The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a feature of our modern economy: the essential workers in our society are the lowest paid and have the least job security. Grocery store and pharmacy cashiers, personal service workers and nursing home caregivers were all required to keep working through the initial fear and unknown of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Silently and imperceptibly our economy has shifted from an environment where these workers and other low wage jobs shifted from permanent jobs with benefits to precarious part-time work with no benefits. Even if the hourly wage is above the minimum wage, with part-time hours the result can still mean living below the poverty line.

Like other provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador is currently looking to the federal government for financial assistance. Unlike other provinces, our debt-to-GDP ratio is approximately 85 per cent. That is largely unprecedented for a sub-national jurisdiction.

“We can’t cut and tax our way out of this, as this would have a devastating effect on the people of the province and on our prospects for economic recovery.” said Finance Minister Tom Osborne, as he gave the province’s dreaded financial update on June 4.

This is an astonishing admission from a political leader after almost a decade of cuts, on the part of four different governments and two different parties.

Edmonton’s homeless shelter system is scrambling to find space now that Kinsmen Sports Centre has reverted back to recreational use, clearing out the 180 overnight beds set up early on in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary overnight shelter has been running out of Kinsmen since late-March.

With rec centres allowed to reopen as part of the province’s stage two relaunch, The Mustard Seed pulled the beds out of Kinsmen on Monday morning, relocating to a church just off Whyte Avenue. But there’s only room for 50 beds there.

We share three observations from the early success of the COVID recovery site program to inform broader conversations regarding the long-term housing needs of the more than 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in Toronto.

1. Large scale solutions to housing are possible
2. Support all forms of care
3. Keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the horizon

The effects of COVID-19 could continue far into next year for some of north Durham’s most vulnerable populations.

Area organizations working to address housing insecurity are dealing with an increase in unsheltered clients and a looming tidal wave of rental arrears and evictions.

“We have seen an increase in unsheltered people in the north for sure,” said Jessica Robinson, program manager for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI), which assists people to secure and maintain housing.

Pre-pandemic, Robinson said the program, which is run by Community Living Durham North and serves residents of all three northern municipalities, generally saw about one unsheltered person coming in per week, but since the onset of quarantine measures, they have averaged up to three intakes weekly.

A six-month national basic income program identical in design to a pilot project once offered in Ontario would cost at least $47.5 billion, according to a new report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO).

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased calls for a guaranteed minimum income program, which proponents say would protect lower-income Canadians from financial challenges both during and after the crisis.

The amounts would be equal to up to 75 per cent of the low-income measure, calculated as half of median household income. In 2020, it is equal to $24,439 for individuals and $34,562 for couples.

The B.C. government has purchased a mid-island property to use as a temporary homeless shelter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the provincial government announced that it had bought the former Rose Bowl Restaurant in Campbell River to use as bridge housing for the local community.

Bridge housing is a temporary housing service that officers beds, showers, meals and other support services for people until they are able to find permanent supportive housing.