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Homelessness and Signs of Poverty Increasing, According to PBO and Food Banks

A recent study reveals that homelessness in Canada is on the rise, despite the Canadian government allocating over five hundred million dollars annually to combat this issue.

According to the report released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), funds provided by Ottawa mostly go towards a program called Reaching Home, aimed at assisting communities in reducing homelessness.

The PBO report indicates that despite an average yearly spending of $561 million, there has been no improvement in the situation.

“Despite Reaching Home, homelessness seems to have increased,” noted the PBO report, citing a 20 percent rise in homeless individuals and a 38 percent increase in those considered “chronically homeless.”

Additionally, the report highlighted an 88% increase in the number of individuals living in unsheltered locations.

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A press release from Food Banks Canada, also issued on the same day, gave the federal government a D- grade for its poverty alleviation efforts.

“One in four individuals are facing food insecurity, marking the highest rate on record,” stated the Food Banks Canada release. “With the exception of Prince Edward Island, every jurisdiction has failed in the affordable housing category of the report,” it added, referring to the Canada 2024 Poverty Report Card compiled by the organization.

The CEO of Food Banks Canada, Kirstin Beardsley, expressed her concerns over the findings, mentioning a 50% increase in food bank visits since 2021. Beardsley emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts from all levels of government to combat poverty and food insecurity.

This discouraging news led to a heated debate during Question Period on May 22 between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre.

Poilievre criticized the government’s failure to reduce chronic homelessness despite significant spending, while Trudeau defended the investments made to address homelessness and support vulnerable communities.

Despite some positive outcomes highlighted in the PBO report, such as stable housing placements for thousands of individuals, the report stressed the necessity for a substantial increase in funding to effectively tackle homelessness.

Furthermore, the report revealed that federal funding constitutes only a small fraction of the total expenditure on homelessness, highlighting the significant contributions by provincial and municipal authorities.

Addressing the challenges associated with homelessness, the report emphasized the importance of providing stable housing as a crucial step towards preventing future instances of homelessness.

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