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MLA Norm Letnick. (File photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)
MLA Norm Letnick. (File photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)

Letnick breaks party ranks

by - Story: 50926

Norm Letnick followed his conscience when he voted against his own party's legislation this week.

The Kelowna-Lake Country MLA voted against the Liberal government's Assistance to Shelter Act, a piece of legislation which would give emergency officials the power to force homeless people to go into shelters during extreme weather conditions.

Letnick says although the idea behind the legislation is noble, the act of forcing someone to go somewhere they don't want to be could have dangerous consequences.

“A big one that bothered me was taking people who haven't broken any laws to somewhere where they don't want to go and then releasing them. They would have a choice at that point to either go into the shelter or go else where and my concern was that if they aren't 100% rational after being taken to a place they didn't like, it's possible they could get lost or fall or suffer some sort of tragedy on their way back to wherever they want to go,” says Letnick.

He says forcibly removing someone from their possessions could trigger a mental health crisis for those with mental health issues.

“By picking them up against their will, I think we have a higher level of responsibility for them. I think we all want the same thing and that is to make sure that during severe weather conditions, people who are homeless have a warm place to go.”

Letnick says another concern he has with the legislation is that forcing someone into a shelter could undermine that person's relationship with the facility and make them less likely to seek out their services in the future.

The proposed legislation has passed three readings in the legislature and is expected to soon become law.

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