Spirit of the season could help existing social problems

On any given night about 30,000 Canadians sleep in charitable overnight accommodation, or in shelters, or on the streets.

To the Editor,

Certain religious folk believe their icon was born in a manger, as there was no room at the inn for a homeless couple who came to Bethlehem. Images of that nativity scene are symbolically prominent at this time of year, but real homelessness has reached a crisis point two millennia later.

A recent nationwide survey asserts that homelessness is caused by poverty, disability, addiction, mental illness or trauma, and on any given night about 30,000 Canadians sleep in charitable overnight accommodation, or in domestic violence shelters, or simply try and survive on the streets. Another 50,000 are temporarily staying with friends or family, simply because there is nowhere else to go.

Surely, all levels of government need to work together, and think about creating permanent housing instead of the tent cities that have become prevalent in many communities. It would need a concerted effort to acquire disused public properties such as schools and hospitals across the country, then refurbish them into hostels for the homeless.

Ebenezer Scrooge changed his miserly ways, and cooked his Christmas goose in Charles Dickens’s wonderful tale of redemption. Now it’s time for all government agencies to say ‘What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander,’ and put as much focus and resources on homelessness as is put in welcoming Syrian refugees.

Canadians will offer help to the homeless, just as they are doing for the refugees; charity begins at home, after all. It’s time to put some Ho! Ho! Ho! into homelessness.

Bernie SmithParksville

 

To the Editor,

Up to 3,500 Syrian refugees are about to arrive in B.C.. Before the citizens of B.C. start patting themselves on the back over their generosity, they might want to reconsider their priorities in light of this ugly fact: for many years, B.C. has led all other provinces in Canada with the highest percentage of children living under the poverty level.

John D. MacdonaldNanaimo

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