Homeless People in Canada

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Social hierarchy is characterized by patterns of social inequality in the society which is spread by the way wealth, prestige and power are distributed. Canada is one of the countries in the world with the highest rates of upward mobility. Few people in Canada control a large portion of the property which increases the gaps in wealth distribution. Around 10% of those living in Canada control half of all the wealth (Frankish, Hwang and Quantz, 2005) . This seems most people below the poverty line. This social hierarchy has had detrimental effects especially to the lives of the homeless. The social hierarchy has increased the mortality rates among this group of people. This essay will, therefore, look at the ways in which social hierarchy has increased the mortality rates of homeless people in Canada.

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Homelessness is a situation whereby an individual or family does not have a stable, appropriate, permanent or the means to acquire a home (Frankish, Hwang and Quantz, 2005). This can be caused by many factors which are lack of affordable housing, cognitive, behavioral and mental challenges, and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless, but the experiences can be unpleasant, negative, stressful and distressing. The health risk is one of the areas that affect the homeless in Canada. The two aspects of health that affect the homeless are an availability of medical supplies and access to health care. Though the illnesses of the homeless are not different from those of the ordinary people, the conditions they live in affect their overall long-term and short-term health (Hwang, 2001). Deaths among the homeless are mostly due to freezing, injuries, alcoholic liver diseases and substance abuse overdoses. Others include climatic conditions, exposure to communicable diseases, sleep deprivation and nutritional deficiencies. When these people are exposed to these conditions for a long time, they end up with chronic health problems that are dental.

It is now clear that the barriers to good health among homeless people are their lack of adequate, affordable, safe and accessible housing. This is usually linked to access to health facilities, employability, personal health and community support. Access to general health facilities by the homeless is difficult because they do not have health cards. Some cannot afford to pay for extra items that are not provided for by the provincial medical. Following up on the health of these people is difficult because they do not have permanent residences.

The Government of Canadas role concerning the health of the homeless is not well known. This is because the federal government only uses general laws to control issues to do with health for the homeless (Gaetz, 2010). While there is space for co-operative, co-ordinated efforts, more work is still required to be done by the federal government with the main focus being on health, housing, and employment. Responding to issues to do with housing and health for the homeless requires a careful collection of data about where they live and the health problems they are likely to face. Critics cite that there are certain principles in the Canada Health Act that are relevant to the homeless. This means that new health initiatives such as homecare should focus on this group of people as well. Other researches funded by the federal research councils can also be used to valuable understandings and contribute to a fuller assessment of what the federal government should do to protect the homeless in Canada.


Frankish CJ, Hwang SW, Quantz D. (2005) Homelessness and health in Canada - Research lessons and priorities. Canadian Journal of Public Health-Revue Canadienne de Sante Publique 2005;96:S23-S29.

Gaetz, S. (2010). The struggle to end homelessness in Canada: How we created the crisis, and how we can end it. The Open Health Services and Policy Journal. 3:21-26

Hwang SW. (2001) Homelessness and health. CMAJ. 2001 Jan 23; 164(2):229-33.

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