Evicted man vows to pitch tent by Confederation Building

Barb Sweet
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Ches Fizzard poses with his dog Blue at this tent pitched off Forest Road, St. John’s. — Photo by Barb Sweet/The Telegram

A St. John’s man evicted from Newfoundland and Labardor Housing has been living in a tent for a week and vows to pitch one on Confederation Building’s grounds Monday to call attention to his and other homeless peoples’ plight.

“It’s a hard time for me,” said Ches Fizzard, who put a tent in the woods off Forest Road so he could keep his family pet, a black and white Sheltie named Blue.

Fizzard said he’s been cut off from social assistance benefits and was given a small tent, tarp, pillows and blankets by various charities and had just acquired a stove before he spoke to The Telegram Friday.

“They don’t return your phone calls,” he said of Human Resources, Labour and Employment (HRLE), adding he begged the department for $20 for food on Labour Day weekend and was refused.

He’s been living in the woods for a week while his wife and grown son are at a Water Street shelter.

Fizzard said he’s endured heavy wind and rain this past week.

“I don’t go to sleep at all. I guess they can’t charge me with anything for staying here,” he said.

“I’m not doing any damage. I don’t drink and I’m not setting any fires.”

He also said the family's drug cards were cut off and then temporarily reinstated.

Fizzard’s troubles started early this summer when his 24-year-old son, who Fizzard says suffers from attention deficit disorder, cursed at housing workers doing renovations in their Stabb Court unit and the provincial landlord-tenants board backed their eviction after a hearing.

The family spent some time in a local hotel before being transferred to the shelter, with Fizzard deciding to live in the tent.

The dog is not welcome in the shelter and Fizzard said the dog calms his son and so the family doesn’t want to part with Blue.

Fizzard said he’s tried looking for an apartment in the city, but can’t afford the high rents.

HRLE can’t comment on specific cases, but said it doesn’t necessarily cut off people without a fixed address — it depends on the circumstances, such as whether they have a bank account where their cheque can be deposited.

For  rents on the private market, HRLE pays $472 a month before utilities.

Fizzard said he’s been unable to find anything at that amount — the family had a lead on one, but when they got there the landlord said it was gone. Afterwards, Fizzard claimed the landlord indicated the family wasn’t desired because they were receiving social assistance.

The province does pay shelters to house homeless clients — $130 a night. Each person also receives $125 a month for incidentals.

City of St. John’s housing doesn’t have any vacancies and, as of July, it had more than 350 people on the waiting list.



Organizations: Human Resources, Stabb Court

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Forest Road, Water Street

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Recent comments

  • Cris
    September 11, 2011 - 11:45

    TO SERIOUSLY Hire him then if you are in a position you say you are!!!!!!!!!

  • Concerned
    September 11, 2011 - 08:44

    I agree with alot of comments here stating that we all don't know the whole story around this situation. I will state though one problem I see in this city is that its hard for people to rent when they own pets. Landlords out there do not allow pets. What is the purpose of the damage deposit if it isn't to be considered for what a pet may do around the premise?!!!! Now they are going as low as to state NO CHILDREN!!! Shame on those people. I can only hope that the outcome that is to come of this family is just and right.

  • Bill
    September 11, 2011 - 07:55

    While there are facts omitted from this story as a taxpayer I am astounded that HRLE will pay $130 per person per night to house the wife and son in a shelter rather than pay a decent monthly rent to put these individuals into an apartment. It is just another disconnect in the antiquated regulations and thinking by HRLE and the reality of the housing market. And this story is a blight on the Departments of Government who have let this situation continue on for the past couple of months. How Government deals with its poor, its elderly, and its pensioners, etc. are far more important election issues than Muskrat Falls.

