The federal Liberals have no interest in backing away from an election promise to spend more on affordable housing, says Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu.

As communities across Canada engage in a first-ever federally organized and detailed census of homelessness, pressure on the government to act is mounting as community leaders better understand the stubbornness of the problem.

The details of how much the government will spend in the sector next year will be outlined in next week’s budget.

It’s a confluence of events that began three years ago when the federal government began collecting information on people visiting shelters as a way to try to gauge the extent of homelessness in Canada.

At about the same time many municipalities were experiencing the heights of the problem. Shelter and food bank use was (and is) skyrocketing while a shortage of public housing and rising food prices combined to boost poverty levels.

Provinces, including Ontario, began to build plans to combat the problems that have only grown worse, fast. Ontario must act faster.

Now there are people saying that this is a good time to launch one or more pilot projects to really test the concept. My view is that this is well-intentioned but wrong. We have ample historical proof that doing a pilot project and evaluating it carefully is a fail proof way of ensuring that the real thing will never get done.

We don’t want to delay this action until the economy is in a different phase, and the political stars are differently aligned. Now is the time for bold action and Mr Trudeau seems like just the right person to lead it.

Universal basic income, in the world of public policy geeks, is a bit like drones in the world of techies. Right at the moment, it’s hard to tell whether they’re the trendy obsession of a few wonky tinkerers, or the future of the world. The idea is so simple and so grand that it sounds like something a teenager might propose—“what would happen if we just gave everybody free money?” And yet versions of universal basic income are currently being tried out in countries with the most effective and innovative public services in the world. The city of Utrecht, Netherlands, has just begun a guaranteed income program; Finland is undertaking its first unconditional income supplements. Canada is now set to follow them.

My exploration of this topic led me to some provocative writing by Vu Le, who is a writer, speaker, and executive director of Rainier Valley Corps, a capacity building organization with a focus on leveling the playing field for people of colour as well as small, grass roots organizations.

I was particularly drawn to a piece he wrote on his blog about “Trickle-Down Community Engagement,” and his writing became the catalyst for one of the workshops I am doing, aptly called “Avoiding Trickle-Down Community Engagement of the Marginalized.”

People on social assistance are judged as frivolous and immoral for making ethical purchases such as organic food, while the rich are considered virtuous for the same choices, new research shows.

“We as a society judge these type of purchases, whether it’s organic or fair trade, as being good things — they have this moral halo,” said lead author Darren Dahl, senior associate dean of faculty for the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

“People on welfare tend to be seen as undeserving of more expensive options and wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned cash,” he said. “People feel these individuals have not earned the right to make these kinds of choices.”

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) released their concluding observations on Canada earlier today. They gave Canada its marching orders to use international human rights across the board to address several areas of concern, including the lack of implementation and protection of economic, cultural and social rights (ESC) for the most vulnerable.