Faulkner had been living on about $220 a month in social assistance payments and was sleeping rough in tents and makeshift shelters, and periodically at his on-again-off-again girlfriend’s home. On Jan. 13, 2015, his plywood shelter, which was part of an encampment behind a business near the intersection of McCowan Rd. and Sheppard Ave., caught fire and he perished.

This inquest and an upcoming investigation into the death of Brad Chapman, 43, are the first probes since 2007 to examine how and why homeless people died while living in Toronto.

The inquest for Chapman, who died on Aug. 26, 2015, after he was found without vital signs in a downtown alcove near the Chelsea Hotel, was scheduled for early July at the Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex but that date has been pushed back. Chapman was rushed to hospital and — although his belongings included paperwork with his name on it — listed as a John Doe.

POVERTY IS A very real and pervasive issue that affects the lives of tens of thousands of people in Ireland today. The latest CSO figures show that over 780,000 people are living below the poverty line. Particularly stark is that there are now 70,000 more children growing up in consistent poverty when compared to 2008.

This is unacceptable in a rich country like Ireland. But poverty tends to be an issue that is pushed down the political agenda and attempts to work towards change can be undermined by unhelpful media narratives, stereotypes and misunderstandings about the issues.

There is a dominant narrative that seeks to blame people for their circumstances; the result of a history of poor choices. But the reality is choices are dramatically different for people living in poverty compared to those with access to resources.

Living throughout York Region, on friends’ couches and in cars, under bridges, abandoned trailers and sometimes just in tents out in the forest out of sight are teens with no place to call home. We don’t see them because they look like every other kid, but they’re homeless all the same. York Region youth are spending nights out of sight, in temporary beds or staying in places that could cause them even greater physical and emotional harm. These are kids from every neighbourhood, class and culture.

Youth homelessness remains a significant problem in Canada’s fastest growing region, where 10 per cent of our friends and neighbours live in low-income households and one in every five households struggles to find affordable housing. Our young people are already paying the price for a community in urgent need of additional affordable housing and support services.

Over the past few Ramadans, fasting from before sunrise to sunset, with no food or drink each day for a month, I have become increasingly attuned to the plight of my patients and those in our community who are suffering with profound poverty and hunger.

A group of Hamilton area Pakistani physicians conducted a Ramadan food basket distribution out of the Hamilton Downtown Mosque recently. One-hundred boxes of food — rice, lentils, oil, dates and pasta — were distributed to 100 families in the neighbourhood, regardless of religion, gender or creed. We didn’t want to ask questions or demand identification but instead relied on the knowledgeable local members of the mosque to ensure the distribution was as fair as possible.

Of course, we ran out of boxes.

B.C. has the highest seniors’ poverty rate in Canada
– 8 per cent of seniors live in poverty, in B.C.
– 6 per cent of seniors live in poverty, on average, across Canada
The number of seniors living in poverty has more than doubled since 2000
– 33,780 seniors lived in poverty in 2000
– 70,990 seniors lived in poverty in 2015
Single seniors are more than 3 times as likely to be poor than coupled seniors
– 16 per cent of single seniors in B.C. live in poverty
– 9 per cent of seniors in B.C. live in poverty, in coupled families

More than one in 10 New Westminster seniors are living in poverty, according to new statistics released this week.

The B.C. Seniors’ Poverty Report Card from the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. revealed that 11.2 per cent of locals 65 and up were living below the Low Income Measure — meaning they make less than 50 percent of the area’s median household income.

The provincial average was 8.8 per cent.

The top three highest seniors’ poverty rates in B.C. belonged to Richmond (20.3 per cent), Surrey (16.5 per cent) and Burnaby (16.1 per cent).

Faulkner was 49 when he died after his plywood shelter behind a Scarborough business caught fire.

This inquest and another — an investigation into the death of Brad Chapman was set for July but has been delayed — are the first in more than a decade to focus on deceased homeless individuals who lived in Toronto.

The five-person jury gathered Monday at the Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex in Toronto’s north end heard that a pathologist had determined Faulkner died of smoke inhalation.