Homelessness raising concerns with community activists

by | Mar 11, 2016 | News


A social activist in Toronto says homelessness is a problem in places like Toronto with shelters at high capacity. This past week a report surfaced that Saskatchewan had issued bus tickets to B.C. for homeless men.  (Flickr/wonderferret)

Jessenia Feijo

A recent Saskatchewan government social services employee’s decision is raising concerns.

The employee reportedly bought two one-way bus tickets to British Columbia for two homeless people who were applying to the province for a spot in their shelter.

According to a CBC article, Caitlin Glencross, worker at the Lighthouse homeless shelter in Saskatchewan, said instead of getting funding to stay at the shelter, which has been locked in a funding dispute with the province, one of the men was offered a bus ticket to anywhere outside of the province.

After finding out his friend had gotten a ticket, the second man, after managing to get a bed at the shelter, asked and was given a ticket to B.C.

The second man has never left the province before, reportedly struggles with mental health problems and does not know anyone in Vancouver, his final destination.

Jennifer Amaya, Humber North campus Early Childhood Education student, said she was “disgusted” by the report.

“How could a homeless shelter send away two men, especially without doing a proper background check to see if they will have somewhere to go in a whole new area or another homeless shelter, somewhere near, with space and pay for a ticket there?” said Amaya.

If the staff had taken proper precautions, they would not have sent away a man who struggles with mental health issues and does not know the city away, she said.

Yogi Acharya, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) representative, said that if a shelter is at capacity, they will need to call referrals to see if there is space elsewhere.

Acharya, who is based in Toronto, said he wouldn’t be surprised if this situation were to happen here in Toronto because shelters are so full.

“Issues right now in the shelter system has been inadequate for quite sometime,” he said.

In a report titled Out In the Cold: the Crisis in Toronto’s Shelter System from last month, the city’s Daily Shelter Census confirms that the policy of keeping shelters at a maximum occupany level of 90 per cent is being disregarded.

From the same report, the extent of overcrowding, an alarming 81 per cent of people surveyed at Out of the Cold locations and Warming Centres stated that they had been denied a shelter bed because shelters were full.

“We need to adhere to the 90 per cent occupancy rule and open up Federal Armouries as emergency backups,” said Acharya.

After that, he said, it would be simple.

“Once these backups open up and we analyze the numbers, people who currently can’t find shelter, can find it and situations such as these would not happen as often, “ he said.