacing Regina Transit’s fleet of diesel buses with electric buses and start putting solar panels on the roofs of city buildings.

TELL THE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS WHO VOTED AGAINST THE PRIDE MOTIION

That schools are supposed to be safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces and that you want them to resign from the School Board:

katherine.gagne@rbe.sk.ca; jay.kasperski@rbe.sk.ca;; jane.ekong@rbe.sk.ca; tanya.foster@rbe.sk.ca.

TELL PREMIER SCOTT MOE TO

  • Act on climate science: Yes to a carbon tax. No to pipelines.
  • Reverse all the cuts to income assistance programs.
  • Make the minimum wage a living wage.

premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433

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ELECTION SPECIAL: 5 KEY QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES

Posted by strattof on October 14, 2019

# 1. WHAT WILL YOUR PARTY DO TO END HOMELESSNESS IN CANADA?

  • 235,000 people are currently homeless in Canada.
  • 2,200 of those homeless people live in Regina.

How much would it cost to end homelessness in Canada? In 2017, the Trudeau government promised that, with $42 billion in spending, it would cut Canada’s homelessness in half by 2030.

What kind of country would purposely condemn 117,500 of its citizens to the misery and suffering that is homelessness?

According to the Trudeau government figure, it would cost $84 billion to end homelessness in Canada by 2030. Where would the money come from?

How much does Canada spend on war? Right now, it’s about $25 billion annually. And the Liberals have promised to increase military spending to $32 billion annually by 2030.

# 2. WHAT WILL YOU DO TO AVOID CLIMATE CATASTROPHE?

  • Canada ranks last among the G7 economies in terms of meaningful climate action. Canada produces more CO2 emissions per person than any other G20 country.
  • The oil and gas sector is Canada’s biggest emitter, accounting for 27% of emissions. The majority of this pollution comes from the tar sands, the single largest polluter in the country.
  • Canada subsidizes the fossil fuel industry to the tune of an estimated $3.3 billion per year.
  • In 2018, the Canadian government bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a tar sands pipeline, for $4.5 billion, and is now promoting its construction. (We must stop this pipeline!)

It’s too late for moderation. To avoid climate catastrophe, we need radical change. A Green New Deal offers a plan for such change.

What is a Green New Deal? In part, it means a quick transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy.

But a Green New Deal means more than a transformation of the energy sector. It also means challenging the exploitative nature of our current economic system and making it fairer and more just. This is a key insight of a Green New Deal: that for an energy transition to work, it has to work for everyone.

How does a Green New Deal plan to transform both the energy industry and the entire economy? Its proposals include:

  • An end to fossil fuel subsidies and reinvestment in renewables
  • A just transition for oil industry workers
  • Thousands of green new jobs
  • A living wage for workers
  • Free early and post-secondary education
  • Fare-free and zero-carbon public transit
  • Recognizing Indigenous sovereignty and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

It’s ambitious! It’s expensive! Where will the money for a Green New Deal come from? Canada just purchased 15 battle ships at a cost of $70 billion. Under a Green New Deal, all the money spent on war, itself a massive source of climate pollution, would be spent on combatting social injustice and decarbonizing the economy.

# 3. WILL YOU STOP DISCRIMNATING AGAINST FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN?

2007: The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society took Canada to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to stop its chronic underfunding of child welfare and family services on First Nations.

2007 – 2013: The federal government made many attempts to have the case thrown out, racking up $5.3 million in legal fees.

2016: The Tribunal ruled against the Canadian government, ordering it to cease its discriminatory practices and to compensate children apprehended or taken from their home on First Nations.

September 6, 2019: The Tribunal found the federal government had “willfully and recklessly” discriminated against First Nations children and ordered it to provide $40,000 in compensation to each child harmed by the underfunded child welfare system.

October 4, 2019: The Trudeau government challenged the September ruling, calling for a judicial review.

Canada’s current child welfare system is part of Canada’s ongoing legacy of genocide against Indigenous Peoples.

# 4. WILL YOU WELCOME MIGRANTS?

No one leaves home unless

Home is the mouth of a shark

These are the opening lines of the poem Home, by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. Today millions of people are being forced from their homelands

  • By wars that have been caused, directly or indirectly, by western foreign policy.
  • By the impoverishment of their countries by western corporations, including Canadian mining interests (how poor countries develop rich countries).
  • By the impacts of climate change.

Yet we are told that migrants are a threat to our way of life! Why aren’t white people ever told to “go back where you came from”?

If you are suffering in one of the richest countries in the world, the person who’s taking from you isn’t a brown person or an immigrant or another poor person, it’s the people with power telling you to blame someone else.El Jones, Canadian poet, academic, & activist

 # 5. WHAT WILL YOUR PARTY DO ABOUT RISING INCOME EQUALITY?

Canada’s richest CEOs earn more than 200 times the average income of Canadian workers. 4.9 million people live in poverty in Canada. That’s 1 in every 7 Canadians.

