Ottawa Panhandlers Union

Status: Inactive

Contact Email: opu [at]


Founded in 2004, the OPU brings together people who are homeless, panhandlers, buskers and others who make their living on the street into an organization for mutual aid, solidarity and defense. These are the founding principles of the union movement and we are applying these ideas to building a voice and power for Ottawa’s street people.

The Ottawa Panhandlers Union (OPU) is a job shop of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch (IWW).

What We Do

The OPU’s mission is to defend the rights of Ottawa’s homeless and people who make a living from the street. We want our members and community to be able to make a living free from police harassment and intimidation.


Membership meetings are at 1 pm, the first Monday of every month at Centre 454, 216 Murray St., Ottawa. Email us and let us know you’re coming so we can keep an eye out for you.

What the OPU Does


Street Artists Collective

Coordinator: Roger Babin: tasmonicus [at]

The Art Collective is an initiative to bring talented artists who live on the street back into the studio so that they can create and make a living from the sale of their creations. We encourage donations of art supplies, studio time and space to exhibit and sell our work.

Copwatch Ottawa

Contact Email: ott-out [at]

Ottawa has become known for its police brutality. Copwatch Ottawa is a program designed to monitor the Ottawa Police Service’s conduct and treatment of all citizens, particularly those who make their living on the street. Our members and the homeless know that what has become public is only the tip of the iceberg. We urge everyone to volunteer for Copwatch Ottawa and help make Ottawa’s streets safer for everyone.

Fighting the Safe Streets Act

Contact Emails: opu [at] and ott-out [at]

The Safe Streets Act continues to be a thorn in the side of panhandlers and buskers alike. The reason for the act is not about safety. It is about giving power to businesses and the police to make Ottawa’s homeless people invisible and obstruct them from making a living or supplementing their income on the street. To make matters worse, Ontario has decided to balance its budget, in part on the backs of welfare and social assistance recipients by freezing their already low incomes. Inflation and rising costs of living, including rent and higher food prices, have the biggest impact on the people with the least money. It leaves people who already have the least with less. This is not right.