  • milly
    September 11, 2011 - 05:58

    why dont they do a storey on all the single mothers that are being thrown out on the street for being a few dollars short on their rent or no reason at all for that matter. All the moms on Kijiji begging for a place to live is another good storey. There are people all the time showing up at the single mom's association with their children in their hands and the clothes on their backs. People can serve someone an eviction for no reason and they have to be out in 90 days. They can have them out sooner if there is a good reason normally. The resources for single parents in this city are very limited other than the single moms association who is a very small operation but at least they are trying to do something more than I can say for our P.C government. Our government and some of the people in this province has always snobbed their noses on the less fortunate. Have you ever noticed the amounts of people that are homeless downtown on the streets begging? Sure has went up in number over the past 10 years since I have been gone and alot of the happen to be young teens! I have heard storyey of young teen girls involved in prostitution also. Why is the governmentignoring this or doing very litlle to help? Must not be their chidren so who cares right? In other provinces there are way more resources that can help. They actually show some compassion for people having a rough time. Unlike here, maybe that another reason why we are disliked so much in this country. There are alot of good folks here also but way to many A$%^holes that give us a bad name. Rotten apples of the barrel that needs to be tossed out. I cant wait for election time to roll around. I can garantte you that the P.C government will not be getting my support.

  • nobody
    September 11, 2011 - 01:47

    Funny how many comments are here about a man people feel is getting a free ride when so many other serious stories never get as much as a raised eye brow. I'm going to assume most of the you are the same people speeding in family neighbor hoods, running red lights, and cutting people off just out of your sheer jealousy and greed to "get ahead" of the next guy. Your all jealous your not on this "free ride" too. The simple fact is no one can judge, OR defend this guy simply because no one knows the full story.

  • Curious
    September 11, 2011 - 00:18

    I seem to recall a debate similar to this one on open line... A woman had stated they were being evicted because he "adult son" had removed items from a dumpster placed there by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing workers... the son was then accused of "stealing" the items and the subsequent eviction was for that purpose... I am wondering whether or not this is the same family? If it is, then "theft" might be a more reasonable explanation for the eviction than "swearing"... Now it might be interesting to note that the dispute Resolution Hearing resulted in a judicial verdict to terminate the tenancy to which Social Services would have had not other option but to suspend at least the shelter portion of their monthly cheque.. I still don't extract from the article why the support portion of their monthly cheque was withheld? It might be interesting to see whether or not the mother and son still receive money because they would have been categorized as a family unit, ergo, one cheque issued for all members...

  • milly
    September 10, 2011 - 22:22

    If there is so much work in this province like some of you claim then why are so many people that have moved here from out west still looking??? what is here really? I like myself know of quite a few people that have been looking for things in clerical and has not recieved one call back. i applied for a file clerk at a law firm in the city and I asked her as to why I did not receive a call back. She stated that I was over qualifed because I was a previous file clerk in a hospital? Also that 200 apllicants applied for that one position that payed 11 bucks an hour. Some of them being university graduates. Just because more people are eating fast foods it does not mean its a boom. only people really benefiting in this so called "boom' are people with the oil. Engineers for example. have you people looked in the paper lately and noticed that it is only highly qualifed people they are looking for in the most part? oh lots of home care work here too ..that happens to pay only 12.25 an hour and wont give people full time hours. Get with the program people and stop living in the dark ages and catch up with the rest of the country. No friggen boom here other the boom coming out of your a$$eS which happens to be gas!