Here are five policies the federal government can adopt to address economic inequality in Canada:

  1. Wealth Tax: A 1% annual tax on household incomes over $20 million 
  2. Inheritance Tax: A tax of 45% on estates over $3.5 million 
  3. Robin Hood Tax: A small tax on trades in stocks, bonds, currencies, and other financial products
  4. Destination-based Corporate Taxation: A tax based on the share of sales by corporations, such as Amazon, to customers in Canada
  5. Tax Loophole & Offshore Tax Haven Crackdown: Tax loopholes and havens are used by many wealthy Canadians to avoid paying their fair share of the taxes.

These proposals would put a serious dent in wealth inequality. They would also provide the federal government with revenue to help pay for projects such as ending homelessness, taking climate action, sponsoring refugees, and eliminating racial discrimination against First Nations children.

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MAKE PEACE AN ELECTION ISSUE

Posted by strattof on October 14, 2019

MAKE PEACE, NOT WAR! Why haven’t any of the federal parties adopted this as their election slogan?

Instead, the Liberal Party is telling us to CHOOSE FORWARD, a reference to Canada’s presumed progress since the last election.

There is nothing forward-looking about the Liberal Party’s war-making policies. Indeed, they are very backward-looking.

  • Skyrocketing war spending
  • Never-ending military missions
  • Record-breaking arms sales

The Liberals have even refused to sign the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, endorsed by 122 nations in 2017.

Not that the Conservative Party is any better. Its election slogan— IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GET AHEAD—is an appeal to naked self-interest. With the exception of war profiteers, war is in no one’s interest. Yet the Conservatives plan to spend more on war-making than the Liberals. They have even pledged to join the US Ballistic Missile Program, something both Liberal and Conserv-ative governments have refused to do since the early 2000s.

Laudably, both the NDP and the Green Party have included peace in their platforms. Sadly, neither is placing much emphasis on it.

MAKE PEACE, NOT WAR!

CANADA MAKES WAR

ENDLESS WAR

AFGHANISTAN     October 2001 – March 2014: 12+ years

LIBYA                     March 2011 – October 2011: 7 months

IRAQ                      October 2014 – ongoing

SYRIA                     March 2015 – ongoing

UKRAINE               September 2015 – ongoing

LATVIA                  June 2017 – ongoing

MORE WAR MAKING

  • 2017: Canada increased its war spending by 70% over the next 10 years. 
  • 2017: Canada was not one of the 122 countries that signed a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
  • 2018: Canada extended its commitment to the NATO battle group in Latvia to 2023.
  • 2018: Canada exported between $2 and $3 billion worth of military equipment.
  • 2019: Canada extended its military mission in Iraq until 2021 and in Ukraine until 2022.
  • 2019: Canada purchased 15 new warships at a cost of $70 billion over the next 25 years and is about to purchase 88 fighter jets for $19 billion.

WAR IS A DISASTER

War is a disaster for everyone it touches.

  • Soldiers are killed, maimed, traumatized.
  • Civilians in the war zone pay a tremendous price: death, injury, bereavement, displacement, trauma.
  • Then there are the billions of dollars squandered on war that could have been spent on ending poverty and homelessness, or implementing all the Calls For Action and Justice of the TRC and MMIWG reports, or fighting climate change.

War is a disaster for the climate

War-making consumes vast amounts of fossil fuel and causes vast amounts of carbon pollution.

FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE, NOT WAR!

WAR IS STUPID

You see two children fighting. What do you do?

  1. Encourage them to keep on fighting?
  2. Break up the fight and ask them to work out their differences in a non-violent manner?

WHY IS CANADA NOT WORKING FOR PEACE?

There are three main reasons:

  1. Canada’s dependence on the US for its foreign policy
  2. Canada’s membership in the US-led military alliance NATO
  3. Profits for the Canadian arms industry

A FORWARD-LOOKING PEACE PLATFORM

What Canada needs is a forward-looking peace platform. Such a platform would require Canada to

  • Withdraw from the military missions in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and Latvia
  • Make diplomatic peacemaking a top priority
  • Develop a foreign policy independent of the US
  • Get out of NATO
  • Stop selling and buying arms
  • Sign the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons
  • Fight poverty and homelessness and racism and climate change—not war

MAKE PEACE AN ELECTION ISSUE

  • Ask all the candidates in your riding where their party stands on peace.
  • Let the leaders of the major parties know you want Canada to make peace, not war.

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211

andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca or 306-790-4727

Jagmeet.Singh@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-7224

Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca or 613-996-1119

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TREATY 4: 145th ANNIVERSARY

Posted by strattof on September 12, 2019

Sunday will mark the 145th anniversary of Treaty 4, also known as the Qu’Appelle Treaty. Signed on September 15, 1874 at Fort Qu’Appelle, Treaty 4 was negotiated, on a nation-to-nation basis, by the Cree, Saulteaux, and Assiniboine First Nations with the Crown representing the Canadian government.

