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Ontario Govt. Unveils Modest Proposal to End Homelessness

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TORONTO, ON (SP) — Yesterday, Premier Ernie Eves announced that the Ontario government is introducing new legislation to address the province’s growing homeless problem, which some say has reached epidemic proportions.

According to Premier Eves, the Modest Proposal For Ending Homelessness Act aims to completely eliminate the homeless population in Ontario by discontinuing all financial assistance, subsidized housing, and any other social programs that had previously been available to those without any other means of support.

Eves explained that the idea for this legislation came to him when he was trying to find new budget cuts to make in order to fund corresponding tax cuts. "We've cut so much from health care and education over the last eight years, there really isn't much left to cut," Eves explained. "Also, our pollsters tell us that it's not a good idea to start closing schools and hospitals so soon in advance of another general election. The great thing about our modest proposal is that it results in an enormous savings to Ontario taxpayers, while the people most adversely affected are either unlikely or ineligible to vote."

Premier Eves also announced that the Province has made tentative plans to re-open Tent City, a stretch of industrial wasteland on the lake shore that had been a refuge for dozens of homeless people in Toronto until several months ago, when an article about it in the New York Times led to a public outcry, which pressured the City to shut it down. However, Premier Eves believes that it's essential for Ontario's homeless population to be gathered together in large groups in order to facilitate the timely implementation of the Modest Proposal.

In recognition of the immediate and substantial savings that will result from this policy, Premier Eves also announced that every Ontario taxpayer will be receiving a cheque for $100.00 by the end of the week. The Tories are calling this the ‘Elimination of Homeless Persons Income Tax Rebate', and Eves has promised that additional rebate cheques will be sent out before the end of the year.

Mike Harris, the former Premier of Ontario, praised the Proposal as "an innovative means of dealing with a very difficult problem." He also sees it as a logical extension of the Common Sense Revolution, the party platform which swept the Tories to power in 1995.

Stephen Harper, the leader of the Canadian Alliance, is said to be intrigued by the Proposal, and is looking into the possibility of incorporating a similar plan into his party's policy statement for the next federal election.

By contrast, opposition members at Queen’s Park are strongly opposed to the Proposal. Liberal MPP Gerard Kennedy, who was formerly the President of the Daily Bread Food Bank, believes that this policy represents the clearest evidence yet that the Tories have been mean-spirited in their handling of the underprivileged. "This government has previously shown that it's prepared to criminalize poverty, such as through the passage of legislation which effectively outlawed persistent panhandling,” he said. “Now, they're essentially saying that being financially destitute is an offence punishable by death. I think that's simply unconscionable!"

NDP leader Howard Hampton took exception to the fact that Premier Eves defied convention by not introducing the Bill on the floor of the legislature, opting instead for an empty lot adjacent to a crack house in Regent Park where homeless people have been known to frequent. "This is a blatant publicity stunt," said Hampton, "which is both undemocratic and unsanitary."

However, Premier Eves is undeterred by his critics, and wants to proceed with the Proposal without delay. His only regret is that he didn't think of the idea sooner. "With the unusually cold and oppressive winter we just endured, the homeless problem most likely could have been eliminated in a matter of weeks," Eves lamented. "Still, I am very confident that we can have the matter taken care of before the end of the year, just in time for Christmas!"

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