Women's Rights in Canada
Ontario in 1884 and Manitoba in 1900 were the first two Canadian provinces to enact the Married Women’s Property Act. This act allowed married women to have the same legal rights as men, such as purchasing property. Gradually, the other provinces and territories also signed the act. This was one of the first significant improvements to women’s rights in Canada. Further changes in legislation initiated the process of decreasing gender inequality in the country.

The Precedent of the Married Women’s Property Act

Many of the rights that women in Canada now possess are recent acquisitions, especially since Canada is a relatively young country. Most women’s rights became implemented throughout the past 100 years. The Married Women’s Property Act was one of the biggest breakthroughs in women’s rights in Canada because it set a historic precedent that women could be independent in legal matters. Furthermore, the act allowed women to exist independently as separate individuals from their male counterparts. By allowing women to buy property, women gained the ability to possess something of value for themselves.

Achieving Women’s Rights

By 1918, Caucasian women had all gained the right to vote in federal elections. However, it wasn’t until 1960 that Aboriginal women achieved women’s suffrage as well. Furthermore, women were identified as “persons” in the name of the law, which gave them the right to hold political office in 1929. Cairine Reay Wilson became the first woman elected to the Senate in the following year. By selecting a female senator, women’s rights in Canada progressed even further because a female leader represented and spoke up for women.

Moving forward, there were many more victories for women’s rights in Canada. In 1985, the government outlawed discrimination against an individual on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation. Around the same time, the government also criminalized sexual assault within marriage.

Organizations Making An Impact

Two major organizations that support women in Canada are the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the National Council of Women of Canada.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is a nongovernmental organization that is committed to achieving gender equality. The organization implements social and economic strategies to do so. It specifically advocates for women of diverse backgrounds but is not limited to them. The organization funds programs dedicated to addressing the issues of violence, economic stability, women’s empowerment and leadership. Furthermore, the foundation’s mission reflects its dedication to achieving gender equality for all genders.

The National Council of Women of Canada addresses the welfare and improvement of the overall standard of life for women. The organization focuses on using research and education to empower women to make informed political decisions. This allows women to play a more active role in society and gain an equal position in important matters.

The Gender Wage Gap

Though Canada has made immense strides in gender equality, there are still many issues that the country has to address. One of these issues is the wage gap in Canada. The government made the gender wage gap illegal; however, women are still not all paid equally. This issue can be addressed by representing women in every field. Women occupy fewer high-paid roles than men do. By providing equal gender representation in career fields, the government will make large strides in addressing women’s rights in Canada.

Canada can push for women’s equality by setting an example and being active in women’s rights issues. The country has been successful in creating change and altering perceptions on women’s rights. Partnering with nonprofit organizations, such as the National Council of Women of Canada, will be essential in making Canada a leader in women’s rights and paving the way for future change.

Manasi Singh
Photo: Flickr


Since 1976, The Québec Association of International Cooperation Organizations (AQOCI) has aided in bridging different organizations together from 13 regions of Québec for the same mission. This is to promote international solidarity and human development. Today, AQOCI is helping 64 organizations reach their goals. It is doing this by supporting members, building strategic alliances and sharing work with members of government and the general public. In addition, AQOCI is unique in that it not only works within its own organization but also lends a helping hand to its associated organizations. The Québec Association of International Cooperation Organizations promotes solidarity and unity among all nations to create equality.

AQOCI’s Programs

“Global education is a high priority for AQOCI,” explained AQOCI’S political analyst Denis Côté in an interview with The Borgen Project. In terms of global education, AQOCI uses public engagements such as events and activities to highlight issues relating to inequalities and gender rights, poverty, education and environmental sustainability. AQOCI takes pride in its many programs. These programs not only educate Québecers on issues but also creates advocacy at a national and international level.

Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (DFEG)

AQOCI’S Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (DFEG) program promotes concrete change for women. It does this by committing to ensuring greater consideration for women’s rights and equality by constantly creating new initiatives. Such initiatives include its 12 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women. The 12 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women is a campaign that runs from November 25 to December 6. Each year, it has a different topic that events and social media campaigns discuss. The topics have ranged from violence against women and migration to violence against women and climate change. According to Statistics Canada, half of all women in Canada have experienced one form of physical or sexual violence starting from the age of 16. Above all, this is a statistic AQOCI is working towards drastically lowering.

Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D)

Similarly, the Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D) is a coalition that AQOCI is a member of that focuses on climate-related issues. C4D consists of a cluster of international development and environmental organizations. All of the organizations are working towards exchanging knowledge and implementing action plans regarding environmental challenges. In addition, Côté says that AQOCI has “lobbied the government for many years to try to create an ombudsman person position to investigate when Canadian companies especially mining companies, are accused of human rights violations and countries of the global south.” These types of actions help push forward coalitions such as the C4D agenda.

Looking Ahead

AQOCI focuses not only on the symptoms of poverty and inequality but also works on fixing the causes. In the future, AQOCI will continue to give “as much voice as we can to marginalized communities in the south,” says Côté. It will especially focus on women and Indigenous people. The Québec Association of International Cooperation Organizations promotes solidarity in all it does to help fight for those who cannot. When discussing what the public should expect from the future, Côté explained that AQOCI has begun to focus on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic-related initiatives from the organization will continue to work towards changing the world through collectivity.

– Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr

Canada’s Childcare FacilitiesOn April 19, 2021, the Canadian Government announced a new budget that includes increased support for Canada’s childcare facilities. The proposed financial support would reduce the average cost of childcare, granting the greatest benefit to Canada’s most economically vulnerable families. Though arranged by the federal government, the changes were advocated for by several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Child Care Now.

Government Promises

The government’s commitment to increasing childcare affordability is part of a newly proposed budget written to address the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new budget would allot $30 billion to childcare spending over the next five years.

The goal of the sizable expenditure is to nationally reduce the cost of childcare to an average of just $10 per day by 2025. If passed, federal money would be used in conjunction with provincial funding to subsidize Canada’s childcare facilities, thereby lowering the cost to parents. A portion of the $30 billion would also go toward improving the quality and accessibility of Canada’s childcare facilities.

Presently, costs for childcare vary widely across Canada. In Quebec’s cities, the monthly cost of childcare is less than $200 due to an initiative passed in 1997 that standardized childcare costs. Outside of Quebec, the average monthly cost can range anywhere from $451 in Winnipeg to more than $1,500 in Toronto. The high prices are burdensome for all Canadians, but particularly so for the nation’s impoverished communities.

Child Care, Poverty and the Pandemic

Though not the pandemic’s most obvious impact, a lack of affordable childcare has strained Canada’s economy over the past year. Some of the strain stems from Canada’s childcare facilities and schools being closed to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, many working parents, particularly mothers, have had to take care of children instead of working.

The pressure that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on women and mothers is reflected in Canada’s 2020 labor statistics, which show that women have exited the workforce at higher rates than men. In fact, the number of men in Canada’s workforce has increased by more than 60,000, while the female workforce has shrunk by at least 20,000.

Impact on Mothers

A large proportion of the women impacted by job losses are low-income mothers. A review of labor statistics found that among mothers ages 25 to 54 who had children younger than 12 years old, the mothers making less than $1,200 per week accounted for most jobs lost within that maternal demographic. Mothers in that group who made more than $1,200 per week actually increased representation in the workforce by almost 12%.

The same report also shows that mothers left the workforce at higher rates than other Canadian women in 2020. For instance, among women ages 25 to 54 who make between $500 and $799 per week, there was an almost 34% decrease in employment among mothers compared to a 21% decrease among women without children. This trend holds true for other earning brackets below $1,200.

While not all job loss among Canadian women can be attributed to maternal responsibilities, motherhood has clearly been a contributing factor for many women who have lost jobs during the pandemic. The fact is particularly true for low-income mothers who are least likely to have a job that will allow them to work from home. Without access to affordable childcare, mothers will continue to remain stuck between joblessness and caring for their children. The new Canadian budget and its advocates aim to solve this bind.

Child Care Now

One of the NGOs that gave support to the new budgetary spending on childcare was Child Care Now. Child Care Now is a Canadian nonprofit organization founded in 1982. The organization advocates for increased government spending on public and nonprofit childcare facilities. The nonprofit’s membership is made up of parents, childcare professionals and all parties concerned with the availability of accessible, affordable and safe childcare. Among the most pressing goals is the expansion of public childcare options throughout Canada.

On February 19, 2021, Child Care Now submitted a budgetary consultation to the Federal Ministry of Finance. In this consultation, Child Care Now made a case for increased federal spending on Canadian childcare, both in response to the impacts of COVID-19 and as an investment in the future of Canada’s childcare system.

