Ottawa Police, City Must Stop Harassing Panhandlers



May 1, 2013

Ottawa—The Ottawa Panhandlers Union of the Industrial Workers of the World is calling on the Ottawa Police Service and the politicians at City Hall to stop harassing and intimidating panhandlers.

It is time for Ottawans to stand up for this city’s panhandlers. The police continue to use the Safe Streets Act as a tool to sweep the streets, making it more difficult for panhandlers who are trying to simply get by, day by day.

We are urging our members and the public to watch out for police officers who are pulling the following tricks:

Threatening Tickets Citing Irrelevant Bylaws

Police officers are telling panhandlers in the Market area that they are going to issue them tickets using Byward Market Bylaw 2008-449. We’ve read the bylaw and it only applies to vendors; not panhandlers who do not sell anything.

Pressuring business staff and owners to complain about panhandlers

Police are entering businesses in order to solicit complaints from owners and staff about panhandlers on the street nearby. Fortunately, many business owners and staff resist the police pressure to file a complaint. We thank them for their efforts. Police should stop this tactic immediately; it’s not their job to make up complaints so they can harass our members and people on the street.

The Ottawa Panhandlers Union finds these tactics of misinformation and harassment unacceptable. The police should know better.

We urge Ottawans to write their city councillors and the Ottawa Police Service to let them know what they think of this behaviour.


The Ottawa Panhandlers Union was formed in 2004 as a way for people on the street to unite, help each other and defend against police, municipal and provincial attacks. For more information or to get involved with the Ottawa Panhandlers Union, email