  • jennifer
    September 10, 2011 - 18:52

    Buddy are you for real? Get a life ffs! and a job your a grown a** man

  • seriously
    September 10, 2011 - 18:37

    Everyone is certainly entitled to ones opinion. However some people i think need a education in some good old common sense. I notice people are quick to judge this man (family), but yet not so quick to judge employers out there. Speaking from a employers point of few, I have had done many many interviews..... Some of people who pretty much have been the same as this man. En when i ask the question of why have you not been employed in recent years. 9 times out of 10 the answer is this " I have tried begged and pleaded, but most jobs ...fast food ... etc , go with the ladder and higher the 16 year old , apposed to a 50 year old man trying to support a family. The sad part is , as i agree with another person here most older newfoundland people, don't have the education, and 99 percent of places now including fast food require grade 12. So maybe before we judge each welfare case we might want to take a good look at why alot of these people are turned down. Sadly as a employer I have experienced other employers turn down people on welfare simply because they have the impression anyone on welfare is lazy and will be useless. I believe if the government had a ounce of common sense in the matter , the 900 ... 10 dollar a hour jobs that i've seen posted all around st.johns and areas can be passed out to people on welfare! so before another person or employer bitches at the fact we work to pay for these people, try to give them the benefit of doubt and hire them! From experience the ones ive hired worked harder than any other person ive had with a grade 12 education !!!!!!!! who really knows this mans story.... right or wrong , the fact remains id like to see more employers hire grown adults who TRY and support there family, instead of 16 year olds who have no concept of work anymore without a cell phone attached in one hand !!!

  • stormyweather
    September 10, 2011 - 18:21

    something is not right with this story, too my loop holes, its not that i don';t believe him , i just think there is more to the story than he is saying, WOULD SOME ONE PLEASE GET THE STORY STRAIGHT BEFORE PRINTING A LIT OF NOTHINGS, AND LETTING PEOPLE DRAW THEIR OWN CONCLUSIONS, PRINT THE WHOLE STORY,

  • Don
    September 10, 2011 - 17:55

    To Gerry , not all people who live in NL housing are on Social assistance. NL housing is for low income familys. I live in Nl housing and I work full time, I pay my own rent , I am sick of people who shoot their mouth off without knowing the facts!!!!

  • Unknown
    September 10, 2011 - 17:43

    Please my god people leave the poor man alone ...for god sakes

  • mary
    September 10, 2011 - 16:08

    "The province does pay shelters to house homeless clients — $130 a night. Each person also receives $125 a month for incidentals." Tell me this is wrong! $130 a night!! I never knew homeless shelters were for profit!

    • outtatowner
      September 12, 2011 - 10:33

      Shameful how this province treats it's own. Whether it's his own fault or not he got evicted is not the point. The point is our government is treating a Newfoundlander lie trash while at the same time they pay immagrants welfare plus a 1500 dollar a month fedearl check. Maybe we should all move to another country then reapply to become a canadian citizin and get provincial and federal checks. If immagrants can live like kings here why can't we!!! Just sayin :)

    September 10, 2011 - 15:16


  • Sean
    September 10, 2011 - 14:58

    There are not enough details in this story to draw a conclusion. But I do find it hard to believe that the entire family was evicted because of a single incident of the son swearing at workers. I also doubt that medical benefits for someone diagnosed with ADHD and needing medication would be readily stopped. These things would imply that there is a lot more to know here...and perhaps those people at Social Assistance know the things that this story is missing? Those of you who think that being a social worker is easy should take a turn at it. I am not one, but I have a lot of respect for those who are.

  • Jean
    September 10, 2011 - 14:46

    WOW....what high and mighty people we have commenting on this story...Have you ever heard the saying..There by the Grace of God go I???? Most of us live from paycheck to paycheck...and I can only imagine how hard it is to get a job with no fixed address...Maybe he is asking for a hand up, not a hand out...People are so quick to judge....Must be wonderful to have perfect lives...and by the way...I have worked for everything I have, so you can't bash me!!

  • robroy
    September 10, 2011 - 14:25

    Wheather or not he can work is no ones busness The thing I find silly is the following."For rents on the private market, HRLE pays $472 a month before utilities. Do this mean government dictates how much rent one can charge. Imagine if everyone who had apartments charged the going rates where would prople reciving hrle live? There are people who need HRLE to help them pay for rent

  • California Pete from NFLD
    September 10, 2011 - 14:18

    Wake up all of you. Look at the picture it is all about the dog. "No dogs allowed at the shelter"

  • Sean French
    September 10, 2011 - 14:17

    Homelessnes is a huge problem in Canada to find out about homelessness in 24 cities across Canada attend the FREE event at ST. John's City Hall Monday Sept 12, 2 - 3 pm "Putting a face and voice on Homelessness"; facebook invitation here: http://on.fb.me/poGa9e

  • Melissa
    September 10, 2011 - 12:24

    i have lived in another province were any one able to work had to work min of 30 hours to get social services.

