This is a continuation of my October 6, 2022 blog which began a discussion of Edmonton’s huge problem – that of homelessness. A definition of homelessness began there and will be continued. This definition of homelessness was crafted in 2012 by the COH, a formidable group of leaders from research, polic,y and practice. The definition was revised in 2017.
“Homelessness describes a range of housing and shelter circumstances, with people being without any shelter at one end and being insecurely housed at the other. That is, homelessness encompasses a range of physical living situations, organized here in a typology that includes 1) Unsheltered, or absolutely homeless and living on the street or in places not intended for human habitation; 2) Emergency Sheltered, including those staying in overnight shelters for people who are homeless, as well as shelters for those impacted by family violence; 3) Provisionally Accommodated, referring to those who accommodation is temporary or lacks security of tenure, and finally, 4) At risk of Homelessness, referring to people who are not homeless, but whose current economic, and/or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards.
It should be noted that for many people homelessness is not a static state but rather a fluid experience, where one’s shelter circumstances and options may shift and change quite dramatically and with frequency. The problem of homelessness and housing exclusion is the outcome of our broken social contract, the failure of society to ensure that adequate systems, funding, and supports are in place so that all people, even in crisis situations, have access to housing and the support they need. The goal of ending homelessness is to ensure housing stability which means people have a fixed address and housing that is appropriate (affordable, safe, adequately contained, accessible and suitable in size), and includes required income, services and supports to enhance their well-being and reduce the risk that they ever will become homeless, This means focusing both on prevention and on sustainable exists from homelessness.
Reading and reflecting upon this definition the first thing that struck me was the massive extent of homelessness and the complete and utter impossibility of ever even, counting, the number of homeless people living in today’s society much less alleviating it. .
Homelessness is a humbling and horrible malady. What makes the situation even worse, making the cure almost impossible, is the political climate of today, particularly in this fair, and actually affluent province of Alberta. The newly arrived Premier is not focusing on how to solve the problem of homelessness – she is focused upon, according a a magnificent article on the Toronto Star on bolstering her own power at the expense of the health of this province. This from The Star “On her first day in office, Alberta’s new premier emphasized her plans to protect unvaccinated people under Alberta’s Human Rights Act, bolstering her promises to get rid of the province’s chief medical officer of health, restructure Alberta Health Services and never allow the province to enter a lockdown under her leadership.”
Unbelievable, that is what it is. I do somewhat laugh, which is absolute proof that my sense of humour is my most valued and sustainable trait. I leave the chaos, confusion, gun violence, every other kind of violence, a conservatively dreadful Supreme Court hell bent on destroying the rights of women on a fateful day almost a year ago. I packed myself up and went to live in a Muslim country where, at least, I thought, would be free of discrimination. I believed the lies of the UAE’s Muslim rulers finding myself without basic human rights and without the ability to speak out against the greed, tyranny and oppression suffered by the huge ex pat community. I survived that nightmare armed with my credit cards as well as the invaluable love, protection and long term room rate provided by the Abu Dhabi Airport Premier Inn. With palpable relief returned to the democratic country of my birth – human rights are respected, there is gun control, safe, lawful abortions are available and not threatened, the most recent Canadian Supreme Court appointee, made by Prime Minister Trudeau, is an Indigenous woman. The Lt. Governor of Alberta, King Charles’ representative in this country, is a Muslim woman, born in Uganda. The medical care in this province is exemplary – I have a medical team and coverage that surpasses that of the Cadillac employer provided medical plan I had in California. (British Columbia’s health care is utterly dismal, lived in Vancouver 2017-2019). My Edmonton apartment is spacious, utterly safe with a fantastic view. My fellow tenants are hospitable, respectful and come from all walks of life. They can readily afford the rent and are therefore, content with their residency. The residents of my Marin County apartment could barely afford the rent, found refuge there with their children so that the kids could go to a safe school – fleeing the public school of San Francisco or prohibitively expensive private schools. As a consequence of the stress the tenants were robot-like and were cruel and discriminatory towards me. Dogs in that complex ruled, everyone had a huge one in their tiny apartments. Dogs are not allowed in my Canadian apartment building – I have dog phobia so this is hugely important to me. I have been able to establish a viable presence in Canada with great bankers, accountants and financial planners. I was happy, happy, happy! Everyone welcoming, everyone saying Welcome Back when I told them I left Edmonton fifty-five years ago but was back to stay.
But then, out of nowhere, comes Premier Smith. Out of nowhere means suddenly, unexpectedly. Another idiom is out of the blue which is unexpectedly; blunt; suddenly; sudden; all of a sudden; abrupt; all at once; quick; swift; rapid; speedy; fast.