As the map above shows, the land covered by Treaty 4 represents most of southern Saskatchewan, as well as small portions of Manitoba and Alberta.

The Canadian government’s goal in signing Treaty 4 was to gain this land for European settlement, agriculture, and industry. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald also wanted the land to complete Canada’s first transcontinental railway—a railway that would ultimately run through Regina.

In signing Treaty 4, the Cree, Saulteaux, and Assiniboine First Nations agreed to share the land and its resources with the newcomers. Instead, they were forced by a policy of deliberate starvation, implemented in 1878 by the government of John A. Macdonald, to move onto tiny reserves the government had allotted to them.

For the past 145 years, the Cree, Saulteaux, and Assiniboine First Nations have kept their side of the Treaty 4 agreement. When will the Canadian government start to keep its Treaty 4 promises?

“AS LONG AS THE SUN SHINES”: BROKEN TREATY PROMISES

“As long as the sun shines and the water flows.” These are the words of Treaty 4 Commissioner Alexander Morris. Morris was echoing the words of First Nations leaders and thus indicating that, from the perspective of the Crown and the Canadian government, the Treaty would be everlasting.

The sun is still shining and the water or river is still flowing. Why, then, is the Government of Canada still refusing to keep its Treaty promises?

The consequences of broken Treaty promises have been dire for Indigenous Peoples. For example:

POVERTY

Indigenous Peoples experience the highest levels of poverty in Canada:

  • 25% of Indigenous Peoples in Canada live in poverty.
  • 47% of First Nations children in Canada live in poverty.
  • The figure is even worse in Saskatchewan, where 66% of First Nations children live in poverty.

Why are Indigenous Peoples more likely to be poor than other Canadians? Before the arrival of European settlers, Indigenous Peoples enjoyed 100% of the land and resources of what was to become Canada. Then, in the words of the late Arthur Manuel, a First Nations political leader, “the biggest land theft in the history of mankind” occurred and Indigenous Peoples “were reduced by the settlers to a tiny patchwork of reserves that consisted of only 0.2% of the landmass of Canada, the territory of our existing reserves, with the settlers claiming 99.8% for themselves.”

This stolen land continues to generate fabulous wealth for settler Canadian society.

ILL-HEALTH

Poverty and ill-health are closely linked. The life expectancy for Indigenous Peoples in Canada is 15 years shorter than for other Canadians.

Indigenous poverty is part of the ongoing genocide committed by the Canadian state against Indigenous Peoples.

A SCHOOL ON EVERY RESERVE

Treaty 4 also promised “to maintain a school on the reserve allotted to each band.” Instead the Government of Canada implemented the residential school system.

  • Established in 1876, Canada’s residential school system lasted for over a century—until 1996 when the last residential school, Gordon’s School in Punnichy SK, closed.
  • More than 150,000 children attended the schools, having been forcibly removed from their families and communities.
  • Mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse were rife at the schools. Food was often insufficient and of poor quality. In most cases, schools were poorly maintained and overcrowded.
  • At least 6,000 children died at the schools from malnutrition, disease, and abuse. Many of the children were buried unceremoniously in unmarked graves.
  • In the words of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, the residential school system was “an integral part of a conscious policy of cultural genocide.”      

TREATY 4 FLAG

The Treaty 4 flag was designed by Gordon Oakes, an influential elder from the Nekaneet Cree Nation, on Treaty 4 territory. At the flag’s centre is the medicine wheel, used by generations of Indigenous Peoples in North America for health and healing and as a tool for learning and teaching.

The wheel or circle represents the connectedness of everything—all our relations—while the four sections of the wheel represent the four directions and the teachings related to them.

The sections on the Treaty 4 flag also represent the promise that the Treaty would last “as long as the sun shines, the river flows, and the grass grows.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT TREATY 4 & BROKEN TREATY PROMISES

  1. The Treaty 4 flag flies permanently in front of Regina City Hall. Next time you’re in the area have a look at it.
  2. Next time you are driving north on Albert Street in the Golden Mile area, keep an eye out to your right for a bright sign on the top of the Mackenzie Art Gallery: “As long as the sun shines, the river flows, and the grass grows.” A sculpture by renowned Indigenous artist Duane Linklater, it is titled Kâkikê / Forever —a reminder of all the Treaty promises made and broken by Canadian settler society.  
  3. Attend the screening of We Were Children at Central Library, Wednesday September 25. 6:30 pm. The film tells the story of two residential school survivors.  
  4. Read Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual For Decolonization: https://fpse.ca/sites/default/files/news_files/ Decolonization%20Handbook.pdf
  5.  Learn about Cindy Blackstock’s ongoing work to end inequities in funding for First Nations children, youth, and families. Google “Cindy Blackstock First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.”

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LABOUR DAY MATTERS

Posted by strattof on September 2, 2019

Labour Day is an annual holiday to recognize the economic and social achievements of workers. In Canada, it traces its origins to December 1872 when a parade was staged in support of the Toronto Typographical Union’s strike for a 58-hour work-week. Since 1894, it has been celebrated on the first Monday in September.

