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Today's housing crisis cuts across all parts of Canadian society.
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In February, the Liberal government launched consultations with Canadians on what should be included in the country's first-ever poverty reduction strategy. So far, the consultation process on a poverty reduction plan for Canada, however, seems to be attracting a more limited response.
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Today, May 17th marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) -- a global celebration of gender and sexual diversity. This year, 2017, the theme is focused on families. We know that family support is critical to the health and well-being of LGBTQ2S young people. We also know that not all LGBTQ2S young people receive support from their families of origin, and that the consequences of family rejection can have a lasting negative impact on youth.
"The need for a funeral goes beyond just dollars and cents."
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"It's pretty clear that the government is investing money differently."
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Budget 2017 earmarked a whopping $11 billion for housing and homelessness. There's no doubt this will have a big impact. However, these funds must not only build affordable housing, they must align with poverty reduction strategies and mental health and recovery initiatives if we are to truly reduce long-term homelessness.
When health care is positioned as a key way of managing social problems, we put enormous strain on the system. This forces us to be duct-tape doctors, trying our best to seal up the gaps in a patchwork system of inadequacies and shortfalls. Primary care in particular is perfectly situated to absorb the costs of poor social supports.
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Nothing suggested this person was dealing with serious issues: they wore the coolest new sneakers, played video games late into the night, and often would speak in a mix of Internet jargon and meme jokes. There was no way this youth could be homeless, I thought.
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When there are no beds, homeless youth often resort to sleeping in garages, in abandoned trailers and buildings or even worse, in forests and fields and other hidden places across the region. They are vulnerable to illness, emotional trauma, criminal threats and violence.
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A few winters ago, I spent one extraordinary night wandering the streets of York Region, experiencing first-hand what homeless youth from our community go through every night. Organizers wanted us to better understand what homeless youth in York Region face every night.
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Thanks to the hard work of humane societies and SPCAs across Canada, we have a lot to celebrate this holiday season. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies has just released our annual Animal Shelter Statistics Report, and it is full of great news for companion animals in Canada.
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The recognition of housing as a human right by Minister Duclos' office could be the turning point -- not just for how we view housing, but for poverty and other economic rights violations as well. To see housing as a right looks beyond the physical structure of a shelter to a number of other factors: access to sanitation, location, and access to services or employment, community, security of tenure, and cultural adequacy, as well as other rights such as health, life and dignity.
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Recognizing housing as a fundamental human right could be viewed as a dangerous proposition for many who treat housing as a business. It opens the door for lawsuits against both businesses and governments who fail to take the issue seriously.
We need access to safe, affordable housing now. The government must act. There is so much trauma and pain I could have avoided if I had only received the support I needed. I experienced homelessness for 1,346 days. I should have never been without a home.