On February 12, City council will meet to finalize the budget for 2018. The lives of homeless people depend on the meeting’s outcome. The preliminary budget funds a maximum of 361 new shelter beds this year, less than a quarter of the 1500 that are necessary to deal with their severe shortage. If this preliminary budget passes, then the horror of misery and death homeless people have been subjected to continues. We cannot let that happen.

At a time when other provinces are closing in on a $15 minimum wage, a Halifax researcher says Nova Scotia’s 15-cent increase is a “slap in the face to workers.”

On Wednesday, the province announced that on April 1 the minimum wage for experienced workers in the province will go up by 15 cents to $11 an hour.

The minimum wage for someone with less than three months experience is going up to $10.50 per hour.

“[It’s] pretty meaningless obviously,” Christine Saulnier, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia said in an interview.

New Brunswick’s Liberal government has released a $9.6 billion budget with the province’s 11th straight deficit and a hefty increase in the net debt.

“There is an old adage that says you have to spend money to make money,” Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said Tuesday.

The 2018-19 budget projects a deficit of $189 million, and adds $372.3 million to a net debt that’s now set to hit $14.4 billion by the end of March 2019.

That’s about $19,050 for every man, woman and child in the province.

The conditions are often cramped and chaotic. People stretch out across mats, in chairs or on cots. Many have difficulty sleeping and report fears of violence or theft.

There is limited access to bathrooms and showers, few spaces to safely store belongings and there’s an increased chance of becoming seriously ill.

“There is a much higher likelihood of simple coughs and colds, but also in this season of severe influenza, outbreaks are more likely. Then there is lice, scabies, bedbugs, which can all be a result of overcrowding,” said Dr. Samantha Green, one of the authors of a new report on city drop-ins and winter respite centres.

“It is unacceptable for people to be sleeping side-by-side-by-side without access to a shower or enough toilets.”

Close to 100 homeless people died in Toronto in 2017, according to newly released data from Toronto Public Health (TPH).

A total of 94 homeless deaths were recorded, with males accounting for the highest number for the year at 68. The total includes 25 females and one transgender person.

Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe believes those numbers are low and worries accurate data is not being captured.

“I think the case in point is that right now, this winter, we’ve witnessed 750, possibly higher numbers of people who’ve been coming into the emergency winter respite sites that got opened this winter because of public outcry. So that shows you that all of those people, in the past, were outside,” she told CBC Toronto.

Here’s the good news: Toronto is opening a new, much-needed homeless shelter.

The city has acquired 348 Davenport Rd. in the Annex neighbourhood. It will be used as a winter respite site — a place for people to stay warm — starting this week and will open as a full-service shelter once renovations are completed.

Here’s the bad news: the NIMBYs are at it again.

And this isn’t your usual not-in-my-backyard kvetching. This is a whole new level of fiery opposition, shattering all previous records. It might be peak NIMBY.

The city has opened two new winter respite services this weekend in an effort to provide warm and safe spaces for Toronto’s homeless.

Combined, the city says the two new facilities will provide spaces for up to 200 people and both centres are expected to be open until April 15.

“Winter respite services are not a replacement for permanent housing, but the city is doing its best to provide safe and warm spaces for vulnerable people,” councillor James Pasternak said in a city press release.