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'We're everywhere now': Meet the homeless in Canada's largest city – CBC.ca

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In a given year, 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness.

That’s a population the size of a small city. 

In Toronto, activists say there have never been so many people without a place to call their own. They use the word “epidemic.”

According to the Toronto Homeless Memorial Network, a group that tracks deaths among the homeless, 17 have died in Toronto since the beginning of October 2019.

The thing is, when people talk about the homeless it’s often in terms of numbers and statistics like the ones above — but the issue really hits home when you meet the people. 

The National’s Leonardo Palleja and Nick Purdon spent time with a number of homeless people in Toronto, here are some of their stories. 

Frenchie

Frenchie is 28 years old and has been living under this bridge in Toronto for the past six months. He says the people he meets ‘above ground’ judge him because he’s homeless. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

For six months, Frenchie (he says that’s what his friends call him) has slept in a tent under a bridge in Toronto — a few blocks from some of the most expensive houses in the country.  

Frenchie says he lost his restaurant job and had some bad luck, and after that things went downhill. 

“It’s a difficult life, but we survive. Every day we survive,” he says.

There are about 15 other people living in the makeshift camp under the bridge, a small community where he says he’s treated well. Above ground, on the street, he says people judge him.

We have a different life, but we are still human — we are not alien, we are still people.– Frenchie

“I just want to say to people, we are not that bad,” he says. “We have a different life, but we are still human — we are not alien, we are still people.”

It’s hard to know exactly how many Canadians sleep outside on a given night, but the best estimate is around 35,000 individuals.

Frenchie says he doesn’t worry that much about winter — he has plenty of tarps and blankets, and sometimes he lights a small fire in his tent to keep warm. 

Hear more from Frenchie:

‘Frenchie’ shows CBC reporter Nick Purdon where he lives in a tent under a bridge in Toronto. 0:39

Paul

At 43, Paul has been homeless for six years — ever since he lost his job framing houses in Toronto.

“I had a work injury and I also suffer from depression,” he explains. 

What’s remarkable about Paul is that if you passed him on the street, you probably wouldn’t realize he’s homeless. He doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of an entrenched homeless person many people imagine when they read statistics about the problem in Canada. 

Like the one that says 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year.

“It’s not just the bums you see on the streets — we’re everywhere now,” Paul says. 

“The vast majority don’t look like they’re homeless. It’s people who have fallen on hard times, got divorced, lost their jobs, got a work injury,” he says. 

Paul has been homeless for six years, since suffering a work injury. ‘We’re a rich country, there’s no reason for this to be happening,’ he says. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Paul says he’s lucky to have a bed at one of the city’s shelters while he’s on a waiting list for subsidized housing. 

A list that is 11 years long.

“We’re a rich country, there’s no reason for this to be happening,” he says.

Paul says not having a place to call his own takes a tremendous toll on his mind. 

“You have no hopes and dreams left anymore. You have no nothing,” he says. “People think you are nothing, and so you end up thinking you are nothing.

“You just eventually end up fading, fading away slowly.” 

Hear more from Paul:

Paul, 43, has been homeless for six years – ever since he hurt his back and lost his job. 0:11

Kevin Durance

Kevin Durance has become an unlikely activist. 

He fidgets on stage as he addresses a protest in front of Toronto city hall. 

“I know how hard I have to work just to survive,” he tells the crowd. 

Kevin Durance, who has been living in a shelter for six years, has become a homelessness activist. He’s seen here speaking at a rally in front of Toronto City Hall in December. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Durance has lived in a Toronto homeless shelter for the past six years. He knows how bad the situation is on the street, and he wants the city to declare a state of emergency and open more beds to the homeless. 

“It boils down to real humanity,” he says. “We’ve got to start caring about people.”

Activists insist high rent prices in Toronto make it hard for people who earn minimum wage or collect social assistance to afford a place to live. 

