Temporary housing in motels and construction trailers has not slowed the growing need for more police response to crime and disorder, because homeless people with addictions and brain injuries remain in a “catch and release” justice system, leaders of B.C.’s 13 largest cities say.

“Together each of our communities are on the front lines experiencing the same impact of gaps in the health, housing and justice system,” Basran said Jan. 11. “Our most vulnerable are falling through the cracks. Municipalities have invested in supportive housing, funded more police and bylaw officers and created policies to increase inclusion in our communities, and yet more needs to be done and for that we need the province’s support.”

The majority of people who were homeless at the beginning of the pandemic are still homeless. No one really knows the extent to which homelessness has grown due to economic evictions.

People working on and living the issues of poverty and homelessness are witness to the downstream impact of the structural denial of social housing, a liveable wage, or decent social assistance and pension rates. They knew the writing was on the wall decades ago. (Nod to the late Bishop Desmond Tutu who popularized the “upstream, downstream” concept.)

A look at some recent disease history in Toronto’s shelters shows the decades of neglect that has led to the current collapse of the shelter system under COVID-19.

The bitterly cold conditions are putting anyone living on the streets in danger, which is why Barrie and Orillia opened emergency warming centres overnight on Tuesday to help those with no place to go.

The Orillia centre isn’t much more than a few chairs in a hallway, but those who took advantage of it were grateful to be out of the cold.

Statistics Canada’s new report, Canadian Income Survey: Food insecurity and unmet health care needs, 2018 and 2019, marks the release of new data on food insecurity — the first from Canadian Income Survey (CIS) — and an important step forward in food insecurity monitoring in Canada.

The inclusion of food insecurity monitoring on the CIS now ensures systematic, annual evaluations of food insecurity. Consistent monitoring was not achieved through the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) because jurisdictions could opt out of measuring food insecurity in some years.

Having consistent monitoring of food insecurity as part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy is important for the development of its policy interventions and the evaluation of its impact. We applaud Statistics Canada’s commitment to and progress in the annual tracking and reporting of food insecurity.

With 15.6% of people in the provinces living in food-insecure households in 2019*, this report continues to highlight that food insecurity is a serious problem in need of urgent action.

The heads of several Montreal homeless shelters say they’re facing a crisis, as rising staff absences due to COVID-19 threaten to disrupt services during the coldest part of winter.

There were outbreaks in 27 Montreal homeless shelters between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1, with a total of 110 staff and clients testing positive during that time, according to the local health authority in the city’s south end.

Michel Monette, the general director of CARE Montreal, says the city is “on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.”

With another snowstorm approaching Wednesday, city bylaw and police officers were disbanding another homeless camp in Nanaimo.

The Bastion Street Bridge in downtown Nanaimo has seen a growing number, around 25 people, using the bridge for shelter. But on Wednesday morning, bylaw officers and police cleared it out.

“We were basically all sleeping and the next thing you know the cops and bylaw showed up, telling us we had five minutes to pack up our stuff and get out. They started grabbing our stuff and throwing it away,” said James Brierly, who was among those who lost possessions.

Brierly said he had been staying at the homeless camp for two weeks and received no warning of the teardown.

When looking for solutions, choosing to focus on food insecurity, rather than hunger, moves the discussion beyond short-term food-based solutions, and closer to examining the root causes of this issue: a lack of income. This may be due to a lack of decently paid work, a lack of livable social assistant incomes, a lack of affordable housing, sky rocketing inflation and living costs, etc. A family is food insecure when they cannot afford to acquire food for themselves. No amount of food charity is going to change that. Food insecurity is an indicator of poverty. And poverty is the result of, and a catalyst for, many severe and interconnected issues that continue year after year, and generation after generation: hunger, addiction, housing insecurity, mental illness, unemployment, social isolation, and various forms of abuse. None of these issues exist in isolation.

Research has shown that…

Household food insecurity has no relation to the availability of food in the national or local food system. Household food insecurity is not necessarily a food issue, it is an income issue.

Food insecurity is tightly linked to household income. Households living in poverty will nearly always become food insecure at some point.

While food-based charity has been critical for staving off day-to-day hunger for many, it has not been shown to reduce food insecurity. (People still continue to need food charity, and keep coming back.)

The only measures that have proven to change rates of food insecurity are policies that improve the financial situation of low-income households.