Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for January, 2011

WHAT ONE DOME WILL GET US

Posted by strattof on January 27, 2011

Despite setbacks, the Government of Saskatchewan still wants to spend $431 million of our tax dollars on a domed stadium. It expects all levels of government–federal, provincial, and municipal–to contribute to the cost.

Here’s what else we can get for $431 million. (Thanks to Prairie Dog and the Regina Leader-Post from which many of the figures are taken.) 

HOUSING: 1 domed stadium = 1,874 affordable housing units.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: 1 domed stadium = regulated childcare spaces for 10,000 children for 4 years.

SCHOOLS: 1 domed stadium = 28.7 elementary schools or 4.8 years worth of teacher salaries.

LIBRARIES: 1 domed stadium = 24.6 years of Regina Public Library operations.

HEALTH CARE: 1 domed stadium = 2.15 children’s hospitals.

PUBLIC TRANSIT: 1 domed stadium = 100 brand new city buses, plus their drivers’ salaries for their entire careers.

CITY DEBT: 1 domed stadium = the City of Regina’s current debt X 13.

TAKE ACTION

The Saskatchewan government will make its decision about the domed stadium by the end of February.

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HOMELESS IN REGINA

Posted by strattof on January 20, 2011

With an apartment vacancy rate that has been less than 1% for several years, rental accommodation is very difficult to find in Regina.  

Regina is no longer a cheap place to live. Housing prices have risen rapidly and Regina rents have increased by over 40% in the last four years.  It’s difficult to find a two-bedroom apartment for under $1,000 a month.  

It’s often families with young children, single mothers, and those trying to get a foothold in the job market who find themselves without a home.  

In Regina, few homeless people live on the streets or in parks. Our homeless are couch surfing, doubling up, living in overcrowded conditions, squatting in abandoned buildings, and, in extreme cases, living in tents, garages, and cars. 

SHELTERS

Regina has at least 19 shelters or transitional housing locations. In 2009, an average of 267 people each night stayed in these. Over the whole year, 3,618 individuals stayed in homeless shelters or transitional housing in Regina, a number that includes at least 144 families. This winter these shelters have been stretched beyond capacity.  

“When you’re homeless and unemployed, and you have no money, it could be a full-time job getting to these places, just knowing where your next meal’s coming from.” –A formerly homeless individual

UNAFFORDABLE HOUSING

In 2006 in Regina, 15,600 households in Regina spent 30% or more of their income on shelter – a level that indicates unaffordability. That’s 41% of tenant households. Rents have increased a lot since 2006 so there are even more households that cannot afford housing now. A single person working full-time at minimum wage would spend three-quarters of their monthly income on rent and food alone.

HOMELESS YOUTH

Homeless youth are living in shelters or bunking with friends– many are fleeing abusive situations. In 2009, at least 167 youth under the age of 18 stayed at shelters. 82 of these were under the age of 11.

HOMELESSNESS AND WOMEN

Men may experience less trouble than women when trying to access homeless shelters. There are a limited number spaces for women who are not victims of domestic violence. While there are over 130 spaces for men there are just over 80 spaces for women, a fraction of which are available for women with children. These women’s shelters are often full to capacity, meaning that on many nights, there are severely limited options for women in crisis situations.

HELP END HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

Community Coffee House

Conversations on Housing and Homeless: Solutions–January 26, 1-5 pm, German Club, 1727 St. John St. Sponsored by the Urban Aboriginal Strategy. Plan to attend. For more information email corasellers@hotmail.com

Toque Tuesday–February 8

Rainbow Youth Centre’s Youth Express Team is part of Raising the Roof’s National “Toque Tuesday” Campaign. Toques are available for $10 from Rainbow Youth Centre (757-9743). All funds raised in Regina support homeless youth in Regina and:

“Help us not only find homes for youth 16-25, but once we find them a home, through various programs, life skills and mentoring programs, we help them to retain and maintain their homes.–Dan Lindsay of Rainbow Youth Centre.

Bill C-304

Bill C-304 is an Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible, and affordable housing for Canadians. A private member’s bill, it was introduced into the House of Commons in 2009 by Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East. To find out more about Bill C-304, go to: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/ Publication.aspx?DocId=3660878&Language=e&Mode=1

Take action to end homelessness by asking your Member of Parliament to support Bill C-304The House will soon vote on the Bill.

Common Cause

Common Cause is a letter-writing campaign. Initiated by the Making Peace Vigil, it consists of a loose coalition of local groups and organizations. Individuals can also participate. Its initial goal is to provoke City Hall into taking action on housing and homelessness.

City Hall cannot solve all of Regina’s housing problems. For that to happen, the provincial and federal governments would have to be involved. There are, however, certain measures that come under the City’s jurisdiction, which, if City Hall chose to act on them, would go some way to address the current housing crisis.

City Council can pass rent control laws.

  • City Council can pass landlord licensing laws.
  • City Council can develop affordable housing units that would be managed by the Regina Housing Authority.
  • City Hall can require developers to include affordable housing in their plans or to pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
  • City of Regina by-laws give City Council the power to deny applications for condo conversions when apartment vacancy rate is under 3%. Even though the vacancy rate was less than 1% in 2008 and 2009, Council approved 24 of 27 condo conversion applications.

Join the Common Cause campaign to end homelessness in Regina. For more information, contact Florence Stratton: florence.stratton@uregina.ca or 522-2310.

“As a community, we need to work together to really meet the needs of the people, not to put bandaids on them all the time.”–Margaret Aken, CEO of All Nations Hope Aids Network.

