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.

What are the costs of poverty in Saskatchewan? What are the benefits of addressing these costs? What policies and practices can we put into place to address these issues?

When we think about interventions that we enact to alleviate poverty, it is all too often common practice to frame them as “all cost and no benefit.” When we started talking about the cost of poverty a few years ago, one of the main things that we wanted to bring to the floor was that poverty is extremely expensive not only the poor, but also our community as a whole. Dealing with poverty, then, could actually generate a return and create a lot of benefits.

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.

A group of people who were living under the Osborne Street Bridge are speaking out after Winnipeg police officers evicted them from their camp due to dangerous conditions caused by open power lines.

On Wednesday evening, Kyle Landry was one of the many people living “transiently” under the bridge who was told by Main Street Project they had to move their camp by Thursday morning, due to safety concerns.

Landry told CTV News the next morning police arrived to carry out the eviction.

“It’s absolutely an intimidation tactic,” Landry said. “Do they expect us with no heat and no power to be instantly ready to go? I don’t know what they are thinking.”

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.

Local businesswoman Bonnie Zufelt sees the homeless problem every day from her Main St. Partners Billiards and Bowling, and she’s passionate about trying to help.

This past week, Zufelt helped a young homeless man with severe frostbite on his feet requiring hospitalization.

“He couldn’t feel his feet at all. What’s going to happen when it’s minus 25 out there, some of them don’t have boots. We see them out there with street shoes. Where are they coming from? Where are they going to go?” she asks.

Zufelt is calling on the city and province for more affordable housing.

A community initiative to keep the homeless warm through the winter months was quashed by the City due to zoning regulations and potential fire hazards.

Last week Alina Beda, the vice-president of The Urban Knights and Ladies – a community patrol group that helped build two warming huts on a small field by the Manitoba Métis Federation building near the Disraeli Bridge.

The area has become an encampment for people experiencing homelessness, with trap tents set up in the area as shelter. Beda said the huts were meant to provide a warm place for the community in the winter months.