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Ending homeless deaths in Canada

Canadian PoliticsHuman Rights

The average life expectancy of a homeless person in Canada is a 39 years old for women, and 46 years old for men. Photo: OCAP website.

The following statement was published by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. We follow the statement with a powerful poem by Don Weitz.

A homeless man named Richard Ian Kenyon was found dead at the busy corner of Carlton and Church outside of the Loblaws in Toronto on Monday, December 23, around noon.

Richard was a part of the Downtown East Community. He was in his early 50s, was homeless and stayed at a local shelter.

While we do not know what Richard’s last day looked like, we do know that he was lying dead at a busy intersection of the City during the middle of the day.

We know for a fact that on a busy shopping day just before Christmas many people must have walked by him and did what is all too common place - they chose to ignore a person lying on the ground.

We also know that Loblaws raked in an exorbitant amount of money that day, while a man with nothing material to speak of, died just out front of their flagship store.

We also know that winter is a deadly season for many people who are homeless and that there are not enough resources and safe warm places for people to go during the day or at night.

  • The average life expectancy of a person who is homeless in Canada is a shocking 39 years old for women, and 46 years old for men.

  • Homeless men are 8 times more likely to die than men of the same age in the general population.

These deaths, of people well before their time, are preventable. The chronic lack of affordable, accessible and safe housing, the lack of an adequate income, the lack of sufficient programs and services, all contribute to the high mortality rates among homeless and underhoused people.

As a result of these government decisions to prioritize profit over human lives, our communities experience loss at a rapid rate.

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) organised a remembrance ceremony for Richard and all those who have died too soon. Join in calling for action on homelessness – everyone deserves safe, affordable, and accessible housing.

Everyone deserves enough income to live with health and dignity. Everyone deserves a warm place to rest in the day-time. Everyone deserves a chance to live out their life to the fullest.


(a rant in progress) by Don Weitz

I see you I hear you on george & gerrard I see you I hear you in and out of satan house (1) barred from the schoolhouse save the schoolhouse-save the schoolhouse! another homeless shelter the city wants to shut down I see you I hear you panhandling on queen and spadina I see you I hear you freaking out on queen and dufferin at CAMH on queen and ossington (2) I see you I hear you harassed by RioCan security guards while panhandling at yonge & eglinton I see you I hear you at church and wellesley mad with your voices I see you I hear you evicted on sherbourne and dundas I see you I hear you harassed by cops on king and university I see you I hear you black brothers stopped walking or driving at jane & finch I see you panning at bay and king barred for sleeping outside city hall I see you I hear you at parliament and gerrard I see you I hear you at bloor and spadina I see you I hear you at danforth and broadview I see you I hear you at bloor and bathurst I see you I hear you at queen’s park where mpps and ministers of inaction & lies are deaf and blind to your poverty & misery I see you I hear you in Hamilton home of big steal I see you I hear you in Ottawa bastion of bigotry, hypocrisy, official lies I see you I hear you in Sudbury where union brothers and sisters reach out to us I see you I hear in Winnipeg where first nations brothers are arrested-and-jailed-shot at for drinking, driving, marching with visions of a First Nations general strike I hear you I see you in Red Deer where big oil threatens your land, health and lives I see you I hear you in Churchill freezing your ass off at 40 below I see you I hear you in Vancouver’s downtown east side stoned mad as hell getting clean insite needles to survive I hear you I see you in Whitehorse I see you I hear you on Nunavut where polar bears are iceless & homeless OH KANATA I see you I hear you nameless-homeless brothers and sisters all over this fucking stolen land where harper mcguinty, ford the opp the surete du quebec the rcmp solve homelessness with their final solutions: mass evictions mass arrests riot squads kettling pepper spray tasers tear gas charging horses criminal records for DEMANDING OUR RIGHT TO HOUSING criminal records for STANDING UP FOR OUR HUMAN RIGHTS criminal records for SHOUTING NO JUSTICE-NO PEACE on parliament hill in queen’s park in city hall SAVE THE SCHOOLHOUSE, SAVE THE SCHOOLHOUSE


Notes 1. Actual name is Seaton House, an overcrowded, disease-ridden men’s shelter in Toronto’s east end. 2. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto’s notorious psychoprison.

Biographical note: Don Weitz is a psychiatric survivor, antipsychiatry and social justice activist, and author of the e-book Rise Up/Fight Back:Selected Writings of an Antipsychiatry Activist.


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