Today, Canadians tend to treat Labour Day as the last holiday weekend of the summer. But whether we are barbequing on the patio or cheering on the Riders in the Labour Day Classic, we can take a moment to acknowledge the many accomplishments of Saskatchewan workers.

We might also spare a thought for the many challenges facing today’s workers, including: A poverty-level minimum wage The gig economy Dangerous work places; Attacks on unions.

THE MINIMUM WAGE: 4 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What is the current minimum wage in Saskatchewan?

$11.06 an hour, the lowest minimum wage in Canada. On October 1, the minimum wage will be raised by a whole 26 cents, to $11.32 an hour. Saskatchewan will still have the lowest minimum wage in Canada.

  1. How much would a full-time worker have to earn to stay out of poverty in Saskatchewan?
  • A new Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study puts the figure at $17.98. That would be enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Regina. A single parent would need $22.62 to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Fight For $15 Saskatchewan puts the figure at $15—for starters.
  1. What are some of the effects on workers of a poverty-level minimum wage?
  • Food bank use has grown 77% in Saskatchewan since 2008.
  • 11% of children in Saskatchewan live in poverty. The national average for child poverty is 9%.
  1. How many Saskatchewan workers earn the minimum wage?

Approximately 16,200, with women making up 65% of them. One in five Saskatchewan workers earns less than $15 an hour.

WHY NOT A MAXIMUM WAGE?

In 2018, Cameco CEO Tim Gizel took home $6.8 million. That’s 282 times what a minimum wage worker in Saskatchewan earned.

Why is there no maximum wage?

The gap between rich and poor is growing increasingly wider in Saskatchewan.

  • Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour—for starters.
  • Raise the taxes on the wealthy.

THE GIG ECONOMY

The gig economy is growing in Saskatchewan. More and more people are working for ride-sharing and restaurant and grocery pickup and delivery businesses.

Here’s the problem: Gig economy workers have no guarantee of getting even the minimum wage, pathetic as it is. How can this be?

  • The giants of the gig economy—multibillion dollar corpor-ations such as Uber and Skip the Dishes—insist their workers are not employees, but rather are independent contractors.
  • The classification matters, for, under provincial labour law, employees, but not contractors, are entitled to certain rights, including a guaranteed minimum wage and the right to strike.

In other words, the gig economy is undermining hard-fought for labour protection in place for a century. The good news is that gig economy workers are beginning to fight back. Let’s support them!

DANGEROUS WORK PLACES

  • 48 people lost their lives in Saskatchewan because of their work in 2018. That’s a 60% increase in fatalities.
  • With the highest fatality rate in the country, Saskatchewan is the most dangerous place to be a worker in Canada.

One way to prevent fatalities is to increase penalties for employers who do not take worker health and safety seriously.

UNIONS UNDER ATTACK

The main purpose of labour unions is to give workers the power to negotiate for more favourable working conditions and other benefits through collective bargaining.

Since the 1970s, unions have been under attack in Canada, with federal and provincial governments introducing legislation to reverse collective bargaining rights.

A recent example is the Saskatchewan government’s 2007 Essential Services Act—legislation that took away the right to strike from many workers and thus weakened their ability to bargain freely with their employers. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that this Act was unconstitutional.

TAKE ACTION FOR LABOUR DAY

  • Let Premier Scott Moe know you want Saskatchewan to have ►the highest (not the lowest) minimum wage in Canada and ►a minimum wage that is a living wage: For starters, that would mean raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Also let the Premier know you want ►gig workers to be classified as employees in provincial labour law and ►harsher penalties for employers who do not take worker health and safety seriously: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.
  • Send Minister of Labour Relations, Don Morgan, the same message: minister@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-5353.
  • Attend the LABOUR DAY FAMILY PICNIC: Monday September 2, noon – 3:30 pm, Legislative Building. Hosted by Regina and District Labour Council. Free food and entertainment. Everyone is welcome.
  • Spend part of Labour Day listening to some of the best union songs ever written: ●Talking Union, Almanac Singers ●Bread and Roses, Joan Baez ●There is Power in a Union, Billy Bragg ●The Rebel Girl, Hazel Dickens ●Take ‘Em Down, Dropkick Murphys ●Part of the Union, Strawbs ●Which Side Are You On? Natalie Merchant ●Joe Hill, Paul Robeson ●Solidarity Forever, Utah Phillips ●Union Burying Ground, Woody Guthrie ●Working Man, Rita McNeil

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PUBLIC TRANSIT IS THE SOLUTION

Posted by strattof on August 22, 2019

Public transit is the solution to many of Regina’s problems. For example:

  • TRAFFIC CONGESTION ON 11th AVENUE: A Regina Transit bus holds 40 passengers. A regular bus load of passengers takes up far less road space than 40 cars.
  • DOWNTOWN PARKING: The ever-growing number of parking lots gives downtown Regina a desolate and abandoned look. Still people have a hard time finding parking. More people using transit is the answer to this problem.
  • TEXTING WHILE DRIVING: In 2018, Regina Police Service issued 1,800 distracted driving tickets for drivers using mobile devices. The fine for distracted driving is $280. That’s enough to buy 3 monthly adult bus passes. You can text to your heart’s content on the bus with no safety (or ticket) worries.

