It Could Happen to Anyone: Homelessness in Canada
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It Could Happen to Anyone: Homelessness in Canada

For approximately 235,000 Canadians each year, homelessness is an unfortunate reality. Here's how you can help

By Elianne Frederick, Summer Intern

Imagine living on the streets, with no place to go and no place to call home. For approximately 235,000 Canadians each year, that is their unfortunate reality. And while homelessness is a well-known issue, it is often forgotten about or pushed aside—until it affects us or our community.

It’s hard to imagine that, in such a prosperous place as Canada, poverty is one of the main causes of homelessness. One in seven Canadian live in poverty and are unable to pay for the necessities of living. Poverty isn’t caused by one issue and is instead a result of factors that include geographical location, unemployment, lack of education, social injustices, and more recently, the global pandemic.

Many groups of people are at risk of homelessness. For example, although Indigenous people only make up 0.8 percent of Toronto’s population, they account for 15 percent of the Greater Toronto Area’s homeless population. Additionally, Indigenous people account for 20 to 50 percent of the homeless population in large urban centres, whereas in Yellowknife and Whitehorse they represent a startling 90 percent.

The reasons for this unbalanced representation are both systemic and historic. Indigenous people have suffered significant trauma related to colonialism and residential schools. Unfortunately, this continues to affect many survivors and their families through intergenerational trauma. Today, Indigenous people suffer from racism, discrimination, lower-level education, higher rates of unemployment, and poorer health conditions, ultimately leading to them being more susceptible to homelessness.

Traumatic events can also impact a person’s ability to exit from homelessness, and the two factors are primarily connected in three ways.

  1. Of those involved in criminal injustice or substance misuse, or who use homelessness services, 85 percent experienced some sort of trauma as a child.
  2. Those who are homeless often become a victim of trauma or witness trauma on the streets.
  3. The loss of a home is a traumatic situation. Individuals on the path to homelessness have increased stress levels, which destroys their coping mechanisms, which could in turn increase the odds that they will become homeless.

The truth is homelessness can happen to anyone, in any given situation, for any length of time. People suffering from homelessness come from different walks of life, and many just need the proper support to get them back on track.

“Prior to becoming homeless, I worked as a journeyman roofer and had my own company,” says David, a client of a nonprofit partner of the CLAC Foundation, CLAC’s charitable arm. “To get back into the workforce, I needed a number of safety tickets. I was able to finish these courses with CLAC Training, paid for by the CLAC Foundation. This led me to a job as foreman for an interprovincial roofing company.” ‚Äč

With the help of CLAC Foundation, multiple programs have been dedicated to assisting homelessness and the causes of homelessness. The foundation aims to help migrant workers, homeless individuals, people in poverty, immigrants, refugees, and workers in the developing world. The organization receives a great deal of support, resources, and funding from CLAC.

Some of the programs the CLAC Foundation operates to aid those suffering from homelessness include Combatting Poverty through Employment Training, Removing Barriers to Employment, and Skills Training for People Experiencing Poverty. These programs aim to provide a high level of training that helps people adapt, learn, and enhance skills. The foundation aims to knock down barriers and provide meaningful employment to all workers.

To learn more, or to donate, visit the CLAC Foundation’s website.

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