About two dozen anxious social assistance recipients who gathered outside MPP Donna Skelly’s office Friday were met with locked doors, pulled blinds and a police officer.

The group boarded a bus in downtown Hamilton and headed up to the Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP’s constituency office to express their fears and uncertainty about potential changes to welfare following the government’s 100-day review of the current Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) system.

Robert Murray awoke Thursday to police commands to leave the tent he’s called home in recent months along a Moncton rail line.

The 48-year-old and his dog, Whiss, have been homeless since July. They’ve lived in a tent camp south of West Main Street behind car dealerships with up to 14 other people.

After the six people there were given a few minutes to collect what they could Thursday, the camp was demolished.

The percentage of women among people who are homeless in the city is more than twice the national average, according to a survey conducted earlier this year.

The city’s urban point-in-time homeless count, conducted during a four-hour period in mid-April, showed that 152 people were living in different stages of homelessness.

Of those 152 people, 98 agreed to fill out a survey, with 59 of them – 55 per cent – identifying as female. When dependent children were factored in, that percentage jumped to 60 per cent.

In 1995, when I was 17, the Mike Harris government radically slashed welfare rates. I remember the “Days of Action” and signing petitions to challenge the 22 per cent slash to welfare rates. As my pen touched the paper and my signature floated across the page, I knew in my heart this was a very important issue that would radically impact my life somehow down the line, even though I was not then receiving welfare.

Six years later I was forced to leave an abusive relationship from my high school sweetheart, and due to a spinal cord injury and subsequent quadriplegia, I would have to rely upon social assistance.