Denmark’s new Social Democratic government said on Wednesday it would pour more money into healthcare, education and the welfare system, following through on its campaign pledge to reverse years of cuts by previous administrations.

The government said it had room to manoeuvre on spending because Denmark’s public finances were in good shape after years of austerity and that it would also raise taxes on businesses to help pay for the policy shift.

Many Danes, who pay some of the highest taxes in the world to fund their welfare system, are concerned that further spending cuts would erode the country’s long-cherished universal healthcare, education and services for the elderly.

Jerrold Paetkau is right when calling attention to Parksville city council’s abandoning the cold-weather shelter at Orca Place. However, it is more than neglect. It is a violation of international human rights law. This is not mere rhetoric. In 1976 Canada ratified the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights including the right to food, clothing and shelter and an adequate standard of living for all.

By so acting, our governments – federal, provincial and municipal — became the ‘primary duty bearer’ for ensuring we all have roofs over our heads including those sleeping rough.

Today, our governments are constitutionally responsible for ‘respecting, protecting and fulfilling’ the right to housing. Of course the private sector, civil society and community groups have critical roles to play. However no level of government should be downloading their responsibilities to hard pressed and underfunded churches to act alone in caring for the homeless.

Vancouver’s park board convened an emergency meeting last night (September 26) to discuss the situation in the Downtown Eastside’s Oppenheimer Park.

Despite the debate’s urgent tone, however, the evening concluded with a four-to-two vote to maintain the status quo.

City hall has pressured the board to file an injunction that would allow authorities to clear the park of dozens of homeless people who have camped there for many months now.

Instead, the board’s three Green commissioners—Stuart Mackinnon, Dave Demers, and Camil Dumont—plus COPE’s John Irwin voted to help homeless campers who want to leave Oppenheimer Park find more-stable housing on a voluntary basis.

Thirty-eight-year-old James Cochrane pitched his tent here about a week ago and he’s happy to stay as long as he can.

“I feel safe here,” Cochrane said.

Island Health issued an overdose alert on Wednesday, specifically, for the 900-block of Pandora after eight overdoses in 24 hours in and outside of the safe consumption site. A shortage of shelter beds is contributing to increasing chaos on the street, according to Grant McKenzie with Our Place Society.

“Victoria is one of the few cities across Canada that doesn’t have enough shelter space for everybody. All the other major cities have opened large shelters so that people can get in and out of the cold every night. We don’t have that,” McKenzie said.

Indigenous people are spending fewer nights in homeless shelters than non-Indigenous users, a finding from federal researchers who warn in internal documents that the result points to more problematic – or even insidious – issues in the country’s housing system.

The study found that no matter the community, Indigenous people were over-represented in emergency shelters, making up about 30 per cent of users despite only being about five per cent of the national population.

They stayed more often, but for fewer nights – almost five fewer nights per year, on average – which federal researchers say isn’t “necessarily a positive outcome.”

Seventy-two Indigenous children connected to child welfare died in northern Ontario, where three Indigenous agencies covering most of the territory were underfunded approximately $400 million over a five-year period.

The number of deaths jumps to 102 Indigenous children when looking at the entire province between 2013 to 2017.

And almost half of the deaths, 48 involving Indigenous agencies, happened in the two years it took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to respond to multiple orders made by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that first found Canada guilty of purposely underfunding on-reserve child welfare in its historic decision on Jan. 26, 2016.

So why are people still not getting housed? Is it a failure of people experiencing homelessness? Is it a failure of housing programs? Or is something else going on?

Bruce Wallace, Bernie Pauly, Kathleen Perkin, and Geoff Cross of the Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research in Victoria, BC in reviewing a modestly sized transitional housing program have stumbled upon answers to these much broader questions.

Their data points to three strong conclusions:

1. Failure to obtain housing is not the fault of individual program participants.

2. Failure to obtain housing is not the fault of the program.

3. Failure to obtain housing is due to system-level forces that create and sustain poverty and inequities.