Tag Archives: Downtown Eastside

Unhoused People Struggle with ‘Street Feet’ in Rainy Vancouver

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the Tyee, which gives a warning about the photos you see above (and puts them in the text below). When people cannot dry their feet out for a prolonged period of time, they get what some of our WWI grandfathers and great grandfathers called ‘trench foot.’

This report is from Vancouver, but probably also applicable in our area. The 2023 ‘Point in Time counts‘ found 197 ‘house challenged’ people in Campbell River, 272 in the the Comox Valley, and 126 in Powell River. There is less data about rural areas, but 11 of the respondents to the 2022 ‘Collecting Stories Of Where You Live’ survey on Cortes Island reported they had been ‘unsheltered’ at some point during the year. There were fewer respondents in Area C (which includes Quadra, Read and other Discovery Islands), where the number was 12.

Even more alarming, the number of ‘homeless’ people appears to be growing. 32% of the respondents to the Campbell River ‘Point in Time’ count said they had been ‘unsheltered’ for less than a year. There were actually 81 more people on the streets than in the 2021 count. Similar increases were reported in the Comox ValleyParksville/QualicumPort Alberni and Sechelt/Gibsons. (This was the first ‘Point in Time’ count in Powell River, so there are no previous numbers for a comparison.) When people were asked why they were unsheltered, the #1 response in every one of these ‘Point in Time’ counts was they could not afford to pay for housing.

There are far larger numbers of people spending more of their than income than they can reasonably afford (i.e. +30%) for rent or mortgages. According to the 2021 census, 47% of the renters on Cortes Island and 38% of the renters in Campbell River and Electoral Area C are vulnerable. Roughly 15% of the home owners in these three communities are also considered to be ‘at risk.’

By Michelle Gamage, The Tyee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

In the winter and spring, unhoused people in Vancouver struggle with something known anecdotally as “street feet.”

It happens when the rain soaks your socks and shoes and you’re unable to clean and dry your feet regularly, sometimes leaving them damp for months on end.

Continue reading Unhoused People Struggle with ‘Street Feet’ in Rainy Vancouver

Inside Vancouver’s Decision to Scrap Its Living Wage Commitment

Editor’s note: in a memo to the city council one year after the Living Wage program was introduced, City Manager (now Cortes Island resident) Sadhu Johnston reported, “During 2017, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board signed or renegotiated 17 contracts that meet the Living Wage program criteria with vendors to ensure their staff and subcontractors are paid the living wage. Since the introduction of the policy, eight contracted service employees received a living wage who would not otherwise have been paid one. These employees are part of the contracted graffiti removal team and the contractor has reported reductions in absenteeism, turnover and recruitment costs as well as increased morale and productivity.”

By  Zak Vescera, The Tyee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Internal emails suggest City of Vancouver staff felt “significant anger and disillusionment” after city council voted to scrap the municipality’s living wage policy this year.

That’s how former chief equity officer Aftab Erfan described the reaction from staff after the city announced in March it would no longer guarantee a living wage, effectively cutting the guaranteed minimum pay for security guards, food vendors, janitors and other low-wage workers. Erfan left the job four months later.

Continue reading Inside Vancouver’s Decision to Scrap Its Living Wage Commitment

Curing the Most Deadly Communicable Disease on the Planet

Editor’s note: A health warning for our area as well the urban centres mentioned.

By Michelle Gamage, The Tyee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The hepatitis C Virus kills more people than most other communicable diseases, including AIDS and tuberculosis, says Dr.  Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases  Centre. Conway was recently named an Elimination Champion for his work fighting the disease.

This excludes COVID-19 which, as a generational pandemic gets measured differently by infectious disease experts, Conway adds. 

HCV killed 290,000 people globally in 2019 according to the World Health Organization, including 1,162 Canadians. 

Continue reading Curing the Most Deadly Communicable Disease on the Planet

Indigenous couple fights for the return of their newborn daughter, taken by MCFD

By Anna McKenzie,  The Discourse, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.

Every day for more than a month, Sonja Hathaway sat with her newborn baby Amella in the hospital, speaking to the infant in her Dene language. 

Despite the feelings of being watched, Sonja and her husband Philip diligently spent time at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Victoria General Hospital to feed and care for their daughter. 

Continue reading Indigenous couple fights for the return of their newborn daughter, taken by MCFD

Sex Workers on Making Their Lives Better

By Brishti Basu, The Tyee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Sex work is the most fulfilling job Rae has ever had. Colleagues and clients in Victoria were more welcoming than other professions had ever  been to a transgender and autistic woman like herself.

Her first professional job  after moving to Victoria seven years ago involved discrimination — she  was asked to wear a man’s shirt, for example — low paycheques and  mistreatment. 

“One day, I was just like, ‘Screw this I’m  running an ad,’” Rae said, deciding to explore sex work. The response  was immediate and positive.

Continue reading Sex Workers on Making Their Lives Better