The number of people sleeping in shelters in Toronto has doubled in the past five years and now hovers somewhere around 8,000.

Still, Kevin’s wish is a small one — for people to see him and not look away when they pass him on the street. 

“They don’t see me, they see that stigma. [They think] I’m violent, I’m strange, I’m different — I’m just simple. I need someone to help me.”

Hear more from Kevin:

Kevin Durance, who has been living in a shelter in Toronto for six years, is an activist who wants the city of Toronto to create more shelter beds. 0:31

Scott

Scott used to run a small hotel in downtown Toronto. 

The day that closed, he lost both his job and his place to live.

He never thought he’d find himself living in a shelter.

“I always had money, I always had a job,” he says. “It’s getting to the point where I’m getting too old to get a job and my physical features aren’t what they used to be. Who wants to hire somebody with no teeth to go serve tables?”

Scott lives in the St. Simon’s Shelter in Toronto. He has a bunk and a metal chest to store his clothes. Homeless shelters were supposed to be temporary solutions, but now people like Scott live in them for years. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Scott hasn’t told his friends or family that he’s staying in a shelter, saying “I don’t want pity.”

He says all he wants is to get back to work full-time and have a place of his own.

“Just get back up there where I used to be, where I get up in the morning and I’ve got a place to go.”

Hear more from Scott: 

Scott used to run a small hotel in downtown Toronto, and when it closed he lost both his job and his place to live. 0:17

WATCH | The National’s feature and learn from those living it what it’s like to be homeless in Toronto:

Four men talk about being homeless in one of Canada’s richest cities. 8:29

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Canada ‘on the brink’ of coronavirus surge, second wave underway in some regions: Trudeau – Global News

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Canada is “on the brink” of a coronavirus surge as many parts of the country enter a second wave.

And it’s likely Thanksgiving gatherings will be out of the question as cases spike across the country following the recent lifting of many social restrictions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stick to their social bubbles, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from other people as the country faces down a looming second wave of the virus that has already claimed 9,238 lives.

Read more:
Trudeau dangles national childcare system in throne speech with few hints of fiscal restraint

In a speech to the nation on all major broadcasters Wednesday evening, Trudeau warned the daily case counts are already much higher than they were when the country first locked down in March.

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In Canada’s four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway.

“The numbers are clear — back on March 13th when we went into lockdown there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over 1,000,” Trudeau said.

“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”






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Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces


Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces

“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s — those were already decided by what we did, or didn’t do, two weeks ago,” he continued.

“But what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter. It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.

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“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control.”






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Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again


Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada can ‘bend the curve’ together again

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

The televised address pre-empted regularly scheduled programming on all major networks in a rare move that was billed by the Prime Minister’s Office as an opportunity to “address Canadians directly on the urgency of fighting COVID-19 as we face down the prospect of a second wave of the virus.”

But the address — both from Trudeau and from the opposition leaders who also spoke — took on an openly political tone and touting political agenda items in the government’s throne speech.

READ MORE: More than half of Canadians think coronavirus deficit too big but split on election need

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Trudeau doubled down on a pledge to keep spending even as more than half of Canadians report concern about the size of the federal deficit, currently at $343 billion from emergency spending.

He also pointed to government commitments to build towards a national pharmacare program and highlighting the government’s pledge to go further with climate change action.






1:47
Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians


Coronavirus: Trudeau says government will keep investing to ‘shoulder debt’ over Canadians

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also took a highly partisan approach in his speech, which was recorded from the driveway of his home where O’Toole and his wife are in isolation after contracting the virus.

“The situation facing my family shows that we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. Please be mindful of that in the weeks ahead,” O’Toole said before criticizing the government.

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“We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country. After four years of Mr. Trudeau, our country is more divided, less prosperous and less respected on the world stage,” he continued.

“Across this country, millions of Canadians have lost their jobs. Many fear losing their homes, and too many have lost hope. Mr. Trudeau says we’re all in this together but Canada has never been more divided.”