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COUNTING THE COSTS: CANADA’S LONGEST WAR

Posted by strattof on January 13, 2011

At nine years and counting, Afghanistan is already the longest war Canadians have every engaged in. Now the war in Afghanistan has once again been extended, this time until 2014. Even that date is not a firm deadline. When will it end? The costs of this war are already too high:

HUMAN COSTS

  • 154 Canadian soldiers have already been killed in Afghanistan. 2,949 Canadian Forces members and veterans are currently being paid disability benefits for wounds and injuries received in Afghanistan.
  • According to a United Nations report, civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 20% in the first 10 months of 2010. Over that period, 2,412 Afghan civilians were killed in conflict-related incidents and 3,803 were injured. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said:  “Civilians continue to bear the brunt of intensified armed conflict.”

 DOLLAR COSTS

  • By the end of 2011, Canada will have spent $18.1 billion on the war in Afghanistan.
  • This is money that could have been spent on health care, education, and affordable housing.

OPPORTUNITY COSTS

  • What $18.1 billion will get you:
  1.  4 years worth of healthcare for every Saskatchewan resident, or
  2. 4 years worth of tuition for every Canadian university undergraduate, or
  3. 2.7 million affordable housing units–more than enough to house Canada’s 300,000 homeless people, as well as to provide affordable housing to the 1.5 million Canadian households spending more than one third of their income on rent, putting them at significant risk of losing their housing.
  • What could have been done with the lives lost in Afghanistan?

FUTURE COSTS

  • It is estimated that another three years of war will cost Canadians a total of $1.5 billion. This is money that can still be spent on health care, education, and affordable housing. It might even be used to pay down the debt.
  • How many more lives will be lost in Afghanistan?

WHEN WILL IT END?

  • When we start listening to what Afghan people are saying. The Canadian government claims we are fighting for democracy in Afghanistan. Why, then, are we not listening to the Afghan people, 83% of whom, according to a recent poll, support reconciliation with the Taliban?
  • When we take action. Email your MP and tell him Canada should work for peace, instead of preparing for further decades of endless and fruitless war:

Ray Boughen, Palliser: boughr@parl.gc.ca           

Tom Lukiwski, Regina-Lumsden: lukiwt@parl.gc.ca

Ralph Goodale, Wascana: Goodale.R@parl.gc.ca          

Andrew Scheer, Regina Qu’Appelle: scheea@parl.gc.ca

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10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR CANADA AND CANADIANS

Posted by strattof on January 2, 2011

To make the world a better place for all of us who dwell here

WHAT GOVERNMENTS CAN DO

#1    Bring our troops home from Afghanistan now.

At nine years and counting, Afghanistan is the longest war Canadians have ever engaged in. 154 Canadian soldiers have already died. 2,949 Canadian Afghan war veterans are currently receiving disability benefits. So far, the war in Afghanistan has cost the Canadian taxpayer $22 billion.

# 2   Provide proper funding for First Nations education.

For First Nations, education is a Treaty right. Under Treaty 4, which covers most of southern Saskatchewan, First Nations were promised a school on each reserve. Instead, the government implemented the genocidal residential school system. Today, children who attend schools on reserves receive 30% less funding than other Canadian children. Funding per student at First Nations University is also less than at other universities.

#3    Stop building prisons.

Crime rates in Canada have been dropping since the 1990s. Why, then, has the federal government initiated “tough on crime” legislation–laws that will make more Canadians spend more time in prison? The average annual cost of incarcerating a single offender in a federal prison is $100,000. That figure does not include the estimated $9 billion it will cost to build new prisons for the growing prison population. If even half of that money was invested in education and affordable housing, all Canadians would benefit enormously.

#4    Ensure all Canadians have access to adequate housing.

The vacancy rate for rental housing in Regina continues to stay below 1%. Between 2006 and 2009, rents increased by 40%.  Those who could afford to rent a reasonable place to live can no longer do so. In 2009, 3618 individuals slept in homeless shelters in Regina.  That homelessness exists in our affluent society is scandalous.

While City Hall cannot solve all of Regina’s housing problems, it can take measures that will go some way to addressing the current housing crisis. For example, it can pass rent control and landlord licensing laws. It can also deny applications for condo conversions and require developers to include affordable housing in their plans.

#5    Set serious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and develop a plan for meeting them.

Canada has one of the world’s worst climate action records. We rank 1st among G8 nations for increasing greenhouse gas emissions. We rank 10th in the world in per capita emissions: 17.4 tonnes per person, as compared, say, to China’s 4.6 or India’s 1.2 tonnes. Vehicles are Canada’s single largest source of emissions, while tar sands development is our fastest growing source of emissions. To protect the tar sands from being adversely effected by climate change policy, Canada engaged in obstructionist tactics at the recent climate change summit in Cancun. These tactics led to Canada being dishonoured with the Fossil of the Year award. They also helped put the world on a path to catastrophic global warming.

WHAT YOU AND I CAN DO

#6    We can contact our MPs, MLAs, and City Councillors about these and other issues.

#7    We can USE LESS STUFF. In other words, we can resist massacring the earth through thoughtless and pointless consumerism.

#8    We can speak out against injustice, be it social, political, economic, or environmental.

#9    We can work for peace in small ways everyday: at home, in the neighbourhood, in the city, the province, the country, and the world.

#10 We can join with others in Canada and around the world, in organizations, political parties, and citizens’ movements, to work towards peace and justice.

THE MAKING PEACE VIGIL WISHES YOU

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 

We look forward in the hope that one day soon

PEACE WILL BREAK OUT

and

JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL

 

 

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