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Archive for November, 2012

NATIONAL HOUSING DAY

Posted by strattof on November 23, 2012

There is a housing crisis in Regina:

  • The apartment vacancy rate is 0.6%, meaning almost no available rental accommodation.
  • Many city residents remain homeless. In 2010, over 3,400 people used one or more of the city’s shelter services.  Many others double bunk, couch surf, or live in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions.  Some even live in cars or garages.

NATIONAL DAY OF HOUSING ACTION

Red Tents are a symbol of Canada’s housing crisis and demonstrate the growing support for a national housing strategy.  Such a strategy could end homelessness and ensure secure, adequate and affordable housing for all people living in Canada.

Bill C400, introduced to the House of Commons by Marie-Claude Morin, MP for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, seeks to revive the National Housing Strategy.  Sign the petition to support Bill C400, an Act to ensure secure, adequate and affordable housing for Canadians.

HOUSING IN REGINA: 10 KEY FACTS

1.      According to one estimate, nearly 7,000 people in Regina are close to, or have recently experienced, homelessness.

2.      Between 2008 and 2010, homeless shelter use in Regina rose by 44.5%.

3.      The average resale price of residential homes in Regina increased from $132,000 in 2006 to $300,000 in 2012, a 127% increase.

4.      Between 2006 and 2011, the number of apartments in Regina decreased by over 500, as apartments were converted to condominiums or torn down. Over the same period, Regina’s population increased by 14,000 people; many of these are newcomers who need rental housing.

5.      Regina’s apartment vacancy rate has remained at or below 1% since 2008. A 3% vacancy rate is considered normal. In April 2012, Regina had the lowest apartment vacancy rate in Canada, at 0.6%.  This translates into only 65 vacant apartments in the city.

6.      Since 2006, average rents in Regina have increased by over 8% a year.  From 2006 to 2011, average rents in Regina went up 52%.

7.      The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment was $817 in Regina in April 2012.  An individual earning the $9.50 minimum wage would need to devote 50% of before-tax income to rent (assuming a 40-hour work week for 52 weeks). “Affordable Housing” means 30% or less of before-tax income for housing.

8.      For a two-bedroom Regina apartment, average monthly rent increased from $619 in 2006 to $970 this year, with a rate of $1010 expected for next year.  

9.      20% of Regina households live in ‘core housing need,’ meaning they can’t find a home that costs less than 30% of their household income, that has enough room for its occupants, or that doesn’t need major repairs.

10.  A recent Salvation Army survey reported that one in five Saskatchewan adults has come close to or has actually experienced homelessness at some time in his/her life.

SOLVING THE HOUSING CRISIS

The biggest causes of homelessness are

1. Financial: loss of a job, rent increases, a low or fixed income;

2. Lack of affordable housing.

Relying on the private sector to solve the housing crisis will only send more people into the cold.  If it were in the interest of the private sector to provide affordable housing, it would already have done so and there would be no housing crisis.

To solve the housing crisis we need leadership from and intervention in the housing market by all levels of government.  Here are some of the things each level of government can do:

CITY COUNCIL can

  • Require developers to include affordable housing in their plans or to pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
  • Deny applications for demolition permits when the apartment vacancy rate is under 3%.
  • Identify empty buildings that can be converted into affordable housing units and fund their renovation.
  • Purchase the land the province is selling in the city’s northwest and develop it, using the proceeds to build affordable housing.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT can

  • Stop the sale of Housing Authority rental properties and build more affordable rental accommodation.
  • Allocate 3% of all natural resource royalties to affordable housing.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

 THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can

  • Develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

BOOM FOR WHOM?

Our city is experiencing unprecedented economic expansion. But this has not delivered good times for all. We could house everyone if we had the will to do so.

What kind of city do we want to live in?