If transit is the solution to these and other problems, why are more people not using transit?

HOW CAN REGINA GROW TRANSIT RIDERSHIP?

5 MORE REASONS TO USE PUBLIC TRANSIT

  1. TRANSIT CUTS RUSH-HOUR TRAFFIC JAMS

Even though Regina is a relatively small city, many rush-hour commutes take 30 minutes or more. More people using transit is a solution.

  1. TRANSIT IS SAFER

Transit has about a tenth of the traffic injury or death rate as car travel. Transit also makes streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

  1. TRANSIT IS RELAXING

Not only can you text while riding the bus. You can also read or even snooze a little with no safety worries.

  1. TRANSIT SAVES YOU MONEY

Downtown parking costs on average $200 per month. A 30-day adult bus pass is just $88. You also save on gas. 

  1. TRANSIT HAS PUBLIC HEALTH BENEFITS

According to experts, the main reason for the increase in asthma rates worldwide, for both children and adults, is air pollution and, more explicitly, exposure to nitrogen dioxide, which comes mainly from vehicle exhaust. To experience the full effect of air pollution in Regina, try standing on a busy Regina street during rush hour.

TRANSIT & GLOBAL WARMING

Public transit not only provides solutions to local problems. It is also part of the answer to a major international problem: global warming. In 2018, the United Nations issued this grim warming: We have just 12 years left before climate disaster.

FACTS

  • Transit cuts carbon emissions.
  • One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road, reducing emissions by about 15,000 tonnes a year.

GROWING RIDERSHIP

The good news is that transit use in Regina is, in fact, growing. In 2018, there were nearly 6.9 million rides, representing a 7% increase in ridership since 2016.

The challenge is to further grow transit ridership. Here are two tried and true ways—just to get us started:

MORE FREQUENT SERVICE

Research shows that when buses come every 15 minutes lots more people start taking the bus. Currently, most Regina Transit routes run at 30 minute intervals during the day and early evening hours and at 60 minute intervals after 8:45 pm.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. First bus – 8:45pm: 15 minute intervals.
  2. 8:45 pm – last bus: 30 minute intervals.

FREE TRANSIT

Research shows that free transit is one of the most effective strategies to get people out of their cars and onto public transit. Also, transit is prohibitively expensive for many people who don’t own a private vehicle.

  • A number of European cities already offer free transit.
  • In 2019, Victoria began to offer free service to anyone under the age of 18
  • Regina already offers free transit on New Year’s Eve and to and from Rider Games.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Make transit free for people in the following categories: Social Assistance recipients, Youth, and Senior.
  2. Embark on a free transit plan to completely eliminate fares in stages over a five year period.

PAYING FOR BETTER TRANSIT

Regina Transit is subsidized by municipal taxes. If free transit becomes a reality, that subsidy will increase.

But private vehicles are also subsidized. It is, after all, Regina tax- payers who foot the bill for road infrastructure and maintenance.

Private vehicles also have many hidden costs, including air pollution, climate change, accidents, and congestion.

We cannot afford to keep subsidizing private vehicles.

TAKE ACTION FOR BETTER PUBLIC TRANSIT

IMPROVED TRANSIT SERVICE

Let Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor know you want improved transit service. For a start, that would mean more frequent service and the elimination of fares over the next 5 years.

Other improvements would include earlier and later service and better Sunday and holiday service.

GET ON THE BUS

Also let the Mayor and your Councillor know you want them to take up the transit challenge issued by the Regina Transit union: Rely on transit for a week and experience the joys and woes of Regina Transit.

Mayor Michael Fougere: 777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young: 539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins: 789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Andrew Stevens: 570-1402 or astevens@regina.ca

Ward 4:  Lori Bresciani: 570-1995 or lbrescia@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura: 536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Joel Murray: 519-2232 or j.murray@regina.ca

Ward 7: Sharron Bryce: 949-5025 or sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell: 545-7300 or modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9: Jason Mancinelli: 519-0078 or jmancine@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel: 537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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JUSTICE FOR COLTEN BOUSHIE

Posted by strattof on August 8, 2019

Tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of the shooting death of Colten Boushie. On August 9, 2016, Boushie, a 22 year-old member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, died from a gunshot to his head after the vehicle in which he was travelling pulled into a farmyard near Biggar. Gerald Stanley, a 56-year-old white farmer, fatally shot Boushie, at point-blank range, in the back of the head.

