According to Lee Tunstall, homelessness is a social problem that “has been growing since the 1970’s” (2009, para.1) and has caught the attention of both the Canadian government and the general public (Tunstall, 2009) . Predominantly, the homeless are individuals or families with no permanent residence who also lack the resources or abilities necessary to arrange for their own adequate housing and living (Stearman, 2010). This matter affects a diverse demographic of the Canadian public. In 2003, the Toronto report card on housing and homelessness reported that out of 32,000 people who used homeless shelters, 15% were families, 22% were youths between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, 18% ...view middle of the document...
A Pathways Project study found that two out of three homeless people in the country suffer from a form of chronic mental illness for which they need treatment (Wells, 2009). Secondly, socioeconomic adversity includes shortages such as low education, job loss, and eviction (Bradford, 2009). Lastly, traumatic experiences such as domestic violence causing psychological trauma are a predisposition to homelessness (Bradford, 2009).
Aside from the main causes, the steady increase in homelessness is also due to the lack of effective and long-term solutions (Baum, 2007). Both the Canadian government and society have embraced an emergency sheltering model and social separation for the homeless rather than initiating a long-term plan with beneficial services to provide a dignified life to Canadians who are homeless (Muckle & Turnbull, 206).
According to a 2007 public opinion poll “ 80% of Canadians believed that homelessness and poverty are important concerns in Canada, while 46% felt that the government assistance programs were doing little” (Cassola, 2006). Homelessness is a street culture of violence, suffering, addiction, and dehumanization (Masters, 2006). These individuals are constantly ill and do not receive the essential health services and rehabilitation they require (Hwang, 2006). Often, the only healthcare they acquire is through the emergency department which is costly and ineffective (Masters, 2006). According to the Canadian Council on Social Development, the average cost of each homeless individual varies from 30,000 to 40,000 dollars per person per year (Laird, 2008).
It is absolutely necessary to rescue those in need and break the cycle of homelessness that many Canadians face. Homelessness is particularly a vicious circle for the youth without a stable home. The youth face a life of difficulties, a lack of a decent education, and encounter the high probability that they will remain homeless as adults (Masters, 2006).
Basic rights and opportunities should be provided to every Canadian. Canada is not living up to the reputation and obligations outlined by both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations (Bacquie, 2007) which both state that everyone has the right to “life, liberty, and security of the person”. For homeless individuals these basic rights, particularly security, are unattainable (Gerdes, 2007). It is necessary to set a basic level of economic safety and general well being for every citizen (Cassola, 2006).
Canada must strengthen the safety net, intended to provide protection to the vulnerable, to aid those with the greatest needs (Muckle et al., 2006; Bradford, 2009). Sheltering homeless individuals has been a part of Canada’s strategy to end homelessness. According to the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System, there are 1,128 emergency shelters with over 25,000 beds in Canada (Echenberg et al., 2005). Although it is a crucial part of the...