Homelessness in Canada: Past, Present & Future

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1.Historical factors: How does the past influence the present?

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Such notion as homeless has appeared relatively recently, but homelessness as phenomenon has existed for many years and Canada is not an exception. According to statistics there are 157, 000 homeless people in Canada every year, while approximately 1,350 of them dye annually, half of this amount constitute homeless killed in car accidents (Homeless in Canada). Surprisingly, homelessness was not considered social problem until 1980s and this fact can be named as one of the reasons of the terrible state this issue has now. Yet, starting with 1950s, when cheap hotels that served as shelters for poor people were demolished because of the necessity to reuse this land for office buildings as a part of urban renewal. In the same period changes occurred in mental health institutions that had to undergo reorganization due to which many of the patients of such institutions were discharged not having a place to go to. Changes in labour market influenced the situation greatly as well as man power was no more in big need because of the usage of smart machines, which were cheaper to use, than paying wages to hundreds of workers (Why wasn't homelessness). All these factors led to increasing of poverty and number of homeless people, which became a real problem in 1980s.

2.Cultural factors: How does our culture, such as cultural values and beliefs, impact on the mortality rates of homeless people?

At the beginning of the 21st century the question of homelessness gained higher social relevance. According to the data collected at the start of 2015, since 1985 more than 740 homeless people have died in the streets of Toronto (740 homeless people). The situation in other cities and provinces of Canada is not better either. Therefore, it has awoken big interest and concern in the society. But what is the attitude of ordinary people towards homeless? Most people consider homelessness to be a shame and even a crime against safe Canadian society. Many Canadians see homeless as simple lazy citizens, who do not want to work, or as those, who are not worthy normal life. Unfortunately, citizens forget about the reasons why people come to live in the street as nobody does it voluntary. He statistics shows that the main reasons why normal people suddenly become homeless are childhood abuse, problems within the family, and alcohol and drug dependence. It is obvious that all these issues are social, not personal ones and this proves problems within the society which citizens need to solve altogether instead of isolating themselves in their well-equipped houses and blaming homeless in something all society is responsible for.

3.Structural factors: How does the role of government or particular forms of social organization shape the mortality rates of homeless people?

The situation is worsened by the fact that government does not take many measures to prevent homelessness or to improve the situation. There is even no exact data of the amount of homeless people in Canada or the number of deaths in the streets annually. a visiting professor at Ryerson University who used to work as a nurse in the streets of Toronto Caty Crowe complained that Weve got a system here [thats] almost like the Dark Ages. There is one volunteer-run group, which is somehow trying to change the situation - Homeless Memorial project. They make the lists of homeless people who die in the streets every month. The first date on this list goes back to 1985 and the data of all the years present the number of 740 deaths. The chair in homelessness, health and housing at one of the hospitals of Toronto St. Michaels Hospital argues that governments have to do more to prevent deaths in the streets first of all by providing better access to health care as well as mental health services for the homeless. Nowadays extension of such services can help to reduce deaths among homeless people as the main reasons of the high mortality rate are medical conditions (cancer, heart attack) for older people and injuries and drug overdoses for young citizens.

4.Critical factors: How can we improve the mortality rates of homeless people in Canada?

There are several ways of improving mortality rates among the homeless. The first has already been mentioned to provide more extended medical services as the reasons of most deaths in the streets are health problems. Living in the street does not bring anything good to peoples health, therefore care about the health state of homeless people should be question number one in policy for decreasing mortality. Another important point is to provide housing for the homeless as having no house is the root of all the problems which people living in the streets face. This issue looks more complicated than medical treatment, as many of the homeless tend to avoid shelters, provided for them by government or social organizations. There is one organization, which offers housing, which differs from usual options. It is called Housing First Approach and its advantage in comparison to others is that the main thing they care about is to give the homeless a place to live without any pressure upon them (Homeless in Canada). Such approach has already proved itself as an effective one and now it is time to try it in Canada.

5. Describe how social structures (i.e. government, community, and organizations) can reduce the mortality rates of homeless people in Canada.

Continuing the topic of ways to reduce mortality, it is important to mention some of the organizations, which seek to make lives of the homeless better. Among such organizations are food banks, which collect and distribute emergency food in the cities and surrounding regions. For example, due to work of Calgary Inter-Faith Bank only 14% of the homeless require food hampers for longer than ninety days (Homeless in Canada). Unfortunately, there are not so many of food banks around Canada and those, which already exist, cannot provide enough food for all who are in need. In the province of Ontario exists special service Second Harvest, which runs a distribution network working for delivery of perishable food around the clock. Moreover, it provides culinary trainings for the unemployed. One of the most important things government and local companies can do for the homeless is to give them opportunity to work at least part time. As the saying goes you can give fish to the poor and they will be fed for a day or teach them how to fish and you will give them food the whole life. This is what should be done in order to decrease the amount of the homeless and therefore improve the situation with the mortality rate. However, the main issue, which should be changed the attitude of the society towards the homeless as the first thing that makes them feel outcasts.


740 homeless people have died on Toronto streets since 1985... we think. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nowtoronto.com/news/740-homeless-people-have-died-on-toronto-streets-since-1985./Homeless in Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.charityintelligence.ca/homeless-in-canada

Hulchanski, D. J. (n.d.). Homelessness in Canada: Past, Present & Future. Retrieved from http://www.homelesshub.ca/resource/homelessness-canada-past-present-futureWhy wasn't homelessness a social problem until the 1980s? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://homelesshub.ca/blog/why-wasnt-homelessness-social-problem-until-1980s

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