On February 9 2018, an all-white jury found Stanley not guilty in the shooting death of Boushie—a verdict that highlighted the systemic racism in the Canadian justice system. Since that date, Boushie’s family have been seeking justice.

Has anything changed in the 18 months since Stanley’s acquittal? Not much—at least not for the better.

Those of us who are settler Canadians must take responsibility for the failure of our justice system and stand with Indigenous Peoples in their calls for justice.

THERE WILL BE NO RECONCILIATION UNTIL THERE IS JUSTICE!

INJUSTICE IN SASKATCHEWAN

The tragic death of Colten Boushie continues to shine a light on racism and injustice in our society. For example:

AN ALL WHITE JURY

It was an all-white jury that found Gerald Stanley not guilty. How did this happen? Indigenous Peoples make up over 25% of the population of the Battlefords where the trial was held.

The answer is peremptory challenges. During jury selection, lawyers can dismiss potential jurors without giving any reason. In the case of the Stanley trial, Stanley’s lawyers dismissed all visibly Indigenous potential jurors.

The Canadian government is in the process of abolishing peremptory challenges. It is the only positive step that has been taken toward justice since Stanley was found not guilty. England, the birthplace of peremptory challenges, abolished them in 1988.

CANADIAN COLONIALISM 1.0

This is what Canadian colonialism looks like.

  • When, on August 9, 2016, the RCMP went to Red Pheasant Cree Nation to inform Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, of her son’s death, officers behaved as if Boushie’s family members were criminals. RCMP vehicles surrounded the home. Officers searched the home, some with their guns drawn. An officer ordered a grieving Baptiste to “get it together” and asked her if she had been drinking.
  • In 2017, the RCMP, in an internal investigation, cleared itself of any wrong-doing when its officers visited the home of Debbie Baptiste the day her son was killed.
  • The arrest of Gerald Stanley ignited a firestorm of racism against Indigenous Peoples, much of it promoting even more violence against them. The RCMP laid no hate speech charges against those who posted hate-speech online.

JUSTIFYING THE VIOLENCE

Canadian colonial society has always found ways to justify violence against Indigenous Peoples. Here are a couple of the tried and true strategies used in relation to the killing of Colten Boushie.

PROMOTING RACISM

  • The RCMP’s first media release linked the news of Boushie’s death to a recent surge in thefts in the area—providing, as FISN Chief Bobby Cameron put it, “just enough prejudicial information for the average reader to draw their own conclusions that the shooting was somehow justified.”
  • In covering of the case, the Canadian media all too often reproduced the usual stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples, thus helping to justify the not guilty verdict. 

PLAYING VICTIM

The response of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) to the killing of Colten Boushie was to make it look like rural landowners were the real victims. The provincial government followed suit.

  • In March 2017, SARM voted 93% in favour of lobbying the federal government for more relaxed self-defence laws.
  • In January 2019, the provincial government purchased 147 carbine rifles to arm rural conservation officers.
  • In May 2019, the provincial government passed new trespassing laws “to reduce rural crime,” thus sending a signal that vigilante justice against Indigenous Peoples has government approval.

Ever since Canada’s inception, the Canadian justice system has been deployed to protect the use of land for European settlement.

WHOSE LAND IS IT ANYWAY?

According to white settler mythology, hardy pioneers made unoccupied and unused land productive. In fact:

  • Indigenous Peoples had been occupying the land for 1000s of years and making very Oproductive use of it.
  • The Canadian government signed treaties with First Nations, under which the land was to be shared. First Nations have honoured the treaties. The Canadian government has not.

LEARN MORE ABOUT  CANADIAN RACISM & COLONIALISM

FILMS

NÎPAWISTAMÂSOWIN: WE WILL STAND UP–A DOCUMENTARY FILM ABOUT COLTEN BOUSHIE

WHEN: WEDNESDAY AUGUST 14, 7 pm

WHERE: CINEPLEX CINEMAS, NORMANVIEW

The film looks at the racism in the Canadian justice system that came to light through the trial of Gerald Stanley and the Boushie family’s pursuit of justice. Everyone in Canada needs to see it.

JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN

WHEN: WEDNESDAY AUGUST 14, 7 pm

WHERE: CINEPLEX CINEMAS, NORMANVIEW

A 20 minute documentary about Camp Justice For Our Stolen Children, which stood on the Legislative grounds from February to September 2018: This film will be screened in conjunction with six other short films as part of an “Indigenous Showcase” program.

All the films are part of the Regina International Film Festival. To see the full program, go to: http://riffa.ca/screening-schedule.html

BOOKS (available at Regina Public Library)

  • The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline
  • Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual For Decolonization, with essays by Pam Palmater and Arthur Manuel (online)
  • Children of the Broken Treaty, by Charlie Angus
  • Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers, by Mark Anderson and Carmen Robertson

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CONFRONTING RACISM

Posted by strattof on July 26, 2019

Many Canadians believe that racism is not a part of Canadian society. We may be feeling particularly smug in the wake of Donald Trump’s racist “Go back where you came from” tweet, attacking four Congresswomen of colour.

