Statement at the House of commons, on december 9th, 2011, regarding homelessness

Ms. Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga, NDP):  Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a group of individuals. We often see them on the street, but we do everything we can to ignore them. I am talking about homeless people.

Because of the economic crisis and job losses, their numbers are increasing. This summer, shelters were at 90% capacity, which is unheard of. Imagine how full they must be now that winter is here. And this phenomenon is not unique to urban centres; the number of homeless people is on the rise in my riding of Hochelaga, which is about five kilometres from downtown Montreal.

Despite the skyrocketing needs, federal funding is a third of what it should be. Several vital programs have been denied assistance. For instance, Cap Saint-Barnabé in Hochelaga needs more support. The government needs to deal with what is quickly becoming an emergency situation and provide funding to community groups immediately.

Here is my suggestion to government members: the next time they meet a homeless person in the street, they should look that person in the eye. Perhaps then they will understand.