When two women living in an Ottawa homeless shelter tested positive for COVID-19 last spring causing an outbreak, Dr. Jeff Turnbull couldn’t understand how they had become infected.

But then he learned that, although they slept at the shelter each night, the homeless women worked as personal support workers during the day in long-term care homes.

“It turns out that they live in a shelter, but they work outside of the shelter. They just can’t earn enough money to afford Ottawa’s rental circumstances,” Turnbull, the medical director of Inner City Health, told Ontario’s Long Term Care Commission last month.

Curfew or no curfew, organizations working with Montreal’s homeless population said they would continue to serve their clientele around the clock.

Premier François Legault said Wednesday he expects all homeless people to be inside during the curfew. “There are enough spaces available,” he said.

However, James Hughes, president and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, said that while shelters will make every effort to respect the 8 p.m. curfew, outreach and overnight services are essential and must continue.

“Our position is that we will continue to run our services 24/7 supporting the homeless people through the day, evening and night so that they’re protected to the greatest extent that we can,” he said.

A group that advocates on behalf of homeless people in Gatineau, Que., is calling for a moratorium on ticketing near that city’s shelters and warming centres during Quebec’s provincewide curfew.

The overnight curfew, which is being introduced to help curb rising COVID-19 rates in the province, comes into effect Saturday. Anyone caught outside between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. can face a fine ranging from $1,000 to $6,000, with very few exceptions.

Homelessness is not one of them, and that concerns advocates.

If Laura goes to sleep in a homeless shelter, she could wake up convulsing and die.

This isn’t hyperbole. It’s alcohol withdrawal, which can happen to your body when you’ve had a substance dependency for long enough.

So Laura (not her real name) sleeps at a camp in the heart of Montreal’s Milton-Parc district, where she can manage her alcohol intake. But as of Saturday, it will be illegal for her to be outside after 8 p.m. Under the terms of a province-wide curfew imposed by the Coalition Avenir Québec government, she’ll be subject to a fine of between $1,000 and $6,000 if she is caught outside.

There’s another reason she’s scared to go inside. After an outbreak in Montreal’s shelter system, over 100 people have tested positive for COVID-19. About half of them are Indigenous and many among them already have severe respiratory problems.

Some neighbours in middle-class homes next to a new homeless shelter in London say they’re noting an uptick in drug use and crime.

The concerns were sent by email to CTV News one day after a news story about the success of the shelter.

The shelter, comprised of converted construction trailers, is located in the parking lot of the T-Building on Elizabeth Street.

In Scarborough, where COVID-19 test positivity now ranges to over 20 per cent, the pandemic looks different than it does in Toronto’s wealthy core.

Though help is expected, Scarborough’s recovery in 2021 will be longer and tougher, and these next winter months will be especially bleak.

Many people in Oakridge, in Scarborough’s southwest, don’t have the luxury of staying home during lockdown.

“Poverty is another pandemic,” said Sultana Jahangir, president of the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization, a group based in the Teesdale apartments neighbourhood.

A basic income program could have saved lives and reduced COVID-19 transmission when the pandemic struck last spring, says one of the country’s leading experts.

And basic income, as both a health and a poverty reduction policy, could still help people weather the second wave and those to come, said Evelyn Forget.

“When government decided that it was a public health emergency response and they closed down the economy in March,” said Forget in an interview, “they knew immediately that the social programs wouldn’t work, and that we had to put emergency supports in place if we were going to keep people home.”