Among the recommendations made by Child Care Now is the allotment of $2 billion in emergency spending to bolster Canada’s childcare facilities as well as the allocation of an additional $10 billion over the next three years to increase the access and affordability of public and nonprofit childcare options. When the government announced $30 billion in new spending on childcare, the response from Child Care Now was enthusiastic.

The Road Ahead

While the new budget still needs to be passed by the Canadian House of Commons, Canada’s investment in affordable childcare shows that the government is committed to the well-being of Canadian families. Should the budget pass into law, it will undoubtedly benefit the low-income mothers who have suffered the brunt of the pandemics’ economic hardships.

Joseph Cavanagh
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic brought hardship in many forms during the year 2020. Every country struggled to mitigate infection. However, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Canada is still prevalent over 15 months into the pandemic.

According to The Toronto Star, 10.1% of Canadians (3.7 million) were living in poverty in 2019. Data in the coming years may actually show a continuation of the recent trend of reduced poverty levels into 2020. However, there may be an imminent correction of sorts. The director of fiscal and provincial economics at Scotiabank, Rebekah Young, explained that government will likely contribute to the visibility of an “artificial drop in poverty” in 2020. Here is some information about the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Canada.

Unemployment rates in Canada

At the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment rates rose due to COVID-19 restrictions. The unemployment rates during the first few months of lockdowns were as follows:

February 2020 – 5.9%
March 2020 – 8.4%
April 2020 – 13.5%
May 2020 – 13.8%
June 2020 – 12.3%

As UBC Canada pointed out, the pandemic has exacerbated the disparity between high and low-income families. When this occurs, the cost of living generally rises. According to the report, “people in poverty are more likely to work in front-line and service” industries that COVID-19 restrictions most affected.

This reality is especially troublesome for such workers in Canada. The New York Times reported that fully vaccinated Americans could begin to enter certain public areas without a mask on May 13, 2021. This development is a promising sign as some industries continue to struggle amid COVID-19 regulations. However, Canada’s vaccination progress lags significantly behind.

Canadian Government Support Programs

While government support programs allowed for incomes of various demographics to rise during the majority of 2020, many Canadians struggled to maintain financial stability. Spending on recreational activities and even necessities declined for low to middle-income families as a result. Middle- to high-income families avoided the costs of travel and recreation, further widening the disparity between the two segments.

Across Ontario, food banks witnessed a substantial increase in traffic leading up to the start of the pandemic. Nearly 20% of food banks in the province saw an increase of 54% through the first four months of COVID-19.

Feed Ontario reported that one of the main causes of this continued increase in foodbank use is “precarious employment.” As of November 2020, Ontario saw an 8% increase in employed adults visiting food banks.

The Impact of Unemployment During COVID-19

To put things in perspective, permitted activities for Canadian citizens as of May 20, 2021, essentially consisted of what the average U.S. citizen was limited to a year ago. Outside of shopping for essentials and going for a walk, routine actions became restricted in accordance with stay-at-home orders for many parts of the country.

United States industries including food service have begun to recover as states allow limited capacity in restaurants. Canada’s food service became limited exclusively to takeout. Other sectors such as the entertainment industry have initiated a quasi-revival as movie theaters begin to house limited capacity. Establishments in the entertainment industry are seemingly a long way from opening in Canada. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Canada will continue to prove much greater as a result of industries similar to entertainment being severely diminished or in some cases obsolete for a much longer period of time.

“Around half a billion people could be pushed into poverty globally,” according to UBC Canada. A bigger share of this number is realized as the longer service workers and those alike are unemployed while the socioeconomic disparities increase as a result of COVID-19.

A Look Ahead

A sense of employment is shining through in 2021. Canada’s unemployment rate recently decreased by 0.7% to 7.5%, marking the lowest rate since February 2020.

After initially delaying the administration of second doses of COVID-19 vaccines for up to 16 weeks, the Canadian government looks to expedite those second doses to a population that has more than half of its citizens partially vaccinated.

In the meantime, the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program grants businesses “guaranteed, low-interest loans” up to $1,000,000. Started in January 2021, the program aimed to help the travel and tourism industries along with other industries the COVID-19 pandemic immediately affected.

Now, while the nation has a way to go to inoculate a sufficient portion of its population, Canada is providing more doses of COVID-19 vaccines per capita each day than the United States.

