Local groups believe tiny homes may be part of the solution to housing struggles in Thunder Bay. Two non-profit organizations are pursuing funding for a pilot project to examine whether the small units are an effective way to provide lodging to those with low income or at risk of homelessness.

The Lakehead Social Planning Council (LSPC) and Habitat for Humanity plan to apply for provincial funding for the project through the Trillium Foundation. Bonnie Krysowaty, a researcher at the LSPC, says the funding would support a feasibility study to determine costs and identify barriers such as city zoning by-laws that may need to be addressed.

The concept is still new, but Krysowaty points to initiatives in other Canadian cities, such as Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Sherbrooke, Quebec.

The P.E.I. Legislature’s special committee on poverty heard testimony Wednesday on whether it is feasible to create a basic income guarantee for Prince Edward Islanders.

The idea behind a basic income guarantee is to make sure everyone has enough money to live on. Rather than calculating assistance based on ability to work or find a job, people would be guaranteed a certain income under any circumstances.

The committee is working on how the province could afford such a system.

Despite a rise in median household income, more and more people are relying on food banks in major Canadian cities, including Ottawa.

“Food insecurity is an indicator of poverty,” said Kitchissippi Counc. Jeff Leiper. “Ottawa is doing very well, but there’s a part of the population that’s being left behind.”

In Leiper’s ward, the Parkdale Food Centre is experiencing a steady increase in people coming to pick up food.

Karen Secord, the center’s director, said economic inequality is the reason so many people are food insecure.

“When people say there’s low unemployment, what the government isn’t telling you about many of those jobs that are being created is that they are part-time and they are low-wage jobs,” she said.

Cynthia Breadner knows how hard it can be to find affordable housing.

The Bradford resident was a single mother to two young children, who are now in their 30s, and saw firsthand the struggle for housing.

“I saw what it was like to try to manage as a single mother on a limited income,” she said.

Breadner, 60, said she looks around and sees seniors and single mothers who are going to be in trouble due to limited affordable housing.

U of T-affiliated study results could have implications for social welfare in Ontario

One of the most drastic changes to Germany’s welfare system, the 2005 Hartz IV reform, worsened health outcomes among unemployed people, according to a U of T-affiliated research study.

This specific reform in Germany’s welfare policies affected unemployed Germans who received needs-based unemployment assistance. Prior to 2005, this financial assistance amounted to 57 per cent of the recipient’s previous earnings. After the Hartz IV reform, however, the German government replaced these percentage-based payments with a flat-rate of 424 euros every month, cutting the average recipient’s benefits by 25 per cent.

A member of the NDP is calling on the Ford government to declare homelessness in the province a state of emergency.

Poverty and Homelessness critic Rima Berns-McGown recently demanded immediate action to properly fund shelters, along with transitional, supportive, and rent-geared-to-income housing for people in need.

She called it a crisis playing out in several communities, including Sioux Lookout and Kenora. Berns-McGown said people have nowhere to turn, resulting in preventable deaths.

The government of Ontario should empathize more with recipients of Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works.

Ontario Disability Support Program gives a couple no more than $785 and for a single person $500.

Come on now, a two-bedroom in Thunder Bay is about $1,037 a month and about $830 a month for a one-bedroom. How do you think we can live like this?