Rima Berns-McGown, Ontario NDP critic for poverty and homelessness, said it’s shameful that the Ford government is quite literally leaving vulnerable people out in the cold ahead of plunging temperatures this weekend.
Last week, a 35-year-old woman got stuck in a clothing donation box located close to a drop-in she frequented and died. This week, a garbage truck hit and killed a 58-year-old woman who had been sleeping in a downtown laneway. Both women were experiencing homelessness and died trying to get or stay warm.
“I am heartsick and enraged to hear about people losing their lives in ways that no one should ever lose their life,” said Berns-McGown. “Homeless people are being evicted from tents they have set up under the Gardiner — but they have literally nowhere else to go. Every shelter in the city is full.”
Meanwhile, not only has Doug Ford’s government been silent on this crisis, but it is making life worse for some of the most vulnerable people in Ontario. The Ford Conservatives have axed rent control on new units, which will only exacerbate the existing housing affordability crunch. Ford cut the desperately needed ODSP and OW planned increases for 2019. He eliminated the Basic Income pilot, which was showing promise when it comes to helping people build stability. And by refusing to pitch in for social housing repairs, Ford is allowing units to crumble, and affordable housing wait lists to grow.
The NDP believes housing is a human right and will keep pushing for provincial investments in affordable housing, and provincial funding for a share of social housing repairs.
“Crisis doesn’t mean you hunker down for a few cold weeks and wait for the weather to get better so that fewer people die,” said Berns-McGown. “Crisis means you do everything possible to ensure that people are safely and permanently housed.”