– Paolo Giannandrea
Photo: Flickr

University of CalgaryThe University of Calgary (UCalgary), one of the premier research universities in Canada, has been establishing meaningful global partnerships which have produced tangible results. While the university has multiple international campuses and partnerships, the successes of a few have particularly stood out. UCalgary’s global health partnerships with the Mbarara University of Science and Technology and other global health organizations are working to improve health in Uganda and Tanzania.

Healthy Child Uganda

UCalgary’s global health partnerships work with the Cumming School of Medicine. This allows medical students to gain experience and provide much-needed help in health outcomes and projects in Uganda and Tanzania.

One of UCalgary’s most important partnerships is Healthy Child Uganda. Healthy Child Uganda is a partnership between Mbarara University, UCalgary and the Canadian Paediatric Society, with some funding from other universities and associations. It “works with national and district health planners, leaders and communities themselves to develop, implement and evaluate initiatives that strengthen health systems and improve health for mothers, babies and children.” It is based adjacent to Mbarara University’s campus in Mbarara town, Uganda. The Healthy Child Uganda partnership operates in the districts of Mbarara, Bushenyi, Buhweju, Ntungamo and Rubirizi in Uganda as well as two districts of the Mwanza Region in Tanzania.

Healthy Child Uganda was established in 2002. Its multitude of efforts aims to improve health services in Uganda, especially in maternal and pediatric care.

The Impact of Healthy Child Uganda

Since its establishment, Healthy Child Uganda has partnered with local health authorities to train more than 5,000 community health workers for service in almost 1,000 villages in Uganda. Community health workers promote health in their villages, take part in development activities, spread awareness and monitor sick children and pregnant women to see if they need treatment. Healthy Child Uganda shares its training curriculum for community health workers online, providing valuable information to other medical providers. It is also a leader in maternal and child health research, having developed many different practice approaches that have provided models for many other organizations.

Healthy Child Uganda has also worked to combat COVID-19 in Uganda, with funding largely provided by the UCalgary. In the early stages of the pandemic, it was able to provide cleaning products, PPE, handwashing stations, fuel, hand sanitizer and hygiene soap. This was crucial in providing protection in Uganda before provisions came in from Uganda’s Ministry of Health. Healthy Child Uganda also worked to train frontline health workers in fighting COVID-19.

Mama Na Mtoto

The University of Calgary is also a valuable partner in Mama na Mtoto, a partnership that seeks to improve women and child health in rural Tanzania. Mama na Mtoto does its work in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania.

Mama na Mtoto performs many of the same functions as Healthy Child Uganda, just in a different location. It works with the government and existing health facilities to “support communities to adapt and lead activities and innovations that address their own health challenges.”

Mama na Mtoto plans activities that emphasize information and teachings about women and child care, from adolescence to pregnancy. This, therefore, helps to take the burden off of government health services and equip mothers with the best tools to succeed in places where there is little access to health information.

UCalgary’s Successes

UCalgary’s work in Uganda has had tangible results. In 2020, Bushenyi District was recognized as the best performing district for healthcare in Uganda. UCalgary helped this district under Healthy Child Uganda. UCalgary is also working with Mbarara University on another initiative known as HAY! (Healthy Adolescents and Young People in Uganda), which will educate youth on family planning, sexual health, menstrual hygiene and gender-based violence. The University of Calgary is showing how universities can be proactive and provide support that improves health in vulnerable areas.

Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

Canadian Food BanksCanadian food banks have been providing meals for those in need across Canada for the past 40 years. The more than 11,000 food banks in Canada saw a spike in clients in 2020, with a report of more than 1.1 million people going to food banks in March alone. Additionally, in 2020, 20,000 people a week used food banks in Canada, up significantly from 15,000 a week in 2019. However, food banks and donators have doubled their efforts amid COVID-19 to address food insecurity in Canada.

Food Insecurity in Canada

The 2019 Food Insecurity Policy Research report states that in 2018 one in eight households was food insecure. Moreover, in 2018, 4.4 million people ranged between marginal food insecurity (with roughly 1.5 million people), moderate food insecurity (with roughly two million people) and severe food insecurity (with roughly 500,000 thousand people) in those tiers.

Within the provinces, Nunavut reported the worst level of food insecurity at 57%, and the Northwest territories at 27%. The rest of the provinces, such as Yukon, faired a bit better at 16.9%, with the Quebec province being the lowest at only 11.8%. Additionally, 84% of those who reported food insecurity live in either Ontario, Alberta, Quebec or British Columbia.