3:57
Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response


Coronavirus: Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calls for vigilance against COVID-19, criticizes Trudeau for response

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who has also tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation, also recorded an address.

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Blanchet spoke in French and stressed his party will not support the government’s throne speech because it does not do enough to support Quebec.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also spoke and said he understands that many Canadians are feeling worried about the impact the pandemic is having on their lives and their futures.

“I know that you’re worried,” he said. “And, I know you’re seeing the numbers rising and you’re worried about a second wave. I want you to know, like we’ve done throughout this pandemic, we see you, we hear you and we’re going to keep fighting for you.”






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Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed


Coronavirus: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says COVID-19 exposed problems, says action needed

He said the party plans to push the government to make concrete policy changes including creating a national sick leave and making sure those transitioning off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to a new model of Employment Insurance can maintain the same level of benefit payment.

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Singh has not yet said whether he will support the throne speech.

The Trudeau Liberals need the support of at least one other party to remain in power when they put the throne speech to a vote and both the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have ruled out voting in favour.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was “disappointed” by the speech.

“Alberta is disappointed that instead of listening to Canada’s provinces, the federal government doubled down on policies that will kill jobs, make Canada poorer and weaken national unity,” he said in a statement Wednesday evening.

-With a file from Global News’ Hannah Jackson

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada adds 1,085 new coronavirus cases as Trudeau warns of second wave – Global News

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Canada added 1,085 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, marking the fifth day in a row the country has seen a daily increase of more than 1,000.

The new infections bring the country’s total case count to 147,612.

Health authorities also said 10 more people have died after contracting the virus.

Read more:
Canada ‘on the brink’ of coronavirus surge, second wave underway in some regions: Trudeau

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Since the pandemic began, the virus has claimed 9,244 lives in Canada.

The new cases come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said some regions in Canada are already experiencing a second wave of the virus.

“In our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway,” he said.

Trudeau made the comments during a rare evening address.

He urged Canadians to continue abiding by the public health measures including sticking to social bubbles, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and continuing practicing social distancing.

“Together, we have the power to get this second wave under control,” he said.






2:57
Woman waits for 7 hours to get coronavirus test at Toronto hospital


Woman waits for 7 hours to get coronavirus test at Toronto hospital

The prime minister said it is “likely” Canadians will not be able to gather for Thanksgiving, but said “we still have a shot at Christmas.”

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Ontario reported 335 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, and health officials there said three more people had died.

The new infections bring the province’s total caseload to 48,087.

Since the pandemic began Ontario has tested 3,649,980 people for COVID-19, and 41,600 have recovered after falling ill. 

In Quebec, 471 new infections were detected, and health officials said one more person had died.

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Health authorities said three more deaths which occurred between Sept. 16 and Sept. 21, bring the provincial death toll to 5,809.

Read more:
New study finds 247 people brought COVID-19 to Quebec from abroad during March break 2020

However, 59,686 people have recovered from the virus in Quebec, and health officials have conducted 2,136,088 tests to date. 

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New Brunswick added one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, but officials said no one else had died.

The province has seen two deaths related to the virus so far.

A total of 191 people have recovered after contracting the respiratory illness, and 71,585 tests have been administered in New Brunswick.

Nova Scotia health officials said no new cases or deaths associated with COVID-19 had occurred.

So far 1,021 people have recovered after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, and 90,124 people have been tested.

Prince Edward Island saw one new case of COVID-19, marking the province’s first new infection since Sept. 16.

The new case brings Prince Edward Island’s total caseload to 58, however, 57 of those people have recovered. 

Provincial health authorities have administered 33,196 tests for the virus. 

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Coronavirus: Researchers identify the origins of COVID-19 infections in Quebec


Coronavirus: Researchers identify the origins of COVID-19 infections in Quebec

No new cases of COVID-19 were detected in Newfoundland on Wednesday, and provincial health authorities said the death toll remained at three.

