If you want to know what food insecurity is, Paul Taylor is the man to answer that question. He is the executive director of FoodShare, a Toronto-based non-profit that advocates that everyone have access to affordable, fresh and nutritious food. His personal experience has informed his life’s work: he was raised by a single mother on Ontario’s welfare system. He has worked as a teacher, in a Toronto homeless youth shelter and the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. We chatted with Paul about what food insecurity is, the link between racism and food insecurity and how Canadians can take action.

One in seven Canadians lived in a household where there was food insecurity in April and those living with children are more likely to be impacted from food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study from Statistics Canada.

The survey, which was part of the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series (CPSS), collected data from May 4 to 10 from 4,600 respondents in all 10 provinces. Of the participants, 14.6 per cent indicated that they lived in a household where there was food insecurity in the past 30 days.

The survey was based on a scale of six “food experiences” ranging from food not lasting until there was money to buy more, to going hungry because there was not enough money for food. Most Canadians reported only one negative experience, but 2 per cent reported the most severe food insecurity, with five or all six experiences reported.

Some of the residents in the area of the Super 8 Motel in West Kelowna have had enough. BC Housing has leased a portion of the motel to house the homeless. But residents are growing weary of the noise and open drug use and petitions are circulating aimed at shutting it down.

The petition targets the provincial government, the City of West Kelowna, BC Housing and the Super 8 demanding the operators find a “better location”.

40 beds have been secured at the motel by BC Housing.

When the city announced in April it would be reopening an extra shelter space for the homeless, it was expected to fill up fast.

Opening the former Branch on Royal Avenue was meant as a space for homeless people to better isolate during COVID-19. But that hasn’t been the case in Kamloops.

“I’m actually quite surprised because with many of our clients, when they get that extra money, they’re not so quick to spend it,” noted acting executive director of CMHA Kamloops Alfred Achoba. “They try to use as many services as they can, so I’m surprised there’s no huge uptick for shelter.”

Barricades have gone up at CRAB Park, a wall of pallets separating a tent city of the homeless from the road and whatever comes down it.

“The people who have left have moved back to the streets,” Fiona York, an advocate for homeless people, said. “The people here are maintaining a presence. Part of the reason the barricades are here is to provide a place for everyone here. We’re asking for housing for everyone, but also the people are here in recognition that this land is unceded territory.

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As Canada starts to slowly recover from the COVID pandemic, housing and poverty experts are worried many cities will see a jump in homelessness.

A recent study conducted by a Columbia University professor estimates that homelessness could grow by as much as 45 per cent in the United States due to a COVID-induced economic downturn. Experts in Canada say there is no guarantee the homeless population will grow as quickly here as it does in the U.S., but they have no doubt it’s going to happen.

The province of B.C. has bought the 75-room Paul’s Motor Inn on Douglas Street for about $15 million to add to its stock of temporary supportive housing for people without homes in Victoria.

It’s the second Victoria hotel B.C. has purchased this year to provide housing. Last month, it announced it had spent $18.5 million to buy the Comfort Inn and Suites at 3020 Blanshard St., which houses 93 people.