Compared to reports in 2015-2016, food insecurity in the province of Nunavut rose roughly by 6% between 2017-2018 from 51% to 57%. In the Northwest Territories food insecurity rose by 7% from 20% to 27%, Yukon remained the same, British Columbia remained the same at 12% and Quebec went down 1% from 12% to 11%.

Food Banks’ Donations

In 2020, donations rose by approximately 5% in food banks across Canada, and they received over 24 billion pounds of food. It went up more than a million dollars compared to 2019, with a total of $24 million in food donations. In 2019, food banks received a total of $64 million of donations of all varieties, which was an overall decline from $54 million in total donations in 2020.

These statistics indicate 2019 was a drastically more prosperous year. However, 2020 saw an outflow of $56 million back to the people through other donated goods, money to other food banks and money donated overall back to the community. In contrast, 2019 only saw a $9 million return to the community.

In 2020, food banks had a higher return of goods back to the public than monetary donations, with over a $2 million difference. The demand is so high it begs the question of what is being done to help support food banks and Canadians in need.

Alternative Solutions for the Hungry

Canadians who may need to use food banks fall into several categories: people lacking the skills necessary for labor jobs within the Canadian market, the loss of well-paying blue-collar jobs, pensions not covering the basics, and inadequate programs to help those in serious need. Various reports have shown the several ways in which the Canadian government can better help those who are at risk of going hungry.

One way to address hunger insecurity is to increase investments in federal housing. Creating housing such as social housing that is controlled by the government results in capped rental prices, allowing vulnerable populations to pay rent each month at an affordable level. Addressing the higher levels of food security in the northern regions is another important goal. The Canadian Government should focus on areas such as Nunavut that have the highest rates of food insecurity.

Canada Child Benefit

Another way to provide more effective support to low-income families with children is to replace the current range of federal child benefits with a strengthened Canada Child Benefit. The Canada Child Benefit provides financial support to eligible families that have children under the age of 18. While the benefit does support households to a degree, it has not been seen as nearly enough. Moreover, the more funding given to families in need, the less likely they are to be food insufficient.

Thanks to the work of the Canadian food banks, thousands of people can enjoy hot meals. However, a sustainable solution to food insecurity must also include other solutions and government programs to eradicate hunger in Canada.

– Claire Olmstead
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Canada
While Canada is one of the world’s more developed economies, the country has had serious issues with its child poverty rates. Child poverty in Canada sits at the 23rd position out of 35 industrialized nations when comparing the gap between overall poverty rates to child poverty rates.

Facts About Child Poverty in Canada

In Canada, 26% of children— a little more than one out of every five children — suffer from childhood poverty. This number puts Canada in the bottom third of industrialized countries with child poverty, representing 1.3 million children. 8% of impoverished children under the age of 6. Furthermore, one-seventh of people in homeless shelters are children. One in every three food bank users is under the age of 18. These statistics illustrate the staggering number of children suffering from poverty. While Canada has been making strides to address the issue, it needs to do much more work.

Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty

Campaign 2000 is a movement that formed in 1991 over concerns that the government was not doing enough to address child poverty. It is a network of organizations that work on addressing poverty and issues children face across the country. The organization initially committed to eliminating child poverty by the year 2000 during an All-Party Resolution in the House of Commons. The pledge to end child poverty in Canada underwent renewal in 2009 and in 2015 and continued through this movement.

The group also works on advancing public and government consultations and making long-lasting changes through lobbying and advocacy. Campaign 2000 specifically focuses on ensuring that all actions are bipartisan and can be supported by everyone. Through all these actions, the group aims to raise the basic standard of living for all Canadian children so that none live in poverty and all can become active and contributing members of society. This standard includes affordable and safe housing. Finding ways to strengthen family support ensures that families can provide the best care for their kids.

Next Steps

While Canada has made progress throughout the past few years, there is much room for growth. UNICEF believes there are two main steps that the government needs to take.

The first is to increase transfers and tax benefits that go towards children and resources for children. By increasing the Child Tax Benefit to a minimum of $5,000, thousands of children in Canada would be lifted out of poverty. These children would gain the resources necessary to become active members of society and have stable food and housing.

The second is to create a formal definition of child poverty within the nation. By doing so, local governments should each create a strategy to eliminate child poverty in Canada. At a minimum, the goal should be to push it down to 5% to match the lowest level of any industrialized country.

