Government of Ontario sets 10-year deadline to end homelessness

October 29, 2015
Article Source
Toronto Star

Ontario is giving itself 10 years to end chronic homelessness, as recommended by an expert advisory panel.

"For far too long we have not challenged ourselves, as we should, to solve this problem. We have accepted it," Deputy Premier Deb Matthews said Wednesday. "Well, we are no longer going to turn a blind eye."

The panel, appointed in January as part of Ontario's second five-year poverty reduction strategy, was established to define homelessness and determine how to measure it; set a target to end it; and help implement "best practices" across the province.

The government is also adopting the panel's recommendation to focus on four key areas, including youth homelessness, aboriginal homelessness, chronic homelessness and homelessness following transitions from provincial institutions such as jails, hospitals, shelters, group and foster homes.

"Today we are taking a very important step forward. We have a plan, We know what we need to know. We are rolling up our sleeves and we are getting to work," Matthews said during a news conference at Margaret’s, a downtown Toronto drop-in for homeless and marginally housed women.

Among those gathered for lunch and shelter from the pouring rain Wednesday was Anne-Marie Garrels, a First Nations woman who was homeless for 14 years until a local program helped her find housing almost a year ago.

"It's about time," said Garrels, 41, referring to the government's attention to ending aboriginal homelessness.

In the short term, the province is earmarking $10 million over two years on initiatives to prevent and end homelessness, Mathews said. The money is part of Ontario's $50-million local poverty reduction fund.

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