Category Archives: Blog

Nourishing Change: Confronting the Surge in Food Insecurity in Ottawa and across Canada

In a world where there’s enough food to feed everyone, it’s disheartening that a substantial number of people – including families with children – struggle daily to secure a basic meal. Food is not just essential for survival; it underpins every aspect of human health, supports cognitive development and academic performance in children, and fosters community and cultural connectivity. It fuels the workforce that drives our economy and sustains the social interactions that knit the fabric of our communities. Yet, despite its critical importance, recent reports from reveal a deeply concerning trend: food insecurity in Canada has reached unprecedented levels, affecting more households than ever before. As we observe World Hunger Day, it’s imperative to confront a critical and escalating crisis that affects millions both globally and within our own borders.

The Growing Crisis

A recent study by PROOF, an interdisciplinary research team investigating food insecurity in Canada, revealed alarming trends in household food insecurity over the past year (link). Their findings indicate that nearly one in four Canadians now face difficulty in securing enough food due to financial constraints. The latest data from 2023 shows that an alarming 22.9% of Canadian households are now struggling to access sufficient, safe, and nutritious food. This represents a significant increase from previous years, marking the highest level recorded since national monitoring began. Particularly distressing is the finding that children are disproportionately affected, with nearly one in four living in food-insecure environments. This trend not only impacts their immediate health and development, but also their long-term educational outcomes and future potential.

Similarly, the annual Poverty Report Card by Food Banks Canada (link) highlights that despite being one of the world’s wealthiest nations, Canada has seen a sharp rise in the number of individuals relying on food banks. This report reveals a 30% increase in first-time food bank users. Another notable aspect of the report is the shift in demographics of those relying on food banks. Traditionally viewed as a support system for the most economically vulnerable, food banks are increasingly visited by working individuals and families who find themselves unable to make ends meet due to stagnant wages and skyrocketing living costs. The report also vividly illustrates how food insecurity is becoming a mainstream issue, affecting broader sections of society and pointing to deep systemic economic and social disparities.

Local Impact

Here at home, findings similarly reveal that food insecurity in Ottawa is not just a statistic, but a daily reality for thousands. Our recent report “No More Waiting” sheds light on the local dimensions of this crisis. Last year alone, the Ottawa Mission provided over a million meals, a record high that speaks volumes about the growing demand for immediate food assistance amidst a backdrop of insufficient social support systems. The report also draws a stark portrait of how intertwined food insecurity is with housing instability.

Amidst soaring rental prices and a glaring shortage of affordable housing, an increasing number of Ottawa residents are forced to choose between paying rent and buying food. Over 10% of those accessing the Ottawa Mission’s food services in 2023 were employed, but still unable to afford basic necessities.

The personal stories and lived experiences centered in our report bluntly narrate the choices many in our community face. From single parents juggling rent and food costs, to refugees struggling without stable income, to students, to people working minimum wage jobs, and others, so many are finding themselves having to choose between paying for shelter or paying for meals. These examples are not isolated, collectively they ripple and spreads as a result of broader systemic issues that requires urgent, comprehensive and collaborative solutions.

Nourishing Change

The data is clear, and so is our mission. Food insecurity should not be a norm in our society, and it’s time for transformative changes. The need for coordinated policy approaches by all levels of government that address both housing and food security simultaneously is imperative. We need robust government interventions that prevent individuals and families from having to make impossible choices.

As World Hunger Day calls us to action, let us respond with a unified voice advocating for sustainable solutions. It’s not just about alleviating hunger today, but about securing food justice for tomorrow. We urge you to read the full “No More Waiting” report to understand the depth of need that exists in our city, and how to advocate for policies that ensure no one has to choose between basic necessities [add link here or in the title of the report].

Be it through volunteering, donating, or simply spreading the word – we can drive real change. Together, we can ensure food security becomes a reality for everyone in our community.

Read the full “No More Waiting” report to learn more about our fight against food insecurity and how you can be part of meaningful change.

Dying with Dignity: What it means to provide care at our Diane Morrison Hospice

Sue is a registered practical nurse, who through Ottawa Inner City Health, has worked at our Diane Morrison Hospice since 2014. Early in her career, she found work at palliative care facilities and hospices, and quickly realised it was her calling. 

Nursing at the hospice differs from typical nursing. Monitoring the clients well-being goes beyond administering medicine and tracking their health. “Here, you’re dealing with the whole person: mind, body, and soul.” says Sue. 

As the first shelter-affiliated hospice in North America, there are 20 beds available for under-served chronically or terminally ill homeless and at-risk members of our community. Our clients may not qualify nor be suited for other palliative and hospice care due to mental health issues, addiction, lack of family support, poverty, and more. 

Because of their debilitating illnesses, clients can feel worn down or even defeated when they come through our doors. Sue and the rest of our hospice staff do incredible work to lift spirits and offer comfort.

“Part of our end-of-life care is connecting families back together. People need closure” states Sue. Hospice staff will help our clients track down family. In many cases, they’ll help write letters to loved ones to reconnect and mend relationships that were damaged over the course of challenging lives. Inevitably, clients grow to view each other and our staff as extended family. 

Despite the obvious challenges of working in a hospice, Sue deeply values her work. “I’m satisfied when I feel like I’ve done everything for them. When they pass, I feel that they’ve gone on to a better place, a place without pain and suffering, and that’s what’s important to me.”

Your kind support provides a peaceful and dignified passing for our clients. On behalf of those who turn to us for help, thank you.

