Service providers in Vancouver are seeing an uptick in the number of homeless people from out-of-province.
It’s an unusual problem this time of year.
At Union Gospel Mission, they’ve had to turn people away, which is not something they like to do.
Turning people away
“It’s just a terrible feeling…”
In fact, spokesperson Jeremy Hunka says they’ve had to turn away three times the number of people from their shelter this July compared to last.
And a big part of that is people coming to B.C. from elsewhere in Canada.
“We’ve probably seen an increase over the last three months of about 50%, with an average of about 5 to 15 per cent of our shelter being people from out of province, mostly from Alberta.”
Hit by hard times
“These are in many cases hard-working people, but because of the downturn in the economy and the oil patch and in construction, they’ve lost work and they’re living on the edge…and in some cases, come to Vancouver, hoping to start new, hoping to start fresh.”
But despite an uptick in out-of-province homeless, the BC government doesn’t have any plans to address the issue with its counterparts across Canada.
Sending homeless to B.C.
The issue of out-of-province homeless was highlighted earlier this year, when the Saskatchewan government bought bus tickets for two men to relocate to BC.
Neither had ties to the province, and a review by Saskatchewan recently found nothing wrong with the practice, noting other provinces do it too.
But regardless of whether homeless people relocate here with or without the help of their home provinces, the B.C. government will be maintaining the status quo.
That means as long as they meet the same eligibility requirements as everyone else, new arrivals can apply for assistance immediately.
So while B.C. is not in the practise of buying bus tickets to help homeless relocate to other areas of country, it also won’t turn away people who have relocated here.