The local health unit has thrown its support behind the idea of transforming the current Canada Emergency Response Benefit into a basic income for all Canadians.

At its June meeting, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit board members discussed and unanimously endorsed the proposal that has been put forward by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Medical officer of health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy says, during the basic income pilot launched in 2017, there was a great deal of positive feedback. The benefits are even greater given the COVID-19 pandemic as it has worsened the impact on people experiencing health inequities.

As measures to flatten the COVID-19 curve are implemented across Canada, many Canadians are not only faced with the threat of the virus, but also increased threats to their food security. However, these threats are not equally distributed. Communities in Nunavut have suffered from food insecurity disproportionately to the rest of Canada for decades as a result of historical and geographic factors, which are now being compounded by the logistical and economic challenges that accompany the virus’ spread across the country.

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.

A curious thing happened to Ottawa’s homeless population during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic: They became healthier.

Every spring, the city’s downtown shelters experience an outbreak of seasonal flu, colds and gastrointestinal illnesses that make lives miserable. The wave of illness has been as predictable as the ice disappearing from the Ottawa River.

But this year, it didn’t happen.

“We’ve had no gastro since Covid hit,” says Wendy Muckle, executive director of Ottawa Inner City Health. “There’s no colds, there’s no flu. We can’t even find people to test (for COVID-19) right now because everybody is healthy.”

Did you know, in Canada almost half of the homeless population is female. So before this pandemic was even on our radar, there was a homeless crisis in Canada. In Niagara, we’re facing similar homelessness issues. According to the Niagara Region, more than 300 people are homeless each night, with 125 staying in emergency shelters and 134 staying in temporary or transitional housing. Last year, YWCA Niagara Region served more than 500 women and 230 children, either providing emergency shelter or transitional housing support. Organizations like the YWCA are doing incredible work in the community to support women and children; there is no question about that. But what COVID-19 has shown us, is that our governments has failed to develop emergency protocols and policies that support diverse populations, especially women, in a time of crisis.

The fate of the 24-hour low barrier emergency centre at Pete Palangio arena will be decided next week.

North Bay city councillor Dave Mendicino is the chair of Nipissing District Housing Corporation and a board member with District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB), says the topic will be a key point of discussion during next Wednesday’s DSSAB board meeting.

“There are some options that are going to be presented to the board next week in terms of short and long term solutions to the low barrier,” said Mendicino.

A quiet and wooded setting off of Dunlop Street West near Anne Street in central Barrie has become a hub for some of the city’s homeless population.

Time is running out for these individuals. They have been told to clear out of Milligan’s Pond by Thursday, June 18.

In a written statement to Barrie 360, the City of Barrie confirmed Municipal Law Enforcement and Barrie Police attended the site on Monday to issue new notices and they will attend to enforce the order.

The City said Mayor Jeff Lehman added an amendment to the emergency order on May 28 to allow for people to camp overnight at Milligan’s Pond for up to 15 days. In the statement issued Tuesday, the City said given the state of the COVID-19 emergency, the purpose of this was to give enforcement agencies and social services time to get together and enforce the bylaws compassionately and help the people who are at Milligan’s Pond.