The province is directing municipal service managers to begin collecting detailed, up-to-date information from homeless people and use a strategy called “by-name lists.”

It hopes the approach will help connect people with local housing and homelessness supports that better respond to their needs.

By-name lists are a real-time list of people experiencing homelessness that includes detailed information about the needs of each person. The aim is to create a foundation to improve access to supportive housing, connect people to services, and provide a more standardized approach for assessment and referral protocols to make sure people are being matched to the services they need says a government news release.

Belleville outreach worker Debbie Pike says provincial affordable housing policies are failing the most vulnerable during a pandemic with more people living rough on the street.

In a virtual press conference hosted by Just Recovery Ontario Thursday, Pike told provincial community leaders that those drawing assistance such as disability are facing great difficulty paying rising rents which leaves very little money at the end of the month for food and other necessities.

More needs to be done to fight homelessness other than providing food and shelter, according to Mayor June Caul.

As the provincial government works to provide more funding for shelter and services for the homeless, Caul said she has already sent a letter to the ministry, premier and prime minister advocating for a trauma centre to be put in the area. Her daughter works as a social worker and has exposed Caul to some of the underlining experiences that could be drivers towards mental illness and drug use.

The City of Hamilton will put $950,000 towards a new shelter, which it said will be geared toward addressing the unique needs of women, Indigenous women, transgender people, and non-binary people who are experiencing homelessness.

The shelter, according to the city, “will exceed and replace” the beds that were lost after the Native Women Centre’s Mountain View shelter was closed. It had 15 emergency beds available.

Even pandemics have silver linings and COVID-19 has at least one: a sharper focus on income disparity and widespread poverty in Canada.

With this awareness comes quickening footsteps of reluctant officials and an ongoing pros and cons debate over one concept, a guaranteed annual income.

What critics, which include social justice advocates, a puzzle to me, need to consider is that a guaranteed annual income is one tool dealing with poverty, not the only tool.

Even the recent B.C. experts panel, two years in the making, is not out right rejecting a GAI. As Hugh Segal points out the three-person panel seems to have themselves “bumping into each other while coming around the corner” in a report of 65 recommendations.

The idea of creating a universal basic income is being pushed by Liberal MPs and grassroots party members, young and old, from east to west — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apparent lack of enthusiasm.

It is among the top priority issues chosen for debate at the governing party’s April 9-10 convention following an online policy process in which the party says more than 6,000 registered Liberals took part.

Ontario is on track to miss its goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2025, according to a new report from the province’s Financial Accountability Office, and still lacks a plan to reach that goal.

“The province does not currently have a detailed plan,” reads the report into provincial housing and homelessness programs.

The FAO points out that Ontario’s five-year poverty-reduction strategy, launched just before Christmas, does not mention any additional spending or programming to tackle homelessness.