Well it was without warning to me anyway as I am not schooled in the parliamentary system of democratic government. I was raised and obtained early schooling and a university degree in Canada but in 1967 to the USA – becoming a lawyer, versed in US constitutional law and working for a government entity. Incidentally, it is to be remembered by haughty Americans that their form of democratic government is unique – all other democratic countries follow the parliamentary model. Therefore, I had long ago forgotten how this system worked and did supply some erroneous information. The United Conservative party met in Calgary, choosing Danielle Smith to be the head of their party and hence the Premier. The vote was not cast my MLA’s as I thought but was cast by party members – all one has to do is pay money and say you are a United Conservative party member. So Premier Smith packed the place with ‘her’ people and this is what I got – well me and all of the other Albertans. One story from The Star summarizes her campaign situation beautifully: Smith’s leadership campaign was anti-science, anti-vax, anti-law and overall anti-reality, This written by Graham Thomson.
Former Premier Jason Kenny stepped aside, the vacancy being filled by Smith. He had this to say: “Kenney told a reporter that “a conservative party or government that is focused on a campaign of recrimination over COVID, politicizing science, entertaining conspiracy theories, campaigning with QAnon, is a party that can’t form government and shouldn’t.”
This from the lead story which will be linked in its entirety. “EDMONTON—In the eyes of Alberta’s newly minted premier, Danielle Smith, unvaccinated people have faced an “extreme level” of inequity that is unparalleled and, she says, she plans to protect them under the province’s Human Rights Act.“They have been the most discriminated against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime,” Smith said Tuesday during her first media availability as premier of Alberta.” The link to the entire article:
Well, to say the very least, her statements did not go over real well. (Again I laugh at my own humour). She was questioned by reporters at the time. “One of her core campaign promises was to protect unvaccinated people under the Alberta Human Rights Act. On Tuesday, a reporter asked why Smith thought vaccine choice was on par with issues around race, sexuality or gender identity, and needed to be placed under the protection of the act.“I don’t take away any of the discrimination that I’ve seen in those other groups that you mentioned,” said Smith.
An Indigenous leader was understandably outraged, pointing out that during her lifetime the massive genocidal graves of Residential Schools were, and continue to be, discovered.” Not being able to go to your child’s hockey game is not a similar form of discrimination as the mass murder of children. “
But this is where my ox is getting gored. “One of Smith’s other campaign promises was to completely reform Alberta Health Services, the main health body in the province, after she said the pandemic revealed its systemic weaknesses. Smith said Tuesday that she could even get rid of health bureaucrats to do this because the restructuring will be sweeping, and she said that within 90 days she wants to have a new governance structure in place.”
Whose ox is being gored means who is suffering or losing out in a given situation. Alexis McBride’s ox is possibly being gored. An anti-scientific woman promises to reform Alberta Health Services whom I depend upon. She is vows she will get rid of ‘health bureaucrats’ – who are ,incidentally, highly esteemed within their profession. Who shall replace them? What self respecting knowledgable physician honoring the Hippocratic Oath is going to serve under her whims, caprice and ignorance of medical and scientific matters?
(Taking the Hippocratic oath, the physician pledges to prescribe only beneficial treatments, according to his abilities and judgment; to refrain from causing harm or hurt; and to live an exemplary personal and professional life.)
But my ox is getting gored in another arena. A letter written to the Edmonton Journal by a knowledgable man studied the identity of those who discriminated against in Canada. They are Indigenous people, transgender individuals and Muslim women. I fall into one of those categories – I am a Muslim woman.
Thought I fled discrimination when I left the USA – guess not. All of this has given me pause – I am rethinking everything: the thrust, the focus of this blog, my apparel, my demeanor, the advisability of certain friendships.
This is the plan for next week. My fifth jab is scheduled for Tuesday. I do feel secure that it will take place – cannot imagine that Premier Smith will be able to dismantle the health system that quickly and efficiently. At the moment my protest against her reign is rather passive. I do enter her territory as I breakfast in the Legislative Cafeteria. I wear a pin, obtained in Marin County upon the occasion of my third jab. It says: I got vaccinated for my community. Premier Smith has not come down to the first floor cafeteria for breakfast as yet, according to my sources. The treasured pin shall be pictured at the conclusion of this blog.
The other photo was taken yesterday. Although the autumn leaves are in abundance in the Alberta Legislative Grounds red foliage is rare. I spied a glorious tree pictured with the Legislative Building in the distance.