In my stream of daily pictures, I thought this one… a screen shot from my computer of The Weather Network… was notable because it marks the first time this year that the temperature dipped below 0° Fahrenheit (-17.8° C) in the city. Even Tim, with his southern upbringing, is learning to think in Celsius, but we still note when the temperature gets negative on the old scale. However: we also have a digital thermometer in use at the house; and much though it was cold the last few days, there were colder days last year.
Which is one of the reasons the news of two deaths of homeless men (Globe and Mail, 2015) is so concerning. Such deaths happen every year; usually they don’t make much of a splash in the news. A couple of years ago, our then-mayor Rob Ford made the news when he claimed that advocacy groups were “creating a false sense of crisis” when the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) protested at city hall (National Post, 2014). The city’s budget for Shelter, Support and Housing was significantly less in 2014 than it was in even 2010 (Wellesley Institute, 2014)… $854 million, versus 636 million. Most of that loss was due to continued cuts from the provincial and federal governments (City of Toronto, 2014): but that does not mean it’s not a crisis.
Much though our new mayor, John Tory, has made appropriate comments (“we need to redouble our efforts”: Torontoist, 2015), they are only words. The city did open shelters earlier than expected in a reaction to the cold weather, but whether Tory’s words are translated into long term change remains to be seen.