The City of Regina should scrap its bylaw that prohibits panhandling, a social policy professor says, arguing there is no need to regulate people simply asking for money on the streets.
Garson Hunter, who teaches at the University of Regina, examined how the city deals with panhandling in a research paper released last week.
'All that is being asked for is the right to beg for money off the streets.' — Garson Hunter, social policy researcher
In the work, Hunter argues that Regina's current bylaw, which only allows panhandling through the use of a special "tag day" permit, likely violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Poor people have the right to communicate they are in poverty by asking people for money, Hunter told CBC News in on Tuesday.
"So you can communicate … 'Do you have a dollar?'" Hunter explained. "If your health — your well-being — is in danger then you should be allowed to let others know that."
In the research paper, Hunter makes the point more succinctly: "What is being asked for is not the elimination of homelessness or poverty," the paper argues. "Rather, all that is being asked for is the right to beg for money off the streets."
Hunter said he does not believe any bylaw to limit panhandling is necessary. He said if people asking for a hand-out are a problem, there are other laws to deal with that.
"We already have laws that — if you feel threatened, if you feel aggressive behaviour — we have laws that speak to that."
Hunter said that bylaws limiting the activities of street people tend to put the issue of poverty out of sight, and that the general public should know there are poor people in their city.
"Either give money or not, but at least see and be confronted with the reality that in our society there are many casualties of the current economic order," Hunter's paper concluded.
Regina's city clerk was meeting late on Tuesday to address the issue of the city's bylaw and was expected to comment on Hunter's research on Wednesday.