Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada needs a housing strategy for mentally ill

  • Print

Ask any doctor or nurse who has spent time in an emergency department and they'll tell you a thing or two about the mentally ill and the homeless.

One of the first things they'll tell you about is the inordinate amount of time spent with people who opt to live on the outer margins of society. And they'll tell you many of them are the equivalent of emergency room frequent fliers, people who come back time and again due to real or imagined ailments that are somehow connected to their lives on the street.

They won't pass judgment, however.

Most are resigned to the fact they've pretty much become ground zero in responding to the needs of the homeless, when much of society appears to have thrown in the towel.

But they may provide an opinion or two on the subject of cost and whether taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck treating a problem as opposed to preventing one.

A study released by the Canadian Homelessness Research Network points out it's much less expensive to provide a place to live than it is to tend to the aftermath of homelessness.

According to the study's author, Stephen Gaetz, governments spend more than $4 billion a year dealing with homeless people -- money that could be better spent if there was a more unified approach to the problem.

He cites research by the Mental Health Commission of Canada that shows by providing support and housing to the homeless, taxpayers can save up to 54 cents on the dollar as opposed to the current patchwork approach that involves various levels of government, social agencies, the private sector and church groups.

What's needed, Gaetz argues, is a national strategy that would require federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as grassroots aid organizations to work together to address the issue, providing a solution and saving money at the same time.

A number of people will always be homeless, preferring to look out for themselves on the street no matter what aid is available. But there are those who would benefit from a national program that provides adequate housing.

The Harper government should take a lead role in establishing and implementing a nationwide strategy to take people off the streets and keep them out of Canada's prisons.

For a government bent on trimming costs and ferreting out efficiencies, getting a handle on homelessness seems like a no-brainer. It has the potential to save taxpayer dollars and makes long-term financial sense.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 2, 2012 A8

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Inside peek at Real Pirates, new Manitoba Museum exhibit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JJOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-Postcard  Day-Horror frost and fog created a most beautiful setting at Assiniboine Park Thursday morning in WInnipeg- Enviroent Canada says the fog will lifet this morning and will see a high of -7C-  JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Feb 18, 2010
  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Has the attack on Parliament hill shaken your faith in Canada's ability to protect its citizens from terrorist threats?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google