Close to half of Nunavut households categorized themselves as moderately or severely food insecure in a national survey, according to Statistic Canada data released on Tuesday.

Abluqta Society president Joseph Arnasungaaq and former Thrift Store manager Sharon Alerk display the original food bank donations the society received in May of 2018. Photo courtesy Erin Strachan

With nearly half of Nunavut homes struggling to obtain enough to eat, food banks like this one in Baker Lake are an essential life line. Photo courtesy Erin Strachan

While 50.6 per cent of Nunavut respondents to the Canadian Community Health Survey in 2017-18 reported that they had enough nutritious food on hand, 25.7 per cent in the territory classified themselves as moderately food insecure and the remaining 23.7 per cent listed themselves as severely food insecure.

Niagara Falls city council will receive a staff report Tuesday recommending politicians consider allocating funding for a homeless shelter through a grant process in the 2020 budget.

Staff is recommending the city work with Niagara Region, which provides homeless services through third-party contracts, and existing providers to secure appropriate shelter for the homeless.

“It is recommended, in light of Niagara Region’s responsibility as the homeless-service system manager, that the city, rather than taking on the operation of a shelter itself, should work with Niagara Region to address local needs,” it reads. “While Niagara Region works to address homeless pressures in Niagara, it has been noted provincial and federal funding is well below the levels provided to comparative cities. Accordingly, pressure should be brought to bear on the ministries to increase the funding provided to Niagara Region.”

A United Nations report is highlighting the role “abhorrent” housing conditions play in the poverty and exploitation that Indigenous people face in Canada and around the world.

“(Indigenous people) are more likely to suffer inadequate housing and negative health outcomes as a result, they have disproportionately high rates of homelessness and they are extremely vulnerable to forced evictions, land-grabbing and the effects of climate change.”

Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur on adequate housing, noted that housing shortages are severe enough in Canada’s North that some people in Indigenous communities are forced to sleep in shifts.

“There’s 15 people living in a home that’s the size of a trailer, so of course they have to sleep in shifts when there’s only so much room,” she said.

The report also highlights poor water systems on many Canadian reserves.

“In a country with more fresh water than anywhere else in the world, 75 per cent of the reserves in Canada have contaminated water, with communities such as Attawapiskat declaring a state of emergency,” it reads.

City officials are looking for solutions after homeless people looking for a warm bed Friday were turned away from local shelters filled to capacity.

“We’ve experienced these kinds of peaks in the past but in those cases we’ve always managed to find places in motels,” Mayor Kevin Davis said Sunday.

But, on Friday, there wasn’t enough room at motels, forcing those looking for shelter to make other arrangements or spend the night in the cold.

Despite declining poverty figures, many lower-income Canadians still feel overlooked as the leaders of the main political parties pledge to do more for the middle class.

For those who may be homeless and relying on free meal programs, their faith in politicians has faded.

Kevin Jones suffers from a shoulder injury and says his disability cheque doesn’t cover monthly expenses.

“Trickle-down economics never trickle down this far,” he told CTV News.

Since 1876, when the Indian Act first forced First Nations people to live on reserves, the federal government has been responsible for providing First Nations housing. And it has done a bad job.

That’s why First Nations leaders say the next federal government, elected on Monday, must relinquish its bureaucratic grip to help fix the ongoing crisis in First Nations housing.

Nationally, half of First Nations people living on reserve — and one-quarter of First Nations in the country overall — need serious housing repairs. Another third live in overcrowded on-reserve housing, while nationally 20 per cent live in overcrowded homes on and off reserves.

Hamilton’s affordable housing crisis is not new. But if you have been following The Spectator’s housing series, which wraps up Oct. 19, you know that, and you also know it has gone from being serious to critical.

The million dollar question is: what can and needs to be done about it?

To start with, we need to understand that the crisis isn’t just about affordable housing. It’s also about what housing represents. Safe and secure housing is a social determinant of health. Lack of it has direct impact on physical and emotional health and stability. Medical, emotional and social outcomes tend to be better — much better — for vulnerable people when they have a safe roof over their head.

Housing is a human right, and should be approached that way. We should no more ignore affordable housing shortages than we would ignore clean water and decent nutrition. We have a collective responsibility to ensure human dignity is respected, and that includes safe and secure housing.