Halifax Anti-Poverty Initiative: life of dignity and Security


By CHARLES SPURR

(10/1/04) HALIFAX --Recent remarks from some members of the Spring Garden Road Business Association (SGRBA) attacking the poor and, in particular, the presence of the Salvation Army mobile soup kitchen on the street continues to attract a firestorm of protest. Complaints about the Salvation Army vehicle, which was handing out free food and the occasional blanket to the needy, were made recently in the business association's newsletter and on CBC Radio by Tony Joseph, owner of Gatsby's Restaurant, who complained that the soup kitchen was attracting poor people to the area. In the radio interview, Mr. Joseph was heard making derogatory comments about the poor and demanded that the soup kitchen be relocated to Gottingen Street.

Various people, including the Salvation Army, were quick to point out that there already was a Salvation Army facility on Gottingen Street and that there already were needy people on Spring Garden Road which is why the charity had sent its mobile kitchen there. The protest continued on the morning of Tuesday, February 10, sponsored by the Halifax Anti-Poverty Initiative, aiming to send a message to Mr. Joseph and the SGRBA that "derogatory and classist remarks have no place in Halifax or in the Maritimes."

About twenty supporters of the group picketed outside Gatsby's for nearly an hour before going to the offices of the SGRBA to demand that it take a stand against the comments by Mr. Joseph. They reported that the Association denied any involvement in the incident and distanced itself from Mr. Joseph's remarks.

Outside, a spokesperson of the Halifax Anti-Poverty Initiative said that they expect an apology.

"Under the capitalist system most people are at the lower end of the income spectrum," one activist remarked. Others quoted recent media reports that in Halifax alone more than 33,000 people are a pay cheque away from being on the streets. Others talked about "gentrification" or the decline in available, low-cost housing and demanded that the city council to address the worsening conditions of social life in Halifax -- the increasing homelessness, unemployment and underemployment, poverty and uncertainty and insecurity which thousands of people in the city face everyday. They demanded that more money be invested in affordable housing, healthcare, employment programs for youth and other social programs and that the City of Halifax take the lead to ensure that all the people in Halifax can live a life of dignity and security.



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