Wednesday, January 30, 2013

34 Homeless Deaths in Toronto

This post was supposed to get done yesterday but I did a bunch of other good things instead. It's something that's been on my mind for a while.

I might very well have missed something, but I seem to recall that when a homeless person froze to death in Toronto during the Mike Harris regime, there was a great hue and cry. We were shocked. We were saddened. Even elitist twits like margaret wente felt moved to offer [probably plagiarized] free market "solutions" to the problem they'd created. Because people freezing to death on Toronto's streets was something that hadn't happened  for quite a while. It was Jean Chretien's & Paul ("the last great Liberal") Martin's shutting down the federal department of housing and the slashing of social service funding to joint federal-provincial social programs, coupled with provincial downloading and slashing of services that had produced this tragedy.

I hadn't heard anything for quite a while and then, somewhere, on a passing radio or television perhaps, I heard that last year, 34 people died on the streets of Toronto. 34! And, that apparently, this is part of a fairly common death rate. I mentioned this to ephemeral but while talking about it I was uncertain that I'd even heard it right. 34 deaths! When 20 years ago, one or two deaths was a city, provincial and national scandal!

It doesn't matter if I'm right, and that 20 years ago we didn't have people freezing to death on the streets, or if I'm wrong, and this sort of thing has always occurred. It is simply unacceptable that in a rich country like Canada, that anyone dies on the streets, in the cold, because there's no decent shelter for them.

If this is the sort of society that we've become, it's as merciless an indictment of neo-liberalism that I can think of.


fem_progress said...

Been writing a blog post in French explaining why my small charity budget will go to HUMANS first and superiorly intelligent beings after that.

No SPCA. Natural species first.

fem_progress said...

We have mental health system shut-outs here in Montreal too. They don't vote and their relatives either don't care or don't know were they are. So hardly anyone cares even if in the long run the costs of neglect are higher.

I learned in economics class governement decisions assign an implicit value to human life.

No comment.

thwap said...

fern progress,

From the links and the homeless deaths memorial page, it appears that it's annually in the double-digits, the number of people who die on Toronto's streets every year.

There's a murderer stalking the streets, called poverty and it has accomplices: greed, ignorance and apathy.

double nickel said...

Are there no poorhouses? Are there no prisons? If only those homeless people would pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get steady jobs, they wouldn't have time to freeze to death on the streets.

Beijing York said...

I was away, out of country, for a few years and when I came back, I was shocked by the number of people counted as homeless or using food banks. Hell, I don't think I even knew of any food banks when I left Canada in January 1989.

Spending time in Asia, I thought that street people were something that only happened in what was then called the third world so I was shocked to find so many people begging and living on the streets in Ottawa when I returned. I had even done a 6 month stint in England, France and Spain and they didn't have the same level of homelessness that I encountered in Ottawa.

And somewhere in the 1990s it became the norm to have people living in the streets in every major city in the country. And food banks became a huge non-profit concern with lots of local boosterism. It all struck me as so weird given that this was a relatively new phenomena since the soup kitchens during the Great Depression

thwap said...

You'd think that when 34 people die from being homeless that we'd realize there's a problem and that it has nothing to do with the bad choices of the people dying.

fem_progress said...

Most homeless people have mental health problems.

They closed the psychatric hospitals and replaced them with nothing.

These people don't belong in prisons, which are already overcrowded. The police services are forced to handle them, but most homeless peole commit no crimes except being there.

What's a poorhouse? The hostels like Salvation Army are overcrowded most of the time and some homeless people are loners and don't fit well in there.

Basically what you are proposing double nickel is hiding the problem instead of solving it. Like when Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau had walls built in the 60s so people would not see the slums.

There are social reinsertion programs. The good ones produce results. it is a difficult clientele to work with so it takes a lot of time and patience... and budgets don't last long. And some hard conservatives like to cancel them and take the punitive approach, which is silly.