Affordable housing – more than a roof over your head

 “Affordable housing addresses a basic need in communities across Canada — the need for safe, stable and suitable places for families and individuals to live. But affordable housing does more than provide a roof over your head — it makes our communities better places to live, work and grow.” –  Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation

TAKE ACTION

  • In City Council meetings, Councillors and the Mayor have said that creating affordable housing is to be a priority for the City.  Mayor Fougere admits that “what we’re doing isn’t working” and is calling for a housing summit.  Let’s put the pressure on our elected Councillors and Mayor to schedule the housing summit soon and take some real and immediate action to solve our housing crisis.
  • Let Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor know your concerns about affordable housing and homelessness.   Go to the City of Regina homepage (www.regina.ca) and click on “contact” (upper right-hand corner).
  • Let’s make 2013 a year that affordable housing is created in Regina.

NATIONAL HOUSING DAY November 22 2012

Participating groups include: Regina Anti-Poverty Network, University of Regina Social Work Students Society, Red Tent Campaign, Queen City Tenants Association, and Making Peace Vigil. 

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STOP U OF R DEPORTATIONS

Posted by strattof on November 17, 2012

F A C T   S H E E T

  • Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi are University of Regina students from Nigeria. They are currently subject to Canada-wide warrants for their deportation. 
  • In the summer of 2011, they made an honest mistake. Unknowingly overstepping the limits of their student visas, they worked off campus at Walmart for two weeks.
  • On June 19th 2012, they took sanctuary in a Regina church to avoid deportation. They have been living in the church for the past 150 days.    
  • Walmart also broke the law when it employed the two students. However, there are no indications that Walmart is going to be penalized.
  • Victoria and Ihuoma were properly registered U of R students from 2009 – 2012, up to the point of their deportation order. Both are in their 3rd year of study and hence nearing the completion of their courses.
  • Border security officers have the option of imposing a fine on students who violate the terms of a student visa by working off campus. They can also just give a warning.  

T A K E   A C T I O N

Deportation is a very harsh punishment for a minor infraction. It is not consistent with our democratic values and traditions.

  • Contact Minister Kenney and Minister Toews and ask them to intervene in the deportation case against Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi.   Jason Kenney: 613-992-2235 or jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca     Vic Toews: 613-992-3128 or vic.toews@parl.gc.ca
  • Tweet your own #honestmistake @KenneyJason and @ToewsVic and tell them to #stopURdeportations. 
  • Phone the Walmart in Regina where the two students worked and ask its management to come out in support of Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi: 584-0061.
  • Send a message to Walmart’s Canadian head office: Go to http://www.walmart.ca/en; scroll down to the bottom right hand corner and click on “Contact Us”; select the first option “Walmart.ca online.”

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TO REMEMBER IS TO WORK FOR PEACE: REMEMBRANCE DAY 2012

Posted by strattof on November 9, 2012

AFGHANISTAN: REMEMBERING THOSE KILLED  20012012

CANADIANS: 158

SOLDIERS FROM OTHER NATO NATIONS: 2866

AFGHAN SOLDIERS: Untold 1000s

AFGHAN CIVILIANS: Untold 10s of 1000s

REMEMBER FOR PEACE

WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE–Jimi Hendrix

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

We used to wonder where war lives, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.–Albert Camus

Peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth and the larger whole of which we are a part.–The Earth Charter

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.–Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

WHITE POPPIES & RED PEACE BUTTONS

In place of the traditional red poppy, some of us are wearing a white poppy or a red Mennonite peace button. Our reason is as follows:

The red poppy has been the emblem of Remembrance Day in Canada since 1921. In the beginning, Remembrance Day ceremonies were an occasion to mourn the dead, renounce war, and pledge to work for peace.

In recent years, however, Remembrance Day events have become celebrations of militaristic values and opportunities to build support for war and massive military spending.

Both the white poppy and the red peace button are symbols of peace without violence. As is written on the red peace button, “To Remember Is To Work For Peace.”

If you would like a white poppy or a red peace 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.ppu.org.uk

Red Peace buttons can be purchased at Ten Thousand Villages, 544 University Park Drive, 347-5766.