Canada sits in the bottom third of industrialized countries in terms of child poverty rates. Canada needs to make a lot more progress, but organizations like Campaign 2000 are working toward it. Moving forward, the Canadian government needs to take a firmer stance when it comes to addressing child poverty in Canada and adapt policies and benefits in order to ensure Canadian children aren’t suffering.

Manasi Singh
Photo: Flickr

Programs Aiming to Curb Homelessness in CanadaOn any given day, there are 35,000 people experiencing homelessness in Canada. There are governmental policies put in place to alleviate people from experiencing homelessness but the policies are not enough to end homelessness. Here are a couple of programs that are working to curb homelessness in Canada.

The New Leaf Project

This program is a study where 50 homeless Canadians are given 7,500 Canadian dollars and their lives would be examined over the next 12 to 18 months in comparison to a control group that received no money. It has been argued that providing funding to the homeless population is not effective as it is assumed they would spend it on drugs and alcohol. However, the findings in this study say the contrary. The New Leaf Project found that homeless people spent the money on things they need and were able to secure housing faster than the control group.

It was also found that people who received the money had food security as well. About 70% of the people who received funding were able to find food within the first month and maintained greater food security for the rest of the year.

Another finding revealed that those who received funding spent most of it on rent, clothing and food. There was a 39% decrease in purchasing drugs or alcohol as well. Some people spent the money on other necessities like transportation whether it was a bike or for repairs to their vehicles. Some even bought a computer or saved money to start a business. The study only proved that when you invest in the homeless, they are more likely to spend money on things that can improve their quality of life.

Housing First in Canada: At Home/Chez Soi

This program was another study that tested the effectiveness of Housing First on Canadians back in 2009. Housing First, which originates from New York City in the 1990s, provides rapid housing combined with additional support for homeless people with mental health issues and drug addiction. The program achieved major success in New York City, so the people of At Home/Chez Soi wanted to see if the success can be replicated here in Canada.

Prior to the study, there were a few Canadian cities that had plans to reduce homelessness. However, there was a lack of innovation to push beyond just having shelters. There was also a lack of federal funding to focus on the root causes and preventable approaches to homelessness in Canada.

Since the launch of Housing First in Canada, about 70 Canadian cities have adopted the program and have helped over 1,000 Canadians find safe and affordable housing where many continued to stay after a decade. This study proves that “when communities use their existing skills and knowledge and combine that with a strong tool-kit like At Home/Chez Soi, they can help to address the needs of local populations and go a long way to curbing homelessness.”

An Overview of Homelessness in Canada

Homelessness was not considered to be an issue until the late 1980s. People did experience homelessness prior to that time, however, it was not as common as it is today.

The Canadian government did enact the National Housing Act in 1973 which provided social housing for low-income citizens, but social housing and other related programs were cut back in 1984. By the time 1987 hit, the government cutback caused a surge in homelessness.

By 1996, federal spending on constructing new social housing ceased and the federal government handed the responsibility for most existing social housing to the provinces. Like homeless people in many countries, homeless people in Canada rely on non-profit organizations to attend to their needs. All non-profits agree that “strategies to address homelessness must be tailored to each population group’s needs.”

Homeless people also rely on shelters for their needs. There are emergency shelters that provide shared sleeping facilities and some offer private rooms. However, these shelters expect clients to leave the morning after. Some shelters offer mid-term housing solutions and some have developed long-term housing units. These shelters also provide food, clothing, laundry services and references to other services or organizations. Other shelters offer counseling, legal assistance, harm reduction and advocacy.

While there are services available to help those experiencing homelessness in Canada, it is not enough to address the root causes of homelessness and prevent it from happening in the first place. Investing in the homeless is a viable option to help identify these root causes and end homelessness in Canada.

Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Canada
Mental health in Canada has become a bigger issue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada is fortunate to have the assistance of organizations and companies that are offering services to bring forth solutions that will alleviate the stresses of the pandemic and address ways to cope with mental health in Canada positively. One of Canada’s own pharmaceutical companies EmpowerPharm Inc. is creating a unique CBD (Cannabidiol) tablet to ease anxiety.

EmpowerPharm Inc. and Empower CBD

EmpowerPharm Inc.’s tablet Empower CBD is different from typical anxiety medications because it will not cause habit-forming behaviors or disability. Empower CBD will go through intensive clinical studies with departments like Health Canada. The tablet comprises synthetic CBD and will not contain any THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD is a better option because it gives medicinal effects without the high that usually exists in the THC strain.