  • bt
    September 10, 2011 - 12:06

    I think the story is not reflecting the truth as protrayed by Fizzard as it is highly unlikely a family gets evicted because their son, ADD or not, curses at workers..sadly some people believe this. I suggest the full story and in the mean time someone should supply this pooor man with the job listings in The Telegram as there are plenty of jobs available for him, his wife and son so they can move into a bigger and tent as one big happy family.

  • Single Working Mom
    September 10, 2011 - 11:50

    I'm sorry, but I have to agree with the TAXPAYERS on this one! This couple needs to go out and work for their dollar. Yes, the employees of Provincial Government, or as ED rudely called it "cowards behind their desks", get paid with our tax dollars. However, they WORK for their money. These employees also pay taxes as well "ED"!!!! I have been less fortunate myself but I managed to pick myself up and not go public seeking pity.

  • cher nl
    September 10, 2011 - 11:38

    some of you people should be ashamed of yourselves , maybe this man may be able to work but did you ever think he may not have education or experience , and also alot of people look like they are abled bodies but truly cannot work , do you think that if there was something shady going on he would go to the telegram thus opening himself up to some people to degrade him even further than im sure he feels , dont judge people until you walked in there shoes , and maybe if you did you wouldnt even make it as far as mr.fizzard ... to mr. fizzard and his family i wish you the best and i wil say a prayer for you that everything works out for you

    • Concerned Tax Payer
      September 10, 2011 - 12:58

      Thats the thing about freedom of speech. It allows us to say what we want without shame. I am not ashamed at all to make a comment on this situation. There are a lot of older people here in Newfoundland that do not have much of an education, most people over the age of 50 that you talk to in rural parts of Newfoundland had to drop out of school at an early age to support their families. No social assistance back then and you didn't hear talk of people complaining because they couldn't get a government hand out. You worked your butt off for very little in return. Education is only part of the factor. If you are a hard worker and are willing to prove yourself there is no reason to be unemployed. Most people know a friend, who knows a friend. Like the saying goes its not what you know but who you know. And some people have no shame and are willing to put themselves out there and even go as far as having a piece in the telegram or have you ever listened to Open Mic on the radio. There are all kinds out there my dear who don't mind the least little bit.

  • Josh
    September 10, 2011 - 11:30

    So he is healthy enough to live for extended periods in a tent while caring for a pet. He is obviously capable of working. He can do what most people are forced to do in their lives and get at least one, minimum wage, job. Also, I am not aware of how severe his son's ADD is, but many of us suffer from various learning disorders and still live healthy and productive lives. It seems that there are many elements to this story that are either misrepresented, exaggerated, or simply omitted and I would imagine that the devil is in the details here.

  • Mark
    September 10, 2011 - 11:10

    Sick story. Sicker comments. I'd like to see any of you dumba$$es apply for, and hold a job from a tent.

    • kk
      September 11, 2011 - 08:23

      As for Mark's comment he has not been living in a tent for long he could have been working when he was in housing and as for his education he could of went back to school and upgraded to get his grade 12 as social assistance would of helped with that . Still alot missing to the story, but all the luck to his family

  • Ed
    September 10, 2011 - 10:00

    It's odd to read all the comments about taxpayer dollars going to social service recipients, while at the same time knowing that all government workers, including those at NL housing receive salaries from taxpayer dollars. It's disgusting to see people cowardly hiding behind their computers writing comments here that label all social service recipients as lazy and greedy and making assumptions about a persons health with no respect to their privacy. FYI: Non-visible disabilities do exist! $472 a month before utilities doesn't even cover the cost of most boarding room rentals any more, but this is obviously a fact of present life that is either unknown or callously ignored by HRLE and NL Housing reps. The high paid (with taxpayer dollars) executives at NL housing should be ashamed of themselves for putting these people through such an indignity. There are convicts staying at Her Majesties hotel. These people were not convicted of anything. Perhaps they should put the real criminals in tents? No. They should not. This is Newfoundland and true Newfoundlanders extend a helping hand to anyone, just like the amazing people of Gander helped so many strangers on 9/11. It's time for everyone in St. John's to aspire to be like the people of Gander and ultimately a true Newfoundlander.

