Edmonton From the LRT station to the fire hall to a warehouse and out again, the homeless people in this City have been shuffled from one stop-gap measure to another during the icy nights of January and February. None of this addresses the real issues faced by homeless people nor the rising tide of poverty in our City, says Alex Grimaldi, president of Local 30 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
There are some 2,000 homeless people in this City and it is time our mayor and council took action to solve this growing human crisis, said Grimaldi who represents 2,000 municipal employees in Edmonton.
Grimaldi met with the Edmonton Social Planning Council earlier this week after Local 30 members reported more and more homeless seeking shelter in the Citys parkades. It was brought forward as a safety issue for our members, said Grimaldi.
I want to congratulate City officials in their quick response to our members by meeting with them to discuss their safety concerns. But the issue is much larger than that. The causes of homelessness are complex and there is no quick answer. Local 30 is going to do what it can and I want to see it put squarely and seriously on the Council agenda.
Grimaldi is calling on Mayor Bill Smith to lobby the provincial and federal governments on homelessness the same way he does for roads and sewer maintenance. In a letter to Mayor Smith Grimaldi points out that while the programs and services needed to solve our homeless crisis are the responsibility of federal and provincial governments, this is no less a City of Edmonton issue.
We live and work in a big city and this is a big city problem, he said. While pressing the federal and provincial governments on their responsibility to our cities to meet infrastructure needs, the Mayor needs to get serious about the social agenda as well.
To best serve municipal workers, the people of Edmonton and people living in absolute poverty, we need to attack homelessness at its roots. That means more affordable housing, more social housing, more health services and adequate income supports for people living with physical and mental disabilities, he said.
The union will be providing educational courses for the membership, establishing a volunteer bureau to help shelters and group homes with ground and building maintenance and to speak directly with municipal politicians on actions the City can take.
We will be integrating action to help the homeless into all of our union committee work. As the nights warm living without a home is still a matter of life and death. I want to make sure homeless people are not forgotten again until next winter, he said.
CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 26,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupelocal30.ca , www.cupealberta.ab.ca and www.cupe.ca.
For more information:
Alex Grimladi, President, CUPE 30
(780) 426-6050 office
(780) 918-3061 - cellular