The national statistics office is looking at changes to the federally adopted poverty line which, if approved, could increase the number of Canadians regarded as living below the low-income threshold.

The last time the made-in-Canada measure was updated was in 2008; poverty rates increased by 2.2 per cent because the financial cut-off used to define low-income was raised.

Experts suggest that a plan by Statistics Canada to recalculate the threshold by changing the “market basket measure” early next year could lead to a similar bump in poverty rates.

The case began in Boise, Idaho, in 2009, when six homeless people sued the city for prosecuting them. They argued that the city’s laws violated their constitutional rights. The case later reached the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California. In 2018, the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment, prohibits punishing homeless people if there are more of them than there are available shelter beds.

The appeals court said: “As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.” The city of Boise then appealed this ruling to the United States Supreme Court on December 6, 2019.

With no dissenting opinions, the U.S. Supreme Court on December 16 struck a blow to cities that would refuse homeless people basic civil and human rights. Refusing to hear Boise’s appeal, the Supreme Court let stand the 9th Circuit’s ruling that the homeless have the constitutional right to live on city streets and in public parks if a city does not provide enough shelter beds for them.

By the end of the day, more than two dozen homeless residents at the Cornerstone and Gospel Mission shelters will have moved into the new Fuller Place bridge shelter in Kelowna, freeing up space for homeless campers to move inside.

Eleven Cornerstone residents were moved over yesterday but their beds in Cornerstone were not opened to other homeless people until today, Dec. 17, Dawn Himer, executive director of the John Howard Society which manages both facilities, told iNFOnews.ca.

Plans call for another 10 people to move from Cornerstone today and five from Gospel Mission.

Outreach workers handed out notices at the Recreation Avenue tent encampment today, letting people know the beds were opening up. Seven campers were offered beds at Fuller House with a move-in date set for tomorrow.

Standing out in the rain on a path between tents in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park, Shane Redpath said he has no idea where he’ll go if he’s forced out of the homeless camp.

Redpath has lived in Oppenheimer Park for nearly the full year that it’s been in place and while it’s often framed as a place of violence, he said it’s safer than any other place he’s stayed in recent years.

“This has brought me some semblance of community, safety and security, which I haven’t had elsewhere. That’s why I’m here,” he said Friday.

“Everywhere I go, I’m looked at with disgust and disdain and here I can actually somewhat move on with my life and get moving forward in a positive direction.”

A clinical psychologist says a call to institutionalize homeless people with serious mental illnesses by Nanaimo’s mayor isn’t the solution.

Julian Somers, also a professor at Simon Fraser University, says experts already know how to stop homelessness, that’s by giving people stable and permanent housing, first.

But he says the province hasn’t been listening.

To fully address Metro Vancouver’s housing crisis we need an ambitious build-out of 10,000 new units per year of non-market, rental housing. This includes public housing and co-ops that are truly affordable for ordinary households.

New investments from the BC and federal governments point to a modest revival of public, non-market housing, but these investments must be ramped up.

More importantly, we need to break away from a dominant mindset that sees private sector property developers as the only builders of housing, and shift away from viewing home ownership as the preferred mode of accessing housing.

The greatest need is rental housing stock for low- to moderate-income households. This is precisely the group that is unprofitable for private sector developers, who would rather build luxury units for sale to the highest bidders worldwide.

The federal government’s claims its “middle-class tax cut” will lift 40,000 Canadians out of poverty strike oddly against calculations the cut will save lower-income Canadians between $37 and $137 per year.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Monday, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos praised Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s plan to extend the Basic Personal Amount (BPA) exemption from $12,000 to $15,000, this coming January.

Calculations by University of British Columbia economics professor Kevin Milligan note families with incomes up to $20,000 only save $37 per year with the cut, while families earning $20,000-40,000 save only $137 per year.