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Census data to reveal snapshot of how pandemic supports like CERB affected incomes

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OTTAWA — Canadians will get a look today at how government supports such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit affected incomes during the early pandemic.

This morning, Statistics Canada will release results from the 2021 national census that break down how many people received COVID-19 benefits in 2020 and how those benefits affected the bigger picture.

The income data consist of Canada Revenue Agency tax and benefits records and will allow for some of the most detailed analysis yet of labour and prosperity patterns during the pandemic.

Experts say the income data will form a complicated pandemic-era snapshot, with CERB likely skewing incomes for the very lowest earners upward, but skewing incomes for another large tranche of workers downward.

They say older Canadians leaving the workforce, younger Canadians gaining more labour mobility and a widening of the temporary foreign worker program are bigger, longer-term trends to watch out for.

Statistics Canada will also publish findings on the changing makeup of Canadian families, trends in housing and the country’s population of veterans and military members.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2022.

 

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Across Canada, cities struggle to respond to growing homeless encampments – CBC.ca

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On a patch of green space at the edge of a Charlottetown parking lot, Steve Wotton lives in a tent with his dog, Nova. The homeless shelter where he used to stay doesn’t allow pets.

“I’ve been on the streets since two days after Christmas, but I’ve been in shelters off and on,” he said.

Wotton said shelters make him anxious, and his dog is a source of support and strength when he’s feeling unwell.

“This is in the area where I should be or I kinda need to be,” he said.

“It’s tough. Some of it can be OK, but it’s very rough.”

A man crouches by his tent in a patch of bushes.
Steve Wotton said he was forced to move into a tent in Charlottetown after he couldn’t find a shelter that would let him keep his dog. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Across Canada, city officials are trying to figure out how to deal with the increased presence of homeless encampments.

In Vancouver, city staff began the removal of tents in the city’s Downtown Eastside earlier this week.

In Halifax, the city recently ordered people living in a west-end park to leave, and have said police could be called in to clear out those who remain.

In Montreal, several encampments have been cleared out in recent years, and the city is seeking to hire a liaison officer to help dismantle others that pop up. A city spokesperson said encampments are not a safe or sustainable solution to homelessness, and pose a safety risk, too.

Short- and long-term goals

Yet advocates such as Marie-Pier Therrien, a representative for the Old Brewery Mission shelter in Montreal, argue that simply shutting encampments down doesn’t help.

“We agree with the city that the encampments are not a long-term solution to the housing crisis right now,” Therrien said. “But we would like them to lead an effort … to provide affordable housing solutions to the people in the camps, because moving them around is not going to be a long-term solution either.” 

As the former United Nations special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha has studied the issue closely. She said city governments cannot be left to solve the problem on their own.

“Encampments are unfortunately incredibly common across Canada, in big cities and small cities. And this has really increased since the pandemic,” she said.

“That’s because congregate settings like shelters were deemed unsafe at the beginning of the pandemic. And already people were not loving shelters. They are violent places; they are institutions.”

While more affordable housing should be the ultimate goal, she said, in the meantime officials should ensure people living in encampments have access to things like clean water.

“I expect city and other orders of government to ensure that when people are living in encampments, they can live as much of a dignified life as possible, but that the end goal should be figuring out how to get that population properly housed,” she said. 

Journalists and onlookers surround a tent in Toronto during an eviction.
People living in an encampment at Lamport Stadium, in downtown Toronto, faced eviction in July 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Councillors in Kitchener, Ont., for instance, have approved a plan to provide support to encampments while coming up with a longer-term plan.

“The way I view people living in encampments is they are human-rights holders and they’re making a claim,” Farha said.

“They’re saying, ‘Hey, I have the right to adequate housing and there is no other place for me to find that’s right to live. And so I’m going to roll out my sleeping bag or pitch my tent here because I have no other options.'”

More shelters, more housing

In Toronto, there still aren’t enough spots in shelters to accommodate those living on the streets.

On a nightly basis over the past year and a half, an average of 40 people were turned away because of a lack of beds, according to data released earlier this month.

WATCH | Former UN rapporteur says encampments highlight need for affordable housing solutions:

Encampments highlight need for affordable housing solutions, advocates say

20 hours ago

Duration 2:03

With a tent encampment in Vancouver making headlines, some say the homeless encampments demonstrate the need for affordable housing solutions across Canada.

