A recent study by the COVID-19 Policing and Homelessness Initiative out of the University of Toronto mapped out the vagrancy-type offences that affect the homeless.

There are 217 bylaws across Canada containing 365 vagrancy-type offences, including infractions related to sheltering and loitering.

While panhandling is illegal provincewide, Barrie also has municipal bylaws on the books for things such as sheltering (camping or erecting materials such as tents, tarps or other covers in a public space), salvaging (collecting from recycling and refuse containers for personal use, to find edible food, or to collect bottles and cans with recycling value), obstructing (generally defined as bothering a pedestrian’s right to passage), and disorder (vaguely defined as behaviours the public may find to be undesirable).

Two additional city ordinances also prohibit loitering and resting/sleeping.

“Demand has been interesting,” he said.

When the pandemic panic first hit in March, approximately 100 people a day needed food, compared to the usual 70 pre-COVID.

“Once people realized there was financial support through different government programs, they were still going to be able to go to grocery stores and buy food.”

In April, May and June, demand started to dip, with some days bringing only 30 people to the side door.

“I think people are nervous. They don’t want to be outside and are finding other ways to get by,” he said. “I don’t think the status of your lifestyle changes how you feel about COVID — whether you are wealthy or live in poverty. There’s a concern about it and people are in self-isolation.”

After a surge in demand this spring and summer, food banks and other food networks are preparing for a possible second wave of COVID-19 and a corresponding rise in need.

But not everyone agrees on what kind of response is best.

Dan Huang-Taylor, executive director at Food Banks BC, said he expects another surge soon, and food banks are planning how to operate in unfavourable conditions. Many locations will set up tents and outdoor heaters and introduce ticketing and appointment systems, he said.

Back in March, the Ontario government announced an emergency top-up for recipients of Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program covering those who do not qualify for federal emergency benefits. The emergency assistance of an extra $100 per individual and $200 per family was initially a one-time payment, subsequently extended until July.

While the phone line to apply for the emergency assistance remains operational, Income Security Advocacy Centre lawyer Arash Ghiassi told PressProgress the government has not said if any extension is forthcoming.

“I don’t know how the government expects recipients to be able to cope with the pandemic without any additional support by August 1,” Ghiassi said.

In the midst of multiple deadly crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, the overdose crisis and the housing crisis, the City of Toronto is at the ready to evict yet another group of people who have been living in a public park together. The City has served people living in the Moss Park Encampment an eviction notice for tomorrow and threatened this group of homeless people with $10,000 fines and the destruction of their property.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should seize this moment and take an initiative to implement new socially progressive programs, like a universal basic income and a national pharmacare program.

Our country needs a Franklin Delano Roosevelt New Deal approach to some of our country’s socioeconomic ills.

Out of the Great Depression (1929-39) and the Second World War (1939-45) came social security and unemployment insurance, and in Canada’s case, family allowance (or the baby bonus).

Many of our European allies implemented universal public medicare (including pharmacare) systems in their respective countries long before Canada did. Now, hard times call for desperate measures.

There are more people sleeping on the street now then there have been in years.

That’s according to Eric Jonsson, a social worker and program coordinator for the Navigator Street Outreach Program, which provides support to motivated street-involved and homeless people.

“It’s the largest number of people sleeping outside in Halifax in the last few years that I’ve been working here,” says Jonsson.

He says some of the people who used to live in hotels are now on the street after a program that provided the temporary housing ran out of funding late last month.