On Saturday, 1 August 2020 Jenniefer Stronge spoke again with Regan Sunshine Brussé of the Unsheltered Campaign. Regan provided updates on water availability: at one encampment a tap with fresh water has been provided, but at another encampment people are drinking from the river. A portable toilet has been provided by the Region of Waterloo at one location. Regan estimates there are still about 500 people who are unhoused, and winter is approaching. There has been very little progress since the start of pandemic measures in March. She says there are conversations about providing more affordable housing in the area. Regan would like to see the Region or a municipality provide an area of public land for an encampment with better facilities, so that people can be sheltered and maintain their social circles. People cannot be forced into shelter; facilitators need to speak with unsheltered people to find out what they want. There is a lack of trust in the system, and so some people may prefer to remain unsheltered. Today, people need to hide when they’re unsheltered because of opposition to the encampments. If we give unsheltered people a place to be it’s the first step to welcoming them back into society. Covid has shown us what we can do, and how quickly we can do it.
After receiving her social assistance last month, Regan Sunshine Brussé (@ReganBrusse), a local advocate for the poor, and currently unemployed single mother of three, looked into her bank account, to find it almost empty. Scotiabank, garnisheed the only funds she and her kids had left to handle the pandemic.
“Technically they’re in the right to be doing what they’re doing, according to our current laws.” Brussé said. After being contacted about the issue Scotia bank did return the funds to Regan’s account.
On this episode of CKMS News, we discuss impacts of COVID-19 on people who are on social assistance or otherwise have a low monthly income. We also speak about what banks and the various levels of government are doing to ease these impacts.
Along with Regan Sunshine Brussé, we speak with Laura Mae Lindo, the Kitchener Centre representative in provincial parliament and Lea Caragata, a professor of social policy at Wilfrid Laurier University.
This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” grant program and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, the Government of Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.