Emergency Pandemic Support for People who are Homeless Needed Now

December 30, 2020

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba - Manitoba Liberals are calling for immediate action to improve services for people who are homeless or who are facing homelessness due to evictions and pandemic measures.

A recent video showed Winnipeg police moving people out of a bus shelter on Portage Avenue. Manitoba Liberal Health Critic Jon Gerrard says that Manitobans should know that in daytime, many people who are homeless have no place to go.

"With pandemic closures, evictions and a growing number of people finding themselves out of work, the Manitoba government needs to act now to keep people safe and warm," said Gerrard. "The Covid-19 pandemic is an emergency for everyone, especially people who are homeless, or facing homelessness because they have been evicted or have lost their job. There are a few months of winter ahead of us, and we need to act now."

Manitoba Liberals are calling for four measures to be implemented immediately:

Improved Access to Daytime Warming Spaces

Many of the places people who are homeless often go during the day - malls, coffee shops - are closed due to pandemic measures. Manitoba's Emergency Measures Organization should rent and operate safe spaces during the day so people can get warm, get something to drink, and use a washroom. Empty businesses and community centres could both be used.

Rapid Access to EIA / Housing

90% of applicants should get EIA within 24 hours. Currently, it can take weeks for people applying to EIA (provincial social assistance) to get an appointment. Delays getting EIA means delays getting housing. The Manitoba Government needs to set a goal of getting 90% of people EIA within 24 hours of applying.

Seamless Assistance for Addictions Treatment

Individuals struggling with substance use and abuse need to referred to detox and rehab services, and the process of recovery is often derailed by gaps in treatment and support. Better mental health and addictions supports are required and the funds should be available under the $400-million Canada-Manitoba health accord, first agreed to on August 21, 2017.

A central web portal / dashboard with live updates showing available resources for people who are homeless and looking for shelter or a place to stay warm.

While people who are homeless do not have internet-enabled devices, the places that they visit do. People who are homeless, or facing homelessness, need help navigating where they can get help. A virtual one-stop-shop would make the need and resources clear.

Manitoba Liberals say the crisis in homelessness is years in the making and that the pandemic should be an opportunity to make permanent changes in the way the province handles poverty and homelessness. A recent Campaign 2000 report showed that Manitoba is, once again, the child poverty capital of Canada.

"There is a saying that a society should be judged by how we treat its most vulnerable people, and on that score, the Manitoba Government's behaviour has been appalling," said Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface. "As a society, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose by treating people who are homeless with dignity."


Phase 1: Homelessness in Winnipeg - Immediate Action Needed


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