Homeless memorial notes 995th name, Dec. 11

What a shocking statistic! Who is taking responsibility for helping the most vulnerable in Toronto? With 100,000 families on the waiting list for subsidized housing and 9,000 homeless people relying on shelters, Toronto is facing more than a “critical issue” in housing.

How desperate must access to housing have to be before we wake up and admit that Toronto has an emergency housing crisis? The article states that “13 people have died in this city in the last 30 days.”

Bold action and serious soul-searching needs to be undertaken by Toronto city council prior to finalizing a 10-year blueprint for a new housing action plan.

A homeless man who hitchhiked to Cape Breton because he needed a bed at a local emergency shelter says people who stay there are treated like criminals.

Keith, who didn’t want his last name used, told the Cape Breton Post he’s been sleeping at the Community Homeless Shelter since Dec. 6. He spent the first few nights at the former Margaret Street location but said it’s been a much different experience since the shelter relocated to Townsend Street on Dec. 9.

Now he said people who come to the shelter are forced to empty their pockets and staff search their bags.

“They search you like they’re cops. That’s not the way to treat somebody that’s having a hard time,” said Keith, 50, a United States Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have rights. Just because we’re homeless and in a bad situation doesn’t mean you have the right to treat us like we’re going to jail.”

Standing out in the rain on a path between tents in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park, Shane Redpath said he has no idea where he’ll go if he’s forced out of the homeless camp.

Redpath has lived in Oppenheimer Park for nearly the full year that it’s been in place and while it’s often framed as a place of violence, he said it’s safer than any other place he’s stayed in recent years.

“This has brought me some semblance of community, safety and security, which I haven’t had elsewhere. That’s why I’m here,” he said Friday.

“Everywhere I go, I’m looked at with disgust and disdain and here I can actually somewhat move on with my life and get moving forward in a positive direction.”

A clinical psychologist says a call to institutionalize homeless people with serious mental illnesses by Nanaimo’s mayor isn’t the solution.

Julian Somers, also a professor at Simon Fraser University, says experts already know how to stop homelessness, that’s by giving people stable and permanent housing, first.

But he says the province hasn’t been listening.

Food Banks Canada’s annual report on food bank usage across the country paints a grim picture of food insecurity in New Brunswick.

The report, titled HungerCount 2019, shows national numbers holding close to 2018 data — seeing a 1.1 per cent drop in the number of visits across Canada — but New Brunswick has seen a 7.9 per cent increase.

It’s the biggest provincial increase in the country, followed Newfoundland and Labrador seeing a 5.8 per cent jump and Ontario 4.8.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is warning against food insecurity in Cornwall and the United Counties of SD&G. They are warning that the cost of nutritious food in the region has risen by nine per cent over the past year.

“These costs keep increasing every year, and because of the cost of housing and inadequate income, many people and families are struggling every month to meet the needs of their household,” says Nikolas Hotte, Manager of the Chronic Disease Prevention program.

More than 235,000 people in the city do not have enough nutritious food to put on the kitchen table on a daily basis. Of that number, 50,400 Montrealers live under the constant threat of severe food insecurity, meaning they skip meals and are often hungry because they can’t afford groceries, with fruits and vegetables in particularly short supply.

Beyond drawing the somewhat obvious link between food insecurity and poverty, the report does contain some surprising findings. For example, among those who are food-insecure, 22.2 per cent graduated from high school, and an additional 11.6 per cent possess either a CEGEP or a university degree.