When people think of homelessness, they imagine homeless men, and that may be because homeless women are less visible — and more vulnerable — according to the YWCA acting director.

Michèle Nadeau of the YWCA in Moncton says the number of women without a home may be much higher than what is reported, because some women don’t feel safe in co-ed shelters.

Instead of going to a shelter, women couch surf with friends or family, sleep in their cars, or they would get a roof over their heads “in exchange for sexual favours,” Nadeau said. That’s why she said Moncton needs a dedicated shelter and more affordable housing for women.

Worried that they’d create too much new bureaucracy by hiring a new watchdog and setting up an adjudication system to enforce a right to housing they’ve promised, the federal Liberals appear ready to back off both.

The Liberals’ decade-long housing strategy, released a year ago, promised to recognize a right for every Canadian to have adequate housing and to remove government roadblocks to getting it, alongside aggressive spending to build and repair affordable housing units.

Under the $40-billion plan, that right was to be boosted by a federal housing advocate who would give people recourse if federal policy gets in the way of their ability to access an affordable place to live.

The Ontario government’s reforms to social assistance are raising concerns that some people — especially those with disabilities — could be left behind.

The province said Thursday it would be changing the definition of “disability” to match what the federal government uses.

Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod said people who already receive benefits will be able to continue.

She wouldn’t speculate on how many people might be affected by these changes.

Ontario’s Conservative government tells us they want to talk about dignity. According to their slogans, they’re the people’s government, and after a 100-day consultation into the admittedly faltering and woefully inadequate social assistance system in this province, they tell us they’re responding with compassion “for Ontario’s most vulnerable.”

That, at least, is the rhetorical groundwork Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa McLeod was laying for months before Thursday’s announcement of meagre increases to social assistance programs that affect the lives of nearly one million Ontarians

As the finer details of the Ford government’s updates to Ontario’s social assistance program are still being parsed, some social assistance recipients and advocates are reacting to the changes with skepticism.

“I haven’t heard anything from the government addressing adequacy … It sounds like good window dressing at this point,” said Diane Dyson, a public policy activist based in Toronto.

Poverty, homelessness and affordable housing in the Quinte region were all put out in the open in a lively round table discussion, held at Grace Inn Shelter in Belleville on a chilly Thursday evening.

There were some contentious moments at times, particularly with regards to bedding for transgendered and two-spirited people, the disparity between male and female beds, the lack of sufficient affordable housing, the financial impact of the shelter on the housing crisis and the region as a whole and why exactly a Conservative MP from Alberta had made a guest appearance at the discussion.