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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Will Government Cuts Cause Increased Deaths?

Anne Marie Batten grew up in Downeyville, early influences in her life prompted her to become a Street Nurse in Toronto, and Social Advocate, In this installment of Street News', Anne Marie writes of cuts to housing security programs that may cause increased deaths for those already marginalised by our economy and poor health.

Sounding Alarm Bells

Winter Reflections

December 21, 2012. - the first official day of the winter season. For street outreach workers, it is a day of reflection. Every year, I become very nervous about the lack of existing services and how our homeless community will survive the winter.

Last year at this time, prospects for shelter beds available that could meet the needs of our friends were few. The 'Out of the Colds' were working hard to bridge the gap in services. Sadly, many stayed outdoors last winter season and tragically lives were lost. Many of these folks chose to stay outside for various reasons...some struggling with mental illness felt unsafe going indoors, some chose not to leave their partners as couples can rarely stay together, some chose not to leave their pets, some feared the loss of their belongings by theft and others struggling with addictions could not go inside.

Street Deaths Reach Record Numbers

Here we are at the beginning of another winter and faced with a grim situation for our homeless and most vulnerable. This month, we added six names to the Homeless Memorial - six lives lost on our streets. By our records, we have not had this many deaths in one month since 2007. Tragically, this week, I have learned that our community has lost two more members.

Government Cuts Community Start Up Program and Maintenance Benefits

We are facing serious government cuts in January 2013. First, cuts to the Community Start Up Program. This program helps us secure housing for folks to move them indoors. The second part of these cuts is the loss of the Maintenance Benefit. Without the Maintenance Benefit, those who are marginally housed face losing their housing. It is difficult to comprehend how any of this makes sense when people are dying on our streets while waiting for a home.

Help Sound Alarm Bells

We have been sounding alarm bells within our community and to various levels of government. Sadly, I am not seeing headlines in mainstream media nor hearing the alarm bells that this deserves. We need to call this what it is...a crisis with lives being lost and we need to do better for 2013.
About Anne Marie Batten:

Anne Marie Batten,grew up in Downeyville-around here we know her as 'Joe O'Neil's daughter'. Have questions for Anne Marie?  Read about Anne Marie's work, or Connect with Anne Marie Batten on Twitter @AnneMarieBatten, LinkedIn  her blog Anne Marie Batten, or leave a comment below.We are pleased to feature Anne Marie's column Street News in Omemee Pigeon eFlyer.

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