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MILITARIZED NATION

Posted by strattof on November 1, 2012

What do Rider games have to do with the Canadian military? Not much, we hope. Why, then, are opening ceremonies at Rider games so frequently devoted to glorifying the military?

●MILITARY FLAG ESCORTS ●MEMBERS OF THE LEGION MARCHING ON THE FIELD ●IMAGES ON THE BIG SCREEN OF THE CANADIAN MILITARY IN ACTION ●SNOWBIRD FLYPASTS

This blending of sports and the military has the effect of making war acceptable. It also promotes our government’s war-making agenda.

But what about those fans who know war is mad destruction, a calamity for all touched by it? The promotion of the military at Rider games makes us very uncomfortable. Are we still welcome at Mosaic Stadium, we wonder?   

We will not be intimidated. We will keep cheering for the Riders and speaking out against war. As our t-shirts say, we are

R I D E R   F A N S   F O R   P E A C E !

PEACEABLE KINGDOM

Canada’s 14th Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, was awarded the Noble Peace in 1957 for helping to resolve the Suez Crisis by proposing the first United Nations peacekeeping force.  

Twice in recent history Canada has resisted pressure from the United States, its closest ally, to enter into war: ●Canada did not fight in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). ●Canada also refused to join the US in the second war against Iraq (2003-2011).

Instead, Canadian foreign policy emphasized peacekeeping. Indeed, Canada has participated in the majority of UN peacekeeping missions, including:

►1956–1967: Egypt

►1960–1964: Congo

►1964–present: Cyprus

►1978–present: Lebanon

►1989–1991: Angola

►1992–1995: Somalia

►1993–1996: Rwanda

►1995–2002: Bosnia and Herzegovina

But can we really say Canada was a peaceable kingdom over the period? 

  • We did participate in the first war against Iraq (1990–1991).
  • More recently, we engaged in military operations in Libya (2011).
  • Even now we have troops in Afghanistan (2001–2014).

TERM PEACEKEEPING FORCES AN OXYMORON

True peacekeepers would not be armed military personnel. Rather they would be unarmed civilians who have volunteered to risk their lives trying to stop opposing forces from using violence on one another. You cannot make peace with a gun.

Still, until recently, Canadians saw ourselves as peace-making people, an image that helped us to promote peace at home and abroad.

WARRIOR NATION

Now peace-making is being replaced by war-fighting as a key element in Canadian national identity. Since the early 2000s, our leaders have been promoting the use of force and violence as the way of advancing Canadian national interests.

Last month marked the 11th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. The current deadline for the withdrawal of all Canadian and NATO forces is 2014. Afghanistan is already the longest war Canada has ever engaged in – longer than World Wars I and II put together.

  • Last year, Canada was part of a coalition of western forces that, for seven months, bombed Libya.
  • Now, our government is preparing the ground for Canada’s involvement in a war against Iran. 
  • In the meantime, we are spending more and more money on our military forces. In 2011, our military spending was 18% higher than it was in 1952-53, the peak spending year of the Cold War. Currently, Canada is the 13th largest military spender in the world.

REWRITING CANADIAN HISTORY

In a bid to rebrand Canada as a warrior nation, the Harper government is rewriting Canadian history. Now it’s mainly about wars and heroic warriors. Ignoring all the horrors of war, this version of Canadian history, memorializes war as a glorious enterprise.      

  • In 2009, the Harper government put out a new version of the citizenship guidebook, Discover Canada. Unlike earlier versions, this one highlights military events and figures.
  • This past summer, the Harper government spent $30 million celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The government also has plans to build a monument on Parliament Hill to the War of 1812.

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

YOU ARE INVITED TO A PUBLIC LECTURE

BY JAMIE SWIFT, CO-AUTHOR OF

WARRIOR NATION: REBRANDING CANADA IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 21 2012

 7:30 – 9 pm

UNIVERSITY OF REGINA

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION AUDITORIUM (RIC 119)

EVERYONE IS WELCOME

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