Doug Johnson Hatlem, a street pastor who works with people experiencing homelessness in the city, said the lack of space in shelters needs to be urgently addressed, but more housing is the only real solution.

“The only way out of this is to build good, solid, dignified social housing at scale,” he said.

Speaking outside his tent in Charlottetown, Wotton said he’s not certain where he will live when it gets colder later this year.

“This is my first time experiencing this,” he said. “I’m still learning as I go along.”

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Sierra Leone: 8 killed in anti-government protests

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Sierra Leone: 8 killed in anti-government protests

Freetown, Sierra Leone- Eight police officers have been killed in anti-government protests that erupted on Wednesday over inflation and the rising cost of living.

According to Youth Minister Mohamed Orman Bangura, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the capital, Freetown where the protests grew violent at times.

“We are yet to know how many people were injured, but I can confirm that eight police officers were killed. Those are not protesters. There is a difference between protest and riot and acts of terrorism (sic). Protesting is different from acting as a terrorist going against the State and killing young police officers.

This was well planned, calculated and financed by members of the opposition, All People’s Congress. Members of the opposition paid young people to come to the street to take over governance.

If the protest is a result of the cost of living, why is it not happening in all the strongholds of the current government? Why is it Makeni that happens to be the headquarters town of the opposition? Why is it not a nationwide strike? Out of 16 districts, why is it only in three districts that they (the opposition) think is their stronghold,” said the Minister.

Discontent has been boiling over for a number of reasons, including a perceived lack of government support for ordinary people who are struggling.

Long-standing frustration has also been exacerbated by rising prices for basic goods in Sierra Leone, where more than half the population of around 8 million lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

Earlier on Wednesday, internet observatory, NetBlocks said Sierra Leone faced a near-total internet shutdown during the protests, with national connectivity at five percent of ordinary levels.

The government has since imposed a nationwide curfew which was imposed on Wednesday in a bid to stem the violence.

“As a government, we have the responsibility to protect every citizen of Sierra Leone. What happened today was unfortunate and will be fully investigated,” said President Julius Maada Bio.

Footage circulating on social media showed crowds of demonstrators burning tires in Freetown and other groups of young men throwing rocks at security forces which have also been castigated by Vice-President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh

“These unscrupulous individuals have embarked on a violent and unauthorized protest which has led to the loss of lives of innocent Sierra Leoneans including security personnel,” said the  Vice-President.

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North Korea Kim Jong-un declares victory over COVID-19

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North Korea Kim Jong-un declares victory over COVID-19

Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)- DPRK leader, Kim Jong-un, has declared victory over the COVID-19 pandemic citing that the Asian country will soon relax its COVID-19 restrictions.

During a speech on Thursday, Kim hailed doctors and other health workers and asserted that the country had wiped out the pathogen within its borders.

“The painful quarantine war has come to an end, and today we have finally declared victory. (The government will immediately) lower the quarantine level from the maximum emergency quarantine system that has been in operation since May 12,” said Kim.

However, Kim said the country must still maintain a “steel-strong anti-epidemic barrier and intensify the anti-epidemic work until the end of the global health crisis.”

Health officials also said that the country was running intensive medical checks nationwide, with daily PCR tests on water collected in borderline areas among the measures.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) has cast doubts on DPRK’s claims, saying last month it believed the situation was getting worse, not better, amid an absence of independent data.

Since May, the country reported more than 4.7 million cases of fever symptoms, afflicting nearly a fifth of its population of 25 million. At its peak, it reported more than 750 000 fever cases in one day. It now claims just 74 fever patients or about 0.002 percent have died, which would make its fatality rate the lowest in the world.

Experts warn that these numbers cannot be independently verified, especially given the exodus of international aid workers from the country, which sealed its already-tight borders during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have hastily erected three makeshift hospitals in Tibet, after the autonomous region recorded its first COVID-19 outbreak. The new facilities provide 2 000 beds in the capital, Lhasa, and 1 000 in the city of Shigatse.

Tibet reported 28 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and has imposed a partial lockdown of Lhasa including the famed Potala Palace, the traditional winter residence of the Dalai Lamas, while it mass tests its people to root out hidden chains of transmission.

With the onset of the northern summer holiday season, and its international borders effectively closed, China is grappling with flare-ups in multiple tourism hotspots, and local officials are turning to the COVID-Zero playbook of movement restrictions, mass testing and surveillance to try to get the cases under control. The virus is spreading fast in areas including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Guangdong.

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