Media releases | January 11, 2024

EDMONTON - In response to Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi’s public commitment to call a special meeting to declare a housing and homelessness emergency, Public Interest Alberta’s Executive Director Bradley Lafortune issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to see that Mayor Sohi has listened to the over 4000 individuals and organizations from across the province who signed our open letter requesting that council change how the city and the police service are handling encampments. Advocacy works and we thank the mayor and council for listening to us. 

“The entire country is watching in horror as the police have violently swept encampments in extreme cold temperatures over the past few weeks. We’ve watched the police deal violently with peaceful protests of their actions. And we’ve seen them arrest and detain a journalist. 

“City Council’s special meeting to declare a housing and homelessness emergency is a good first step; however, it must be accompanied by action. We need real solutions like minimum shelter standards, investments in wraparound supports, an evidence-based and comprehensive harm reduction strategy, a robust housing-first strategy, and rent control in order to truly solve this crisis.

“For this to happen, the province needs to do its job. However, Minister Nixon and Premier Smith are currently more interested in criminalizing people who are living in the wreckage of the UCP government’s failed policies.

“Over the past weeks, Edmontonians and Canadians have learned how broken our housing policies are, and just how out of touch they are with Treaty and human rights.

“Enough is enough. We’ve had enough finger pointing. Housing is a human right and anything less is unacceptable.”