Newfoundland has not recorded a new case of the virus since Sept. 18.

So far, 268 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 38,960 tests have been conducted. 

Forty-two new infections were reported in Manitoba, and health authorities said one more person had died after testing positive for the virus.

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To date, 1,238 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the province, and 170,045 people have been tested. 

Saskatchewan reported six new cases, but health officials said the death toll in the province remained at 24.

Thus far, 176,912 people have been tested for COVID-19 and 1,673 have recovered after becoming ill.

Read more:
40 people had a BBQ at an Ottawa park. Days later 105 people are quarantined for coronavirus

Alberta recorded 143 new infections, bringing the province’s total case count to 17,032.

Health officials there said two more people had died, pushing Alberta’s death toll to 260.

However, since the pandemic began, 15,252 people have recovered from the virus. 

A total of 1,242,263 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Alberta.

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Further west in British Columbia, 86 new infections were reported, but no new deaths have occurred.

Health authorities also reported five epidemiologically-linked, meaning they have not been confirmed by a laboratory.

So far, 6,769 people who contracted COVID-19 have recovered in B.C., and 483,979 tests have been administered. 

No new cases in the territories

None of Canada’s territories reported a new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and health officials confirmed no one else had died.

In the Northwest Territories, all five confirmed cases of the virus are considered resolved.

The territory has administered 1,673 tests for COVID-19.






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Throne speech: Payette touts coronavirus job creation, wage subsidy extension


Throne speech: Payette touts coronavirus job creation, wage subsidy extension

Meanwhile, Nunavut has seen three cases of the virus to date, however, each have been tied to workers from other parts of the country.

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The territory says the infections will be counted in the totals for the workers’ home jurisdictions, meaning Nunavut still considers itself free of COVID-19 cases.

The territory has tested 2,812 for the virus to date. 

All 15 confirmed cases of the virus in the Yukon are considered to be recovered.

Since the pandemic began, health officials have administered 59,686 tests. 

Global cases approach 32 million

COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China late last year. Since then, it has infected a total of 31,759,233 people around the world, according to a tally from John’s Hopkins University.

As of 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the virus had claimed 973,904 lives worldwide.

Read more:
Coronavirus took their lives. Here’s how their families will remember them

The United States remained the epicentre of the virus on Wednesday, with over 6.9 million confirmed cases.

So far 201,861 Americans have died after contracting COVID-19.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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As caseloads spike in four provinces, Trudeau warns that pandemic will be worse this fall – CBC.ca

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In a rare televised national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to the airwaves tonight to warn that Canada is at a “crossroads” as COVID-19 cases spike in some provinces, and with pandemic conditions in the fall expected to be worse than what the country endured when the crisis was just beginning.

Canada entered an ordered shutdown of economic and social life in mid-March, when there were only a few dozen new cases being reported each day. Now, with 1,000 new cases reported nationwide yesterday, Trudeau said there can be no doubt that four of the country’s provinces — Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec — are in the second wave of COVID-19.

“I know this isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. And we can’t change today’s numbers or even tomorrow’s … but what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter,” he said.

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.”

Trudeau said that while the outlook is grim, Canada has the tools it needs to blunt the impact of a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 9,200 people in this country.

“We have the power to get this second wave under control. I know we can do it, because we’ve already done it once before. In the spring, we all did our part by staying home. And this fall, we have even more tools in the toolbox,” he said.

Trudeau said Canadians must continue to wear masks where possible, limit social interactions — “It’s no time for a party” — and download the COVID-19 alert app so that those who test positive can anonymously alert close contacts.

“It’s a powerful, free tool that’s easy to use and protects your privacy,” he said.

Trudeau also sought to reassure Canadians that the government is working to procure the goods needed to get the country past this health crisis.

