There’s been a 27 per cent increase in the number of people homeless on any given night in the city of Windsor compared to 2018, according to a new report to be reviewed by the Community Services and Parks Standing Committee on Wednesday.

The report, based off a Point in Time Count completed over a 24-hour period in March, details a significant rise in chronic homelessness and continued overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the city’s homeless population.

City staff are recommending that council lobby higher levels of government to acknowledge homelessness as a crisis and spend more money on housing and homelessness programs in addition to mental health and addiction services.

Food bank usage in Ontario rose 10 per cent during the first year of the pandemic to the highest levels since the recession, a new report has found.

Nearly 600,000 people made more than 3.6 million visits to food banks in Ontario between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, according to an annual report from Feed Ontario, a collective of hunger-relief organizations in the province.

Siu Mee Cheng, the interim executive director of the group, said COVID-19 has exacerbated the income insecurity and affordability issues in the province.

“This is an extremely alarming trend,” she said in an interview.

When the NDP gained power in BC in 2017, to fulfill a promise to the Green Party, they commissioned three academics as an expert group to study whether the province should adopt a Basic Income strategy and perhaps run a pilot project. In January of this year, the group, consisting of David Green of UBC, Jonathon Kesselman of Simon Fraser University, and Lindsay Tedds of the University of Calgary, released their report.

In the report they quickly nixed basic income for reasons commonly used by critics: relieving poverty could be done more cheaply by picking out individual poor groups and giving them more money; and some people might leave work to stay home and care for their children (despite the promise of $10/day child care, which did not exist at the time of other experiments on which the analysts based some of their findings).

Take a guess: what year was Ontario richest? Was it 1945? 1967? 2002?

The correct answer is 2019. That year, inflation-adjusted economic activity per person — what economists call real GDP per capita — hit a record level. Just before COVID-19, Ontario was richer than ever.

Yet we still had half a million children in poverty.

The contrast gets pretty stark in downtown Toronto. Canada’s Big Six banks have offices there, near the corner of King and Bay. They made $46.6 billion in profits in 2019. Their CEOs’ salaries averaged more than $11 million.

But east of Bay Street, the federal riding of Toronto Centre has the highest child poverty rate in Ontario. Thirty-five per cent of kids there never have enough.

Advocates worry staffing ­shortages at shelters could leave people out in the rain and cold with dire consequences, as a period of wet weather is set to begin.

Nicole Chaland, a housing and homelessness advocate, helped support a man who had been sleeping in a park during a storm that brought heavy rain and flood damage in mid-November, and told her he “couldn’t get the chill out of his bones.”

The man was able to find a shelter mat to sleep indoors, but was left to wander during the day with his belongings until the evening, when the shelter reopened. He tried to take his own life recently, Chaland said.

“He just said several times, he can’t go through this again. He’s got kind of a long history of homelessness. But he can’t go through it again, so I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say people are going to die if they can’t staff up these places,” she said.

A temporary shelter set to open in Sarnia’s downtown to help address the homeless crisis is drawing the ire of residents who say their neighbourhood is already struggling.

“It was a sucker punch to us,” said Chris Burley, who heads the Heritage District Neighbourhood Watch.

“It kind of seems like they ran the clock out on our neighbourhood so that we couldn’t really do much to oppose it.”

Lambton County said the emergency shelter will have 25 to 30 beds and be open from December to April.

It’s a huge number. If children in poverty had their own province, that province would have a bigger population than Saskatchewan. A new report from 120 national, provincial, and community organizations hosted by Family Services Toronto finds poverty reduction has stalled, and given the impacts of the pandemic, it is likely to increase in the next few years. An incredibly fast rise in inflation and cost of living, especially housing already has Canadians panicking about the cost of living and the this report will not assuage those concerns. Food banks are seeing unprecedented levels of demand which puts immediate pressure on the system for those most in need.

Thirty-two years ago to the date, on the heels of signing the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the federal government made a promise to end child poverty by the year 2000. A new report card by Campaign 2000 finds, despite that promise, more than 1.31 million children are still living in poverty.