Some Pembroke residents are without a warm place to stay and The Grind is looking for solutions. There are currently no homeless shelters in the area.

One local resident is currently sleeping outside at the Farmers Market on Lake Street in Pembroke. The individual declined to provide his name or be interviewed for a news story. Executive Director at The Grind, Jerry Novack, says they’ve been working with this person for roughly 3-years.

Novack says The Grind is currently working with two homeless people in the Pembroke area. He adds they’re actively looking for solutions and trying to identify warming or comfort stations to get them out of the cold.

On the Friday before the Thanksgiving long weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraged Canadians to support their local food bank in a photo op at a Metro grocery store in Ottawa.

But in Toronto, Valerie Tarasuk was outraged. Canada’s foremost expert on food insecurity couldn’t believe the government was giving money to food banks.

“It’s craziness,” she said. “People like me spend all this time figuring this stuff out and then you watch these policy decisions and you think, ‘Why are we wasting our time doing this research?’ Nobody’s using it.”

This week, amid an outcry over the policing of homeless Montrealers sparked by a man’s death, one of the city’s biggest day shelters laid off 11 of its front-line staff—then promptly hired some security guards.

The guards aren’t meant to replace front-line workers, says the director of the Accueil Bonneau shelter.

But the move, according to many in the sector, is part of a longer-term trend that has accelerated during the pandemic and won’t be going away afterwards, and it has many social workers worried.

“This clientele often already has a bad relationship with people in positions of authority,” such as police and security guards, said one recent worker at Accueil Bonneau.

Indigenous people have been largely left out of Toronto’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans, according to several prominent Indigenous health leaders.

“We’re ready as Indigenous organizations and Indigenous providers,” said Dr. Lisa Richardson, a clinician who is also the University of Toronto medical school’s strategic adviser on Indigenous Health. “We really want to mobilize.”

But Richardson, who spoke to the Star by phone from an acute-care hospital ward where she cares for COVID patients, said she and others working in Indigenous health care have not received the strategic planning or other support they need to get vaccines to the highly vulnerable urban Indigenous population.

Just outside the shelter on Ste-Catherine St., Nogeeshik Isaac walked between the cars stopped at a traffic light, extending his styrofoam cup to collect spare change. No one rolled down their window or made eye contact with him.

The night before, police caught Isaac outside after curfew and fined him $1,500. He had nowhere to stay that night so he hung out around an overpass in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce until the officers spotted him.

“They didn’t offer to take me to a shelter, they just called me over and gave me and my girlfriend a ticket,” said Isaac. “Afterward they said they could take me somewhere to spend the night. But I just tore up the ticket. I was pissed off.”

“I mean, where the fuck am I gonna come up with $1,500? I’m a panhandler.”

With one site full and no one leaving, the city of London and a coalition of agencies have opened a second winter homeless shelter on York Street.

The second site at 415 York St. near the Men’s Mission will provide overnight shelter, three meals a day, onsite washroom and shower facilities and other supports for 30 people, the city announced Tuesday.

An open letter to Nicholas Simons, B.C.’s minister of social development and poverty reduction.

Many congratulations on your appointment in these fragile, unnerving pandemic times. As the NDP election platform and your mandate letter from the premier make clear, government policy on food banks is now your responsibility.

That means you have the opportunity — and responsibility — to reverse the province’s shocking embrace of U.S.-style food banks, which should be an embarrassment for Canada’s party of human rights and economic and social justice.