Hey, Hi, Hello!
Many of us are doing our best to manage the stresses of our new reality living through the COVID pandemic, we’re relying on government supports and community services to help us handle the isolation and anxiety. We’re turning to delivery services to help “plank the curve” by staying as isolated as possible. We’re requesting deferrals on our utilities and mortgages.
What many of us are forgetting though, is that we are fortunate to be able to take these steps for ourselves. For people who are homelessness, living in shelters or living in precarious housing, these challenges are multiplied.
We saw today, Minister of Community and social services, Rajan Sawhney post a photo to Twitter of an empty church with some gym mats strewn on the floor. This is Red Deer’s emergency shelter, it doesn’t comply with social distancing protocols or offer the people who are supposed to use the space any privacy or dignity. The UCP has argued that placing homeless Albertans in hotels is not an option, due to concerns about suicide mitigation, however one notable Political Scientist has pointed out that per a study done in 2015 (A longitudinal study of suicidal ideation among homeless, mentally ill individuals. Noel et al) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26518774 housing is not a factor in suicidal ideation and the goal is to prevent the spread of COVID19.
One confusing and frustrating factor in all this is that not only does the province have the ability to commandeer hotels for this purpose, hotels in Calgary OFFERED their space and the GoA refused, opting instead for a dangerous and insufficient approach that the government has provided no data to support.
One thing that may contribute to an increase in suicides during this challenging time is the recent cut to Psychiatric codes and the loneliness of self isolation, especially among low income or disabled people. Albertans are facing a challenging road for the next several months and this government seems determined to strip each and every one of us of whatever they can. Homeless, low income or precariously employed/housed and disabled Albertans have already been dealt a bad hand by this government through cuts to social services, changes to AISH payments and a lack of support, cuts to healthcare, education and other public services and now they’re being warehoused, abandoned and ignored.
While some of us are struggling with predatory behavior from banks and trying to access funding through the GoA/EI, others are struggling to manage increased costs associated with having food delivered to them because they physically cannot go to the grocery store either because they are self isolating or because they lack transportation and have nobody to help them. A challenge that is likely to get harder to rise to as the cost of living continues to increase. While some Albertans are disappointed by the cancellation of social events, others are left to make due without home care services that they rely on to help them cook their meals or maintain their physical health and well being.
If this government can reach into their pockets and pull out a couple Billion for a pipeline, I think they should be able to do at least marginally better than this for the people of Alberta. From Doctors and Teachers to our homeless neighbors. There is no excuse for this callous treatment.