According to Prime Minister Trudeau, “That’s not how we do things in Canada.” Perhaps this is his aspirational goal. Regrettably racism is alive and well in Canada.

  • Canada was founded on the racist idea of white supremacy, which provided the justification for European occupation of Indigenous Peoples land.
  • Today white supremacy continues its reign. For example: ●First Nations reserves occupy only 0.2% of the Canadian land mass. 99.8% of Canada is reserved for settler Canadians. ●Through the Indian Act, first passed in 1876, the Canadian state continues to claim the right to exercise 100% control over every aspect of the lives of Indigenous Peoples.
  • “Go back where you came from” is an anti-immigrant sentiment heard over the decades in Canada, as well as today. Its core message is “Canada belongs to white people.”

A first step in confronting racism is to understand what it is and how it operates. This will allow us to recognize its existence in our society. Only then can we take the next step: standing up against racism both as individuals and as a society.

“GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM”

“Go back where you came from” has a variety of meanings, including “You are not allowed here.” This taunt has long and deeply entrenched roots in Canadian society and has had a powerful influence on immigration and refugee policy.

1914: THE KOMAGATA MARU

When the Komagata Maru, a ship carrying 376 Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim passengers, arrived in Vancouver harbour, Canadian authorities did not permit it to dock. Nor did they allow food and water to be provided for passengers. Eventually the ship was forced to return to India where 19 of the passengers were shot and killed by British India police. 

1923: THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT

Passed by the Canadian government, this act completely banned Chinese immigration to Canada. It remained in force until 1947.

1939: THE ST. LOUIS

When the St. Louis arrived in Halifax harbour, Canadian officials refused to allow any of its 739 German Jewish refugee passengers to land, forcing the ship to return to Europe where a third of its passengers ended up being murdered in the Nazi death camps.

2010: TAMIL ASYLUM SEEKERS

When the Sun Sea arrived off the BC coast, government authorities labelled the passengers—492 Sri Lankan men, women, and children—“terrorists” and detained them in a provincial prison for a prolonged period. Ultimately, a majority of the passengers were found to be in legitimate need of Canada’s protection.

2019: SAFE THIRD COUNTRY AGREEMENT

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, signed by Canada and the US in 2004, if a person makes a refugee claim at a Canadian port of entry on the US-Canada border, they will be sent back to the US. If, however, they enter Canada at unofficial crossings, they can make a claim.

The Trudeau government is in the process of closing this “loophole,” thus stripping away the legal rights of refugees to have their claims heard.

1867 – 2019: GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM Why isn’t this taunt ever directed at white Canadians?

RACISM IN SASKATCHEWAN

GENOCIDAL POLICIES

Saskatchewan was founded on genocidal policies against Indigenous Peoples:

  • John A. Macdonald’s policy, implemented in 1878, of the deliberate starvation of Indigenous Peoples living across the plains, including where Regina now stands, until they moved onto the tiny reserves the government assigned to them.
  • The residential school system, which functioned from 1880 to 1996, when the last residential school in Canada, the Gordon Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, closed.

These genocidal policies continue today. For example:

  • The over-apprehension of Indigenous children in the child welfare system: 85% of the children in state care in Saskatchewan are Indigenous.
  • The failure of provincial police services to provide protection for Indigenous women.

THE KU KLUX KLAN

In the 1920s, the KKK flourished in Saskatchewan, with a membership of 25,000. Asserting white Anglo-Saxon Protestant supremacy, it targeted Catholics and Jews and opposed immigration to the province from anywhere but Britain.

The KKK was so mainstream in Saskatchewan that in Regina it held its meetings in City Hall.

THE YELLOW VEST MOVEMENT

In its promotion of racist, anti-immigrant views, Saskatchewan’s yellow vest movement is the 21st century equivalent of the KKK. It too wants to “Keep Saskatchewan White,” in its case by limiting immigration to people of European ancestry.

Like the KKK too, the yellow vesters have acquired mainstream legitimacy, with political leaders—Premier Scott Moe and federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer—speaking at rallies and thus giving the yellow vesters licence to carry on with their racism.

TAKE ACTION: CONFRONT RACISM

  1. Call out racist statements, along with all other forms of hate speech, whenever you encounter them.
  2. Call on all political leaders to stand up against hate and to distance themselves from, as well as condemn, any groups or individuals that engage in anti-immigration rhetoric or hate speech of any kind.
  3. Learn more about racism and white supremacy in Canada. Add the following to your summer reading list (available at Regina Public Library or online).
  • Keeping Canada British: The Ku Klux Klan in 1920s Saskatchewan, by James Pitsula
  • The Reconciliation Manifesto, by Arthur Manuel
  • Undoing Border Imperialism, by Harsha Walia
  • A Dangerous Crossing, by Ausma Zehanat Khan
  • National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: A Legal Analysis of Genocide

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HOMELESS IN REGINA

Posted by strattof on July 23, 2019

The long-awaited plan to end homelessness in Regina has finally been released. Titled Everyone is Home: A 5-Year Plan to End Chronic and Episodic Homelessness in Regina, the plan reveals “the depth of homelessness in Regina.”