  • MR
    September 10, 2011 - 09:32

    The social workers don't make the rule, politicians do. The workers follow the rules. Politicians need to change the rules to stop the abuse but that means votes. Everybody has a story about the neighbour on SA who smokes, drinks, has the big stereo with tons of CDs and the fastest computer but he/she can't work because they have nobody to take care of the kids or they have a bad back. Does this guy have any friends/family that could help him??? If not, why not?? There's more to this story. I don't know why the Telegram publishes so many stories like this without more detail. Barb Sweet, you need to ask more questions.!!!!!

  • Works for minimum wage
    September 10, 2011 - 09:18

    I am in full agreement with alot of comments, while I believe social assistance should be there for those who truly need it, unless this man and his wife have some illness that we are unaware of, why are they not working. Even with the minimum wage as it is, with 2 people working and living a modest life, they should be able to survive on the $2500 per month they would bring home combined working full time. While it is not a hugh salary, it is a livable one. There are many businesses out there who are desperate to hire full time staff. Many people who own homes and have children are proving it. If there are issues that we are unaware of and social assistance is needed then please help this man and his family. Maybe instead of pitching a tent he could have someone look after his dog, maybe even the SPCA could care for the dog until he is able to take the dog to his home. This would enable the man to be with his family. Obviously they were not evicted over just a few "swear" words. We are not stupid... there is much more to this story than has been told Maybe the man is working, and not reporting his income. Who knows... but good luck to this family as they try to get their lives straightened out!

  • Kent
    September 10, 2011 - 09:03

    For Christ's sake, can anyone in that basket case of a dept (Social Services) do anything to help this man and his family????

    • Bernice
      September 10, 2011 - 14:34

      Social services are the same as they were 35 yrs ago! The ones in need genuinely get nothing!! However, the ones screwing the system live better than us workers! Fact or fiction? God bless this family

  • Gerry
    September 10, 2011 - 08:46

    Is this man and his wife employed? If no, why?

    • Gerry
      September 10, 2011 - 13:07

      This story is incomplete. Does this man work? Does his wife work? If they are unemployed, why are they unemployed.? Have they looked for work? Why were they, as a family, living in NL housing, if they are able-bodied and not seeking employment.? It is not good investigative journalism to write a sob human interest story and leave unanswered so many questions, which the writer should have anticipated readers would want answers to. And one more point; this couple would not have been evicted by NL Housing for the reason identified in the story. There is much more to this scenario and it is incumbent on the writer, or The Telegram. to ensure it is told in its totality. One should have assumed that the story, as it is written, would evoke some very negative responses and I am of the opinion that the purpose of the article should not have been written & published for that purpose alone. Let's have the whole story please and then we can be more objective in our response.

    • Katrina
      September 12, 2011 - 15:38

      He ans his wife are both unemployed, and both able-bodied. This is the way that it has been for years.

  • Theres more to this story
    September 10, 2011 - 08:41

    It sounds like this fella isn't telling the whole story. Evicted for cursing? I don't believe that one, there's more to that and ADD isn't an excuse either.

  • Mike
    September 10, 2011 - 08:40

    There's a lot more to this than the man is telling The Telegram. Dispatch a team of social workers and psychiatrists and assess each of their unique needs and build a response from there whether it's assisted housing or institutional treatment. They are still human.

  • Chris
    September 10, 2011 - 08:27

    There are plenty of available positions all over the city for work. Maybe that might help!

  • mp
    September 10, 2011 - 08:21

    So they will give him $472 a month for rental including utilities for a family of 3 but they will pay a shelter $130 a night (is that per person?!) Umm can ANYONE in HRLE do math? My 9 nine year old might be able to help them out.

