Media Advisory – Canadian Homeless Women Face Serious Hurdles: Forum to Address Issues

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Media Advisory – Canadian Homeless Women Face Serious Hurdles: Forum to Address Issues

by NationTalk on April 19, 2011946 Views

Monday, 18 April 2011

Although no one knows how many women there are in this country without a home, they are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, two facts which have prompted Canada’s first national conference on women and security of housing, to be held May 9-11th in London, Ontario.”Research by Leslie Tutty tells us that women comprise about one quarter of Canada’s homeless population,” says Shelley Yeo, co-chair of All Our Sisters 2011 National Forum. “But these numbers don’t capture the realities of the women’s experiences, nor the invisible numbers of women living in dangerous situations because that’s all they can afford, or find.”

“Because the content and design of the National Forum has been guided by women with lived experience of homelessness, the Forum will put the national spotlight on their situation”, says Calgary writer Susan Scott, whose book All Our Sisters was the impetus for the conference. “What they say will help create change with safe housing and nurturing communities.”

According to the British Columbia Centre for Excellence for Women’s Health (2009), the numbers of homeless women are likely to be underestimated as most of them are based on emergency shelter use, which are more likely to be accessed by men. Women are more likely to couch-surf, live in over-crowded or unsafe housing, or stay with a violent partner because they have no other options.

For further information, or to register for the conference, please go to

ALL OUR SISTERS 2011 First National Forum on Housing and Safe Communities for Women in Canada

May 9 – 11, 2011 / London Convention Centre, London, Ontario


Women and children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

Quoted by Trisha Elliott in the United Church Observer, September 2009, quoting Isabelle Gaudreau, spokesperson for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

About 1 in 4 workers earn $10 an hour or less.

Ken Battle, Feb 2009, The Caledon Institute of Social Policy

Canada is one of the few countries in the world without a national housing strategy.

Miloon Kothari, UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, 2009

80% of women’s crime is poverty related.

Elizabeth Fry Society

46% of Winnipeg homeless women said they had been sexually assaulted in the last year and 40% said they felt unsafe in emergency shelters.

Winnipeg Street Health Report 2011

Welfare rates equal 1000 calories a day.

Face Off/Judy Rebick, 1996

None of the increases in social assistance in the last 15 years have even equaled the “cost of living” increases so extremely low calorie intake is an issue.

Patricia Cummings-Diaz, FORWARD, 2011

Poverty costs the residents of Ontario a staggering $32 billion to $38 billion a year – the equivalent of 5.5 per cent to 6.6 per cent of provincial GDP. As one would expect, most of this cost is borne by the 1.9 million households with the lowest incomes.

Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB), March, 2009

The Ontario Human Rights Commission stated that it was “extremely troubled to hear that children in Ontario continue to be relinquished or apprehended by children’s aid societies because of inadequate housing – concerns that were previously noted by CESCR (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)”.

Kothari, 2009

While 40 per cent of all housing in the Netherlands is social housing, 22 per cent in the United Kingdom and Sweden, 14 per cent in Germany, France and Ireland, and 10 per cent in Finland, Canada has only 5 per cent of its overall housing stock as social housing.

Kothari, 2009

38% of those helped by food banks are children and youth.

Food Banks Canada, Hunger Report 2010

“Affordable and secure housing is a significant factor in a community’s stability and in the social and economic well-being of its residents”.

Cheryl Smith, Peacock Poverty on-line magazine, 2009

Homeless women are 10 times more likely to die prematurely than women with homes. 21% of women living on the streets were sexually assaulted or raped in the past year. 66% of women living on the streets indicate they are living on the streets simply because rent is unaffordable or due to eviction. More than half of the women on the streets have been diagnosed with mental-health issues, primarily severe depression and anxiety, with 2% of them suffering from schizophrenia.

Ontario Women’s Health Network

The cost of welfare in Ontario makes up just 5% of the costs of all the income security payments paid to people in Ontario. It seems odd that we reserve our most negative attitudes for such a small portion of our income security budget.

Stapelton, 2007

The persistence of poverty, especially in a wealthy and industrialized nation like Canada, is clearly regarded by the treaty bodies as a human rights failure.

Poverty & Human Rights Centre, 2007

International indicators show that 18% of university-educated adults and 23% of college-educated adults aged 25 to 64 in Canada earned less than half the national median employment income in 2006. This meant that these workers’ annual earnings were less than $16,917 before taxes and transfers” (StatCan website, 2010). The StatsCan LICO line is $22,000 for a single adult.



City of London
Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services
London Public Library
Sisters of St. Joseph
Middlesex-London Health Unit
WOTCH Community Mental Health Services
Women’s Community House
Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children
Canadian Mental Health Association – London-Middlesex Branch
London Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse
The Circle – Women’s Centre for Spirituality, Activism and the Earth
London St. Thomas Association of Realtors
Women’s Mental Health and Addictions Action Research Coalition

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