Refugee help good, now onto homeless

Since October’s federal election, great emphasis has been placed on the plight of Syrian refugees

Since October’s federal election, great emphasis has been placed on the plight of Syrian refugees; the new Liberal government ensuring Canada is standing up and being counted to assist in this humanitarian tragedy.

Ottawa tells us that 25,000 Syrians should be here by March 1, 2016, and at the end of next year the figure could swell to 50,000.

Plenty can happen in a year, but great efforts are being made by all levels of government, as well as private, business and religious organizations. That’s all very commendable, but there is another humanitarian tragedy right under our noses. It’s called homelessness.

Thanks to The NEWS for recent editorials and reports highlighting the plight of homeless people in our area. Being a small retirement community, the homeless situation is not always visible, nor forefront in our minds.

According to a recent nationwide survey, on any given night an estimated 30,000 Canadians are living in charitable overnight accommodation, or domestic violence shelters, or simply surviving on the streets; another 50,000 are temporarily staying with friends or family because there is nowhere else to go. The same survey asserts that most homelessness is caused by poverty, disability, addiction, mental illness and trauma.

Tent cities have appeared in several larger B.C. communities in recent years; Victoria has had a “moveable” tent city for a while, now “permanently” pitched on provincial land at the main courthouse.

Surely, all levels of government need to work together and think about creating permanent housing instead of tent cities.

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’ 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 on Syrian refugees.

Everybody will offer help, just as they are doing for the refugees; charity begins at home, after all.

Wishing Feliz Navidad, Prospero Ano Y Felicidad to all the staff and readership of The NEWS.

Bernie SmithParksville

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