Tuesday, March 9 I spoke on a Members Statement in the Manitoba Legislature on the need to end homelessness and a plan to achieve this. My remarks (from Hansard) are below. After you have read my comments, you can click on this link to see our report titled "All the way home"
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, the best estimate we have is that there are 1,500 people experiencing homelessness at any given time in Winnipeg. This is from a street census done in 2018.
It is, however, likely an underestimate. There is evidence that the situation was worse this winter, with the widespread use of bus shelters all over Winnipeg by people experiencing homelessness starting in October last year, and recognizing that those experiencing homelessness would have a more difficult time this winter, because so many locations where they would usually go, are closed.
I began working with an advocate for those who are homeless, Nancy Chippendale. Together, we recognized that at the coldest time of the year, libraries, community centres, fast-food outlets and many other places would be unable to let those who were homeless come in out of the cold and warm up.
Together, we began a journey talking with many individuals and organizations in the community who are helping those who are homeless, and including those with lived experience. We compiled a report. It was released in two phases at the end of December and the end of January.
Those we talked with recognized that there are two approaches to those experiencing homelessness: to continue, as has happened under NDP and Conservative governments, and act in a way that will perpetuate homelessness; or to act as Medicine Hat and Finland have done to end homelessness.
Ending homelessness means finding a home for all of the 1,500 or more individuals who are homeless in Winnipeg, not just for a small portion of them. That is what our report put forward: a way to address the immediate needs of those who are homeless and a way to house all who are homeless now to actually end homelessness.