The author of a local study says food bank users faced worsening mental and physical health struggles due to food insecurity over an 18-month period, and society needs to change how we see food banks.

Karen Secord, executive director of the Parkdale Food Centre, says government policy needs to ensure there is a much lower reliance on food banks. (Submitted by Meredith Kerr)

Rizvi said food banks were initially created in the 1980s as a stopgap measure to help struggling families during an economic downturn, but have since become consistently relied upon by people.

She says that needs to change and Karen Secord, executive director of the Parkdale Food Centre, says the social support system programs — like Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support program (ODSP) — need a thorough review to help limit this constant reliance on food banks.

"This whole food banking thing should be cut right down to minimal. So if somebody has an emergency, yes, but this is not an emergency," she said.

In seconds, you can find out how many people die each year from any number of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimers, diabetes and cancer. With another click of your mouse, you can see how many emergency room visits there were to Hamilton hospitals and the number of hospitalizations related to mental health. It’s just as easy to find out the number of deaths that resulted from car accidents, skiing, swimming and biking. However, we have never had numbers on how many homeless people die in Hamilton.

A second person experiencing homelessness in Montreal has died this month after being found outside in frigid temperatures, authorities said Friday.

The chief executive officer of local non-profit Welcome Hall Mission identified the woman as Stella Stosik.

Sam Watts, CEO of the mission, said Stosik had frequented a hotel his group operated last year for the homeless. She died not far from the hotel, he said.

After a fire occurred Tuesday night at a Fredericton tent site made for those experiencing homelessness, police said they will close sites throughout the city.

Roger Brown, Fredericton police chief, said in a release the fire was caused by a propane heater inside one of the tents. Brown said winds caused the fire to spread and burnt down three tents.

Police did not report any injuries, however, they said five people did lose all of their belongings. Those affected have been housed at local shelters, according to Fredericton police.

Council has approved plans to set up a roundtable discussion that will bring together experts, front-line workers and people who have been homeless, with the goal of finding gaps in service and ending encampments in Hamilton.

A motion from Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann calling for a "human-rights based, health-focused" approach to housing was ratified during council's meeting on Wednesday.

Waterloo Regional Police are finalizing plans to deal with some of the region’s most vulnerable including those in homeless encampments.

Chief Bryan Larkin said police want a process in place so response to complaints about homeless encampments is consistent and property owners know what to expect.

“But our focus, our fundamental focus in all of this is around supporting vulnerable people, engaging with vulnerable people and actually getting them the help they need,” Larkin said.