  • Concerned Tax Payer
    September 10, 2011 - 08:18

    I have one question, why doesn't this guy get a job? Instead of relying on social assistance. What I don't understand is that the HRDC job bank is overflowing with jobs, and I am sure most people on social assistance qualify to fill most of the positions. I think it is time for social assistance to be more like unemployment. If I go to work and pay in a load of taxes and then try to get a little bit of unemployment i have to fight for it, even though I have just paid out the nose for years as a worker. But if I were to quit my job and say to hell with it I don't feel like working anymore and went to social assistance, boom; money, place to rent, bills paid, health card. No wonder Newfoundland is in such hard shape. New saying, instead of the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer in Newfoundland it would be the workers getting worked to the bone while the poeple getting social assistance are getting lazier. Get up and go to work. Don't get me wrong I understand social assistance is needed by some people and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, but social assistance is being abused in our province. I think its time to make social assistance more for the needy instead of the greedy. Bring on the drug testing, health testing and eduacation testing before you freely give out social assistance. I say this as a concerned tax payer. Who else is with me on this? Mr Fizzard I suggest you try calling HRDC instead of HRLE!

  • Barry
    September 10, 2011 - 08:18

    Mr. Fizzard looks like an able bodied person, maybe he should look for a job instead of a handout.

  • Wondering
    September 10, 2011 - 08:05

    You do NOT get evicted over night and not for ONE violation. There is more to this story than Fizzard is telling. Just wait until the truth is told.

  • A way of Life
    September 10, 2011 - 07:48

    no mention of health issues..................looks pretty healthy to me...............able to camp outside, try getting a job and supporting your family, instead of blaming someone else.

  • gerry wells
    September 10, 2011 - 07:46

    He looks able bodied to me. If he walked down torbay road he would have to walk past a lot of help wanted signs. same old story ....."Whats the government gonna do fer me???"

  • Donna
    September 10, 2011 - 07:37

    I'm disgusted that the province will pay $8050 a month for shelter and 'incidentals' for this man's wife and son but won't give them enough money so they can rent a decent house or apartment!!!! This is, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous! Is the province biting of its nose to spite its face??? I'm sure that these people could get comfortable housing, food, 'incidentals', etc. for a lot less than the amount being paid out to a shelter,,,,,,,,,,,,,and then this man has to live in a TENT??? I am disgusted with the whole system. I think it's about time for an inquiry into the entire 'social system', and someone should be made accountable for the needless squandering of the 'provincial purse'.

  • Kerry
    September 10, 2011 - 07:36

    go get a job!!!!!

  • Milly
    September 10, 2011 - 07:33

    I think the province has failed it's less fortunate. they are too caught up in the oil but it will only last so long. 10 years to be exact. I moved back here after 11 years from Alberta and I am a single mom and I have nothing but back luck since I got back here. I too have been evicted with no where to go. I got a 90 day eviction for filing a complaint with the city about the condition of my apartment. Slum lords are taking advantage of many less fortunate people and it needs to be stopped. also I have not been able to land a job that works with my daughters school schedule because I have no family in the city that can help out. Also a job that pays well does not exist. All part-time for poor wages. Finding an afforable apartment that will allow a child or childen is also difficult. what the hell is wrong with you people? You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Karma has an odd way of working its magic, you never know when you could be walking in our shoes one day. The other provinces help the less fortunate alot more than they do here. Nothing here but greedy , discriminating assh%%les. Not all of you but there sure is alot of you!

    • Thanks for coming back
      September 10, 2011 - 23:09

      Thanks for coming back and being a burden on our tax payers. You say you have no family here, so why come back and just go on social assistance? Yet you can afford a computer and internet, life isn't all bad.

  • BR
    September 10, 2011 - 06:55

    Here's a thought. Take a walk around the city and look at all the help wanted signs and pick one. You may not get rich but it will get you out of the tent. How is the dog calming your son if he is on Water St and the dog is on Forest Road. If you want a dog, an apartment, food, clothes etc, work for it!!!! If you don't want to work, stay in your tent.