Last spring more than 50 members of the Senate of Canada urged the federal government to implement a guaranteed basic livable income program. At the same time, a special committee of the Prince Edward Island legislature called on Ottawa to join the province in creating a GLBI.

Doubters suggested a GLBI would be too costly, and too complicated. They’d prefer tinkering with the status quo. The GLBI idea seemed stalled. Faced with this hurdle, a group of Island Senators has written Premier Dennis King and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suggest a way to end the stalemate. Why not start with a small pilot project in Prince Edward Island?

The cold snap is squeezing capacity at Kamloops’s homeless shelters which are all now full, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

To meet the growing demand, a temporary shelter is opening tonight at the Memorial Arena with another 50 beds in addition to the 110 that are currently occupied.

“(We’re) hearing many people are going to the emergency room at the hospital, have no place to go,” CMHA Kamloops interim executive director Alfred Achoba says.

Environment Canada says the frigid temperatures across Manitoba will likely continue all week. The agency says very cold air shattered records in the prairies already, with all time lows reaching -49.9 C northern Saskatchewan. The province is under an extreme cold warning after high pressure in the north allowed the chilly air mass to hover above southern Manitoba, where wind chill values sit at -40 or colder.

Manitoba’s Liberals say this weather is a reminder of the need for immediate action to help Winnipeg’s homeless. Leader Dougald Lamont says Manitobans need to act now or people could die in this cold. Lamont is recommending 24-hour warming centres, free masks in bus shelters, and a central command centre to coordinate outreach work.

Last year, as millions of Canadians were told they may have to stay home, close businesses, and physically and socially isolate from the outside world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — a federal government initiative to pay $2,000 per month to Canadians in financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been a controversial move, but not completely unprecedented in North America. The CERB has a lot in common with the concept of Universal Basic Income , UBI as it is commonly known.

Though they’re different from each other, the main idea is the same: a government puts a set amount of money into the pockets of citizens, monthly or annually. The goal is to eliminate poverty, grow the middle class, and boost the economy, according to UBI Works, a group that advocates for the policy.

Toronto’s largest homeless shelter is in the midst of a significant COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the most recent Toronto Public Health (TPH) data from Feb. 2, there are 27 confirmed cases at Seaton House, which houses single men experiencing homelessness.

This number includes both residents and staff of the George Street shelter, which will soon be redeveloped as part of a new multi-purpose campus that will include an emergency shelter, transitional and affordable housing options, a long-term care home and a community service hub for both clients and people from the surrounding area.

Advocates say homeless people should get priority to COVID-19 vaccines given how at risk they are to the virus and how much more likely they are to get severely ill if infected.

“We as a society set the moral tone by who we provide supports for and who we prioritize,” says a position statement released Wednesday by two national groups who work with street populations.

“It’s imperative that we include the most vulnerable who can benefit most from the protection afforded by COVID vaccination.”

Food insecurity in the region appears to be spiking during the state of emergency, with York Region Food Bank seeing a 50 per cent increase in first-time food bank users since it began.

That figure is expected to increase as more people are impacted by job losses, reduced income or illness, according to a news release.

“When the first pandemic wave hit, it was a bit chaotic. We had never experienced this before, and we didn’t know what to expect. As the days went by and things started to look worse, there was a definite increase across our network of the number of people experiencing hunger,” Alex Bilotta, the food bank’s founder and CEO, said.