The figures are shocking—much worse than we had been led to believe.2,200 people were homeless in Regina in 2018.

Imagine the daily, even hourly, trials these 2,200 people faced:

  • Where am I going to sleep tonight?
  • Where can I find some food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
  • Where can I find a public washroom? 

The plan also reveals the cost of ending homelessness in Regina—which turns out to be quite modest: an investment of $63 million over five years in a Housing First program.

Where will the money come from? According to the plan, about $25 million will come from the federal government and $38 million from the provincial government. The problem is that these contributions “have not yet been confirmed.”

NO ONE SHOULD BE HOMELESS IN REGINA!

HOMELESS IN REGINA: 8 KEY FACTS FROM THE PLAN  

  1. Regina has more homeless people per capita than most other Canadian cities. Over the course of a year, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Regina is conservatively estimated at about 2,000.
  2. While Indigenous Peoples only make up 9% of Regina’s population, they accounted for 80% of the homeless people in the 2018 homelessness count. In other words, Indigenous Peoples are grossly over-represented in Regina’s homeless population—a reflection of the systemic racism in our country, province, and city.
  3. Women made up 51% of Regina’s homeless people in the 2018 count. More than 20% of the women had dependent children. 33% reported spousal abuse as their reason for being homeless. The rate of violence against women in Saskatchewan is double the national average.
  4. More than 25% of the homeless people in the 2018 count were youth. Most of the homeless people in the count began experiencing homelessness as youth.
  5. The main cause of homelessness in Regina is economic: the inability to find housing that is affordable. The standard definition of affordable housing is housing that costs residents 30% or less of their income.
  6. Of Regina households with a total income below $30,000, over 50% are spending more than half of their income on housing.
  7. Worse still, 54% of renter households spend more than half of their income on rent.
  8. 9% of renter households in Regina are in what is termed extreme core housing need, which is defined as living in poverty with more than 50% of income going to housing.

ENDING HOMELESSNESS

THE PROBLEM

The problem is, of course, the money—the $63 million needed to end homelessness in Regina. Neither the federal nor the provincial government has pledged support.

Nor is it likely either will do so without a lot of additional pressure.

  • The $25 million in federal funding is meant to come from the Liberal government’s National Housing Strategy, which the parliamentary budget officer recently announced is not adequately funded.
  • For over a decade, the provincial government has been implementing austerity measures.

THE PARADOX

Mayor Fougere is the force behind the plan to end homelessness. ●In the 2016 municipal election, he ran on a platform to end homelessness. ●In 2017, he brought the motion before City Council that launched the plan.

Paradoxically, Mayor Fougere refuses to put any city money into ending homelessness in Regina. According to the Mayor, “affordable housing is not a municipal responsibility.”

THE STADIUM

There is always money for sports facilities. The new Mosaic Stadium cost $278 million of our tax dollars to build. In contrast, the cost of ending homelessness in Regina is a mere $63 million.

In 2012, when the new stadium was in the planning stages, city officials promised that Taylor Field, where the old stadium stood, would be redeveloped to include 700 new affordable housing units. Now is the time to keep that promise. How about if the city allocated $4 million annually to this project for the next five years.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Ending homelessness in Regina would actually reduce costs for all levels of government. Indeed, according to the plan, the investment would return 50 cents for every dollar invested, reducing the cost of the plan from $63 million to $37 million.

Where will the savings come from? From decreases in demand for other public services, including health care, social support, policing, and corrections.

TAKE ACTION TO END HOMELESSNESS

We need to end homelessness in Regina. As Mayor Fougere put it: “With all the prosperity we have in this city and this province, with all the wealth and opportunity, we should not be facing this issue.”

The City of Regina cannot on its own solve Regina’s homelessness crisis. That will require all three levels of government. But the City can at least do its part and provide a model.

CONTACT MAYOR FOUGERE

Let Mayor Fougere know

  • You want the City to contribute to the cost of ending homeless-ness in Regina—say $4 million annually for the next 5 years.
  • You want the City to keep its promise to redevelop Taylor Field to include 700 new affordable housing units.
  • You do not want the plan to end homelessness to end up gathering dust on a shelf, along with all the previous plans.

 777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

CONTACT FEDERAL HOUSING MINISTER JEAN-YVES DUCLOS

Let Minister Duclos know you want the federal government to provide financial support for Regina’s plan to end homelessness:

613-992-8865 or Jean-Yves.Duclos@parl.gc.ca

CONTACT SASKATCHEWAN MINISTER OF SOCIAL SERVICES PAUL MERRIMAN

Let Minister Merriman know you want the provincial government to provide financial support for Regina’s plan to end homelessness.

306-787-3661or ss.minister@gov.sk.ca

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