Ending Homelessness in Ottawa Should Be an Urgent Goal: New Poll

Poll shows that proposing concrete actions to end homelessness has positive impact on voters’ preferences

OTTAWA, ON – As we move closer to the October 24 municipal election, a new poll by Nanos Research shows strong support to address homelessness: Eight in ten residents agree that ending homelessness should be an urgent goal in Ottawa.

“Fueling this are concerns about the cost of housing: almost two in ten residents are worried or somewhat worried about paying their housing costs next month (9% each). Concern is also being driven by experience of homelessness: 12% report having a friend who has been homeless, 7% report a family member who has been homeless, and 4% report having been homeless themselves. Nine in ten Ottawa residents support (73%) or somewhat support (17%) building new affordable housing.” stated Nik Nanos, President of Nanos Research.

These results come almost three years after Ottawa City Council voted unanimously to declare a homelessness emergency in Ottawa in January 2020. At that point, there were over 8,000 people living in emergency shelters. Since the release of the city’s new 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan in 2020, the number of people in shelters and their total length of stay has declined. However, their total numbers and length of stay remains higher than what it was in 2014 when the city’s original 10-Year Plan was introduced, and the number of people sleeping outside has almost doubled, with 210 people estimated to be sleeping outside.

“For years prior to the pandemic, our shelter was at over 100% capacity each night, which meant we had to put mats down on our chapel floor so people would have somewhere to sleep. After the pandemic was declared, our occupancy rate declined from 110% to 94% due to the closure of 60 beds to minimize the risk of infection to clients by diverting clients to overflow shelters opened by the city. However, these spaces are now almost all closed and our occupancy rate has crept back up to almost 100%. With winter coming, more people sleeping outside and COVID-19 still present in our community, I fear for our clients and other vulnerable community members,” stated Peter Tilley, Ottawa Mission CEO.

The poll also showed that proposing concrete actions to end homelessness has a positive impact on the likelihood that voters will support these candidates. “Most residents said that if a candidate for municipal council proposed concrete actions to end homelessness and build safe, affordable housing, they would be more likely (43%) or somewhat more likely (26%) to support these candidates,” added Nanos.

As a housing-focused shelter, The Mission strongly believes that housing is a human right. “Just like emergency wards in hospitals, emergency shelters have their place in the housing continuum. But a shelter is not a home. As a foundation for human dignity, all people should have access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing. We urge voters to become involved in this election by learning about homelessness in Ottawa and asking their candidates about what actions they propose to end it,” concluded Tilley.

The Ottawa Mission’s asks for the 2022 municipal election to #TakeActiongForHomelessness are available here:

About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 118 men every night and served an average of 2,570 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

Methodology: Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) random telephone survey of 819 residents of Ottawa, 18 years of age or older, between October 1st and 8th, 2022. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey. The sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Ottawa. Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialing with a maximum of five call backs. The margin of error for a random survey of 819 Ottawa residents is ±3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The research was commissioned by Ottawa Mission and was conducted by Nanos Research.

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C 613.712.3092

Hobin Architecture provides Hope to those in need

Since its founding in 1979, Hobin Architecture has been dedicated to two main goals: 1) the design and completion of beautiful, livable buildings for its clients; and 2) community engagement to support our most vulnerable citizens.

As part of its contribution to those in need, Hobin Architecture has long been engaged with many community organizations, including The Ottawa Mission. The firm has lent the shelter its design talents to expand the Diane Morrison Hospice to care for those needing palliative care, and renovations to its former LifeHouse building adjacent to the shelter to transform it into an expanded primary care clinic for people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. Hobin architect Gord Lorimer is also a long-time board member of The Mission. And the firm has been involved in the community-oriented affordable projects like the redevelopment of Beaver Barracks, the Bethany Hope Centre, The Haven, the Multifaith Housing Initiative, and provided support to Cornerstone Housing for Women.

Hobin’s enduring support of The Mission is founded in the desire to see all members of the community have access to a home that meets their needs. “The lack of affordable housing and the risk of homelessness in our community has reached levels never seen before. Our sense of corporate social responsibility is based on working to ensure that people who need support have it,” says Reinhard Vogel – Senior Technologist, Partner. “We know that The Mission will do great things with our support.”

As part of this Hobin has once again generously stepped up again to be a matching sponsor for The Mission’s annual Summer of Hope Campaign, providing a triple match for every donation received over the course of two days (June 15-16), up to a total of $10,000!

“This will go a long way to meeting the needs of our clients during the summer months when donations traditionally ebb,” noted Mission CEO Peter Tilley. “On behalf of our clients, thank you.”

Help contribute to Hobin’s support of the Summer of Hope campaign by visiting:

Investing in Community: Recognizing Connor, Clark & Lunn

The Ottawa Mission is known as the city’s largest housing and homelessness service provider. But behind the meals being served and the housing applications being sent, there are very dedicated partners working to make it all possible. One of those partners is Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group (CC&L Financial Group), an investment management firm with a strong social conscience.

As a multi-boutique asset management firm, CC&L Financial Group is comprised of different investment organizations across Canada and in the United Kingdom. Each affiliate group contributes to CC&L Financial Group’s charitable foundation, the CC&L Foundation, which exists to support the art­­s, communities, education, the environment, science and medicine.

“The work that The Ottawa Mission does is really important in the Ottawa community, and it is a great alignment with our values,” explains Michael