Punishing people for being down and out and homeless is not the answer. Increased and sustained funding for safe, affordable, supportive housing, well-connected with primary health care that is inclusive of mental health and substance use treatment, is what works to address homelessness. Policies and programs led by people with the lived experience of homelessness make them more innovative and effective.

… the new Russell Street shelter in Vic West is now open and will house up to 60 people in individual pods.

The new shelter is set to provide complete services including meals a safe consumption site, showers, laundry facilities and 24-hour security.

One Vic West resident says the shelter opening was a surprise.

“This is a shock to us still,” said Tony Young, adding that the community is bracing for the worst.

Poverty is at the root of food insecurity in Canada’s North, say experts.

Eight witnesses testified to the House of Commons’ Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee on the topic of food insecurity in Northern Canada on Tuesday.

Many northern communities lack economies that can generate wealth, said Merlyn Recinos, vice-president of business development at Arctic Fresh Inc, a store in Nunavut that sells affordable products online.

“What we need is to create an economy to be able to create those jobs,” Recinos told MPs. “(When) you create those jobs, you’re creating wealth within the community.”

Setting up guidelines where homeless shelters and supportive housing should and shouldn’t go will be the hot topic again at Penticton’s Safety and Security Committee meeting on Monday.

Blake Laven, the city’s director of development services, will present an update on the proposed guidelines of where future shelters and supportive housing should be placed.

Penticton city council wants to set up guidelines so that the provincial government can be made aware of its boundaries.

One of the suggested no-go zones is Skaha Lake Road where BC Housing is building a four-storey, 54-unit supportive housing for those experiencing homeless. Several people in reflective vests were walking the site last week, leading to speculation if work is getting underway soon.

It wasn’t always this way, as housing advocates who have been around longer than I have can attest.

Coun. Jean Swanson has reminded me a few times over the years that her friend, Sheila Baxter, published a book in 1991 titled, “Under the viaduct: homeless in beautiful B.C.”

In doing the research, Baxter had some difficulty locating homeless people.

Swanson shared this anecodote last year during an interview related to the city releasing results of the annual homeless count, which showed there were 2,095 people either living in a shelter or on the street.

With a smattering of nays from the floor of the House of Commons, the federal NDP’s latest effort to pressure the Liberal government to implement a guaranteed livable basic income was defeated.

But while the non-binding motion required unanimous approval, meaning it never stood a reasonable chance of proceeding, the push to build a financial safety net for all is unlikely to dissipate as Canada wrestles with a devastating third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am committed to keep building momentum and moving forward exploring next steps with advocates leading the guaranteed livable basic income movement throughout Canada,” Leah Gazan, the NDP’s critic for children, families and social development, said after the setback.

From Greens to Conservatives, it seems everyone has a version of guaranteed basic income (BI) that they can support. There is confusion, however, over the objectives of BI, and very different views on what is feasible.

The debate on BI has advanced with the recent publication of a study commissioned by the British Columbia government, and by tworeports from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).

The B.C. report rejects BI on the grounds that it would be cheaper to achieve poverty reduction in the province through targeted measures. The PBO report suggests that the national poverty rate can be halved at no net cost, assuming the elimination of some tax credits and social assistance programs. Who is right?