New Brunswick Green Party MLA Megan Mitton says although the COVID-19 pandemic has created new problems, it has exposed some that already exist.

“Now more than ever there is a need to de-couple labour from income and ensure that everyone’s basic needs are met through a Guaranteed Liveable Income,” Mitton, who represents the provincial riding of Memramcook-Tantramar, said Tuesday night during a Green Party panel discussion on Facebook.

She pointed to the $2,000 per month that people, who have been forced to stop working because of COVID-19, are eligible to receive under the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

“CERB has been essentially establishing new benchmarks for what minimum incomes could be,” she said. “So, $2,000 a month is needed, I guess, to support someone — that’s what the government is essentially saying as a minimum stopgap — and yet people have been expected to live on much, much less.”

Pandemic day 50.

While many of us are tired of staying home, Zooming or having to wear a mask to go into a grocery store, we have also learned how precious home is, how to be creative, and how to help and support others.

We’ve also learned a lot about basic public health measures. In this case, staying home, physical distancing and frequent hand washing. Yet it is clear governments are not facilitating or insisting on these measures equally.

In Ontario, advocates had to fight for homeless shelters to be prioritized for COVID-19 testing. Mobile, on-site testing in shelters remains erratic across the province. In Toronto, the epicentre of homelessness in the country, with over 7,000 people in 75 shelters, the roll out of testing is slow and appears to be due to the shortage of isolation spots for people awaiting test results once tested.

Police and the city cleared a large homeless encampment overnight at the former Sir John A. Macdonald school — but not before offering a safer place to ride out the COVID-19 crisis.

City housing director Edward John said outreach workers spent a couple of weeks “building relationships” with encampment residents before the tent community came down Monday.

He said most encampment dwellers — around 10 — agreed to try out shelter beds or city-booked hotel rooms on offer. Others, especially those with dogs, left on their own. No one was arrested and there was no “conflict,” John said.

When the Prime Minister announced $100 million to support food banks and other community food programs during COVID-19, he was throwing aside everything we know about food insecurity in Canada. We know it is a large and very serious public health problem rooted in inadequate, insecure incomes. It cannot be solved by charitable food assistance. But in the announcement on April 3, which came after a series of innovative, generous and timely income support announcements for workers and businesses, Justin Trudeau called upon food charity volunteers and encouraged an expansion of programs that provide food rather than income for Canadians facing arguably the most extreme financial hardship during the pandemic.

Canada’s COVID-19 response has emphasized the importance of science in directing decision making. Yet, food charity, an old idea that has never been able to adequately respond to food insecurity in Canada, has been brought to the fore as a sound solution. The evidence-based alternative to food charity is basic income, and this is the time for its implementation.

Deal for 40 hotel rooms Cancelled at last minute due to ‘significant opposition’ from the community

As BC Housing announced plans to move homeless people in Vancouver and Victoria from large encampments to hundreds of hotel rooms and other spaces, a similar effort has faltered in Nanaimo.

Last week the BC Housing website showed the government had secured up to 50 spaces at two locations in Nanaimo, but on Saturday, that number quietly changed to just 13 — all of which are for women leaving violent situations.

BC Housing has confirmed the drop was due to a deal with a local hotel for 40 rooms that fell through before the contract was finalized.

To be clear, much of what we are seeing of the protests coming out the U.S. are images of militia members, MAGA hats, and fundamentalist Christians — all the worst elements of far-right American politics. And for many of these people, the main purpose of going to anti-lockdown protests seems to be to “own the libs,” which seemingly takes precedence over the basic biological drive of self-preservation. It is difficult to overstate the cynicism of pandemic protesters holding signs with the slogan “my body, my choice.”

But these are not the views of everyone taking part in the protests. The images and flashpoints of far-right stupidity are simply the focal point for an American mainstream media that is, by and large, hopelessly mired in partisanship. In American political discourse, what might be called the “left” has a singular focus to “own the Republicans” and “own Trump.” Basically nothing of what we see emanating from mainstream U.S. media attempts to explain anything.

A COVID-19 outbreak has surged among Toronto’s homeless in the last 10 days with at least 135 cases, the majority of which come from one shelter that houses refugees.

Ten days ago, there were 30 cases of COVID-19 among the city’s homeless.

But now there are 88 residents at the Willowdale Welcome Centre alone who have tested positive for the disease, according to recently released data from Toronto Public Health.