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Fair Change v Ontario [Safe Streets Act challenge]

JFCY intervened in the Charter challenge of Ontario’s Safe Streets Act.  On April 2, 2024 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that the Safe Streets Act violates the Charter freedoms of unhoused people living in poverty. The Court restricted the law’s overbroad definitions of “aggressive” panhandling and soliciting and struck down the majority of the law’s restrictions against panhandling in certain locations, such as outside of ATMs or at transit stops. JFCY filed a factum and made submissions to draw the Court’s attention to the lived experience of young people who are homeless or precariously housed and highlighted the particular evidentiary and legal contexts that heightened the impact of the Safe Streets Act’s infringements of the Charter rights of children and young people who panhandle. Lawyers at JFCY have been advocating in various capacities for the repeal of the Safe Streets Act since the law’s enactment in 1999. The Court’s decision in this case represents a significant victory for young people in Ontario who live in extreme poverty and are entitled to express their needs with dignity and respect.

JFCY Factum

Superior Court of Justice Decision

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