A Lower Mainland social assistance office is reportedly making changes to how it deals with those waiting to access its services after being criticized for keeping many waiting outside.

Pastor Jesse Wegenast, harm reduction co-ordinator with The 5 and 2 Ministries in Abbotsford, says for about a year the city’s office for the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction would only allow a handful of people in the office at a time, forcing the remainder to wait outside, a practice he says is indicative of how society treats those in poverty or homelessness.

On April 11th the Ford Government released their 2019 provincial budget. We’ve crafted a response highlighting areas of significant concern in the document. See below for our media release:

Poverty was not mentioned once in the 382 pages of yesterday’s provincial budget. While the government professes a desire to improve Ontarians’ health and health care system, it shows no interest in addressing poverty, the most significant determinant of health. This short-sightedness will prevent our province’s most vulnerable from improving their health, and increase health and social services costs in the years to come.

Summary of our key concerns …

The closure of Penticton’s emergency winter shelters appears to have resulted in an increase in social issues and crime downtown.

Both the City of Penticton and Penticton RCMP report a spike in anti-social behaviours following the closure of the city’s emergency shelters on the last weekend in March.

Penticton RCMP spokesperson Const. James Grandy said in an email last week the emergency shelter closings left many of the homeless on the street with nowhere to go.

People living in poverty in Quebec are more likely to stay in situations of need compared to elsewhere in Canada, according to a study published by the Institut du Québec on Thursday.

According to the study, titled “Leaving poverty behind in Quebec: Analysis of poverty, inequality and social mobility,” five per cent of the population in the province has reported low incomes each year from 2009 to 2016 — one percentage point higher than in Canada (sic).

The federal Liberals are using their omnibus budget bill to legislate a “right to housing” in Canada, a pledge advocates worry could fall short of being the historic step the government wants without a few parliamentary tweaks before summer.

The budget bill would set into law rules for the Liberals’ 10-year national housing strategy, now valued at more than $55 billion, impose those rules on future governments and create two new oversight bodies meant to make sure the spending reduces homelessness.

A Guelph couple is facing more than $1,500 in fines from the city after inviting two homeless people to live in their backyard “tree fort” over the winter.

The city’s building services became aware of this arrangement when first responders were called to the Harris Street home on March 4 after a small fire in that tree fort caused serious injury to a Guelph woman. That woman, Kayte, and her partner had been living in the backyard shelter since just before Christmas. They saw it as a step up from the tent they had been sleeping in.

The Mayor of Maple Ridge is under fire for saying homeless people are “basically raping and pillaging” his community.

Mike Morden is doubling down on the controversial comments he made in an interview posted to YouTube on Apr. 5.

“People coming here to carry on doing drugs and basically raping and pillaging all of our community and businesses, and that’s got to stop,” he says.