He said the government has signed billions of dollars worth of agreements to buy vaccines, therapeutics and personal protective equipment (PPE). Canada faced critical shortages of gloves, masks and gowns in the early days of the pandemic, after government agents failed to adequately supply the national emergency stockpile.

Beyond warnings about a projected spike in cases in the coming months, Trudeau used the second half of his 15-minute address to assure Canadians that the government will be ready to help them navigate the economic fallout — pointing to some of the policy proposals that were outlined in the speech from the throne this afternoon.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who responded to Trudeau’s remarks from isolation after testing positive for the virus last Friday, said the Tories have lost faith in the government’s response to this pandemic.

“The situation facing my family shows we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19. We must also be very vigilant for the future of our country,” he said. His wife, Rebecca, has also tested positive.

He urged Trudeau to push Health Canada regulators to approve rapid testing devices to ease the pressure on hospital-run testing centres that have experienced hours-long lineups in some parts of the country.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two antigen testing devices months ago — tests that can deliver results in less than 15 minutes — Health Canada has said it is not ready to put its stamp of approval on such tests.

Antigen tests — which, depending on the device, use matter collected from a nasal or throat swab — don’t require the use of a lab to generate results. The FDA has said such tests are a safe and reliable way to determine a person’s COVID-19 status.

“It is unacceptable that we trust countries like Japan, Germany and the U.S. with our national security intelligence but we don’t trust their approval of a 15-minute saliva test,” O’Toole said.

Government promises 1 million new jobs

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette delivered the government’s nearly hour-long address in the Senate chamber earlier today.

In that speech, the government pledged to create one million new jobs, extend the wage subsidy program until next summer, launch the largest jobs training program in the country’s history and begin to build a national child-care program to support working women.

The Liberal government also promised to push ahead with plans to create a universal pharmacare program with any provinces willing to take part.

Watch: Throne speech outlines Trudeau government’s plans for pandemic recovery

The government promised to pursue an ambitious environmental agenda to fast-track Canada’s efforts to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through home retrofits and infrastructure spending, and through tax incentives for companies building zero-emissions products, like electric vehicles.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived. This is not the time for austerity. Canada entered this crisis in the best fiscal position of its peers and the government is using that fiscal firepower,” the government said in the speech.

The Bloc Québécois and Conservative parties promised Wednesday to vote against the speech.

If NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his caucus also vote against the speech, Canadians will be headed to the polls for a fall federal election.

Singh told reporters that he had not yet decided how his caucus will vote when it’s given the chance in the Commons in the days ahead.

“We’re going to take a lot of time to consider the throne speech and make sure we evaluate it and make a decision around whether we’re supporting or not,” he said.

He said he’s troubled by the Liberals’ pitch to do away with the Canadian emergency relief benefit (CERB) in favour of a revamped Employment Insurance (EI) system, warning it could hurt workers who have been forced to stay home because of the pandemic.

Conservatives say no

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said the Tories cannot support the speech because it doesn’t address a major issue: Western alienation and national unity.

The speech said little about the oil and gas sector — an industry that has been hit hard by sinking oil prices and dwindling demand, leaving thousands jobless.

“There were no words that said, ‘We value natural resources, we value our forestry workers, we value our agricultural sector.’ They should have said all that and they didn’t. We were hoping for something better,” she said. “Conservatives continue to be the only party standing up for the West.”

The speech included big-ticket spending promises with no plan to pay for them — which Bergen dismissed as irresponsible.

“They’re still talking about how budgets will balance themselves, so it’s very, very concerning,” Bergen said, citing Trudeau’s claim from years back that a growing economy would reduce federal deficits.

Bergen said the speech offered little new material — “just grand gestures and empty promises” — and the prorogation of Parliament to deliver the speech was a naked attempt to shield the Liberal government from further parliamentary inquiry into the WE Charity scandal.

Asked if it was responsible to push Canadians closer to an election during a pandemic, Bergen said Canada is a democracy and Tories have the right to vote against a speech that fails to address their priorities.

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