Swanson noted that homelessness is difficult both for the individual and society at large.

People without a home have half the life expectancy of other people, “and that’s bad”, Swanson said.

She also noted that studies have shown that it’s more expensive for governments to support people on the streets compared to putting them in housing.

“So why is it that governments refuse to house people who are homeless?” Swanson asked. “And the only thing I can think of is that it’s prejudice and stigma and stereotyping, and somehow thinking that they’re less than other people, and they’re not.”

The number of Canadians who struggle to put good food on the table is increasing as a result of layoffs and the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, according to a new report that examined the impact food insecurity has on people’s lives.

The report, which was released Tuesday by the non-profit Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC), said that before the pandemic, an estimated 4.5 million Canadians experienced food insecurity, which the non-profit defines as inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints.

The number of homeless individuals being sheltered in Lambton County has more than doubled during the pandemic.

“We’ve been as high as 200, unfortunately,” said Valerie Colasanti, general manager of the county’s social services division. “We’re presently at about 155.”

The most the division saw in shelter in the Sarnia-area, before the pandemic, was approximately 60 individuals, she said.

“It certainly is an issue, and COVID really brought it to light,” Colasanti said.

A controversy boiling over in the Esplanade neighbourhood over a new respite site is the latest flare-up in tensions the city is grappling with as it tries to social distance homeless people in Toronto’s shelter system.

A new interim 24-hour respite site for 28 homeless males that opened in June on the Esplanade near Church Street has nearby residents, particularly seniors, upset and calling for its removal.

“I’m not a person who gets scared, but it’s the first time in 23 years that I don’t feel secure in my neighbourhood,” said Joyce Barnes, 76, who teaches meditation and lives next door to the site.

Six months in, thousands of families have lost loved ones to COVID-19. The economic and social toll of the epidemic has been crushing. We have seen heroic efforts by front line workers and support workers in long-term care homes, shelters, hospitals, and food service providers. Millions have made sacrifices to help limit spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

But here’s another facet of the epidemic: COVID-19 has cruelly exposed the long-standing inequalities in our country. Data from public health units across the country show low income households and communities of colour being disproportionately harmed by COVID-19.

As winter approaches and the COVID-19 pandemic drags on in the context of a city-wide drug problem, homeless Winnipeggers, and the organizations trying to meet their needs, are facing unprecedented hardship, including scrambling for additional low income housing and shelter beds.

Members of the City’s committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks heard testimony on Friday morning from social service organizations, all needing more resources and support to manage Winnipeg’s escalating poverty crisis.

Homeless people in the pandemic have been left behind. In March, the city stopped posting overnight shelter statistics (an indicator of crowding and lack of vacancy) until the Toronto ombudsman office intervened and an agreement they would post weekly was achieved. The city’s reluctance to enforce physical distancing in shelters meant that a legal coalition had to take the city to court to enforce two-metre physical distancing of beds, cots and mats.

The city’s mask bylaw for indoor common spaces did not apply to shelters, and a mask policy for shelter residents was only announced September 4.

Even in death, homeless people are left behind. The last death statistic on the city website is for January 2020, and is only from the death in shelter data set.