Espri by TELUS Health

Canadian essential workers have access to a mental health mobile app called Espri by TELUS Health. The mobile app offers resources in mental health and wellness to various frontline workers. Physicians and nurses are just two occupations that the app specifically mentions among others that offer tools that center on the particular stressors that occur in their day-to-day work shift.

Trained clinicians who understand the needs of essential workers who need support in times of crisis created the Espri by TELUS Health app. The app features informative content, a section to build goals to foster positive growth and virtual sessions to connect in a safe and confidential space that offers therapy and educational support.

CMHA Bounceback Program

The Canadian Mental Health Association supports mental health in Canada through the Bounceback program. The program is possible due to a $1 million donation that has allowed Bounceback into Alberta, the Atlantic provinces and Manitoba along with other parts of Canada. The program can be tailor-made to suit an individual’s needs, helping youth and adults learn how to cope with mood symptoms, mental illness and unpleasant mental and emotional states.

Bounceback works on a national level in Canada and has helped “reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms by 50%” through cognitive behavioral therapy. The program is available to English and French-speaking participants as long as a primary care provider becomes involved.

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

Many know the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) as one of the best mental health organizations; it has made its resources readily available in all 10 provinces and one territory and serves over 1.3 million Canadians. CMHA believes in full recovery among all individuals of all ages suffering from mental health issues. About “[one] in [five] people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.” Meanwhile, before the age of 50, about half of the Canadian population will experience a mental illness, showing the importance of treating mental health in Canada.

The solutions to overcoming mental health in Canada are creative in all its forms through means of medicine, technology and health programs that all have one common goal to make the lives of many individuals better again.

– Amanda Ortiz
Photo: Flickr

Homeless Youth in CanadaThe plight of homeless youth in Canada is a recent issue in the public eye. The increased representation and awareness have garnered celebrity support, such as from Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. The married couple has committed to donating $500,000 in total to the cause. Covenant House Vancouver and Toronto, foundations dedicated to opening their door to the homeless youth in Canada, are the lucky recipients.

The Issue

The first majority study done on homeless youth in Canada, “Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey,” was conducted just four years ago in 2016. A recent study found that the youth make up around 20% of the entire homeless population in Canada.

These children often experience housing instability and child abuse prior to their homelessness experience. Once on the streets, children under 16 — around 40% of the homeless youth in Canada — struggle through increased adversity. Further, various forms of oppression often couple homelessness. A staggering number of these children identify as POC, LGBTQ+, and of many other marginalized groups.

However, organizations and philanthropists alike have stepped up to address this dire situation.

Covenant House

Covenant House is an international organization that provides support and aid for homeless youth in Canada. The organization’s mission statement is: “Covenant House launched a federation-wide initiative to design and implement a cutting-edge, data-informed strategy to help even more of our kids achieve meaningful, long-term outcomes.”

It especially focuses on offering services to members of the LGBTQ+ community, POC, and abuse victims. The organization provides more than just direct support for these young individuals. Covenant House commits to restructuring data processing regarding homeless youth, reviewing methods of information analysis and generation, and finding the best performance measurement strategies. The organization works toward short-term as well as long-term change.

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively’s Involvement

The serious issue of youth homelessness in Canada deeply struck Ryan Reynolds, a Canadian himself. In response, Reynolds and Blake Lively decided to donate $500,000 to the cause. The couple even matches donations up to $375,000 before the end of 2020 to encourage others to donate.

The choice of where the funds should go was a personal one. Reynolds has a long-time relationship with the Covenant House. The dedication they put into their work and the extensive impact they wield in the community inspired his “investment.”

In the interview done by Covenant House, he described the donation as an investment rather than a monetary donation into homeless youth in Canada. Reynolds stated, “The young people who pass through the doors of Covenant House more often than not have a story marked by extraordinary trauma. They are so much more than that trauma. They have so much to offer the world. Matching this gift is saying you believe in them. You believe in the power of compassion to transform the trajectory of a human being.”

The CEO of Covenant House Vancouver, Krista Thompson, expressed her gratitude for the donation and continued relationship with the couple. Thompson remarked, “Ryan and Blake truly understand that young people who are facing homelessness deserve unconditional love and absolute respect.” The money will be used to assist with youth experiencing homelessness and fund much of the research that is occurring to combat the issue of homelessness as a whole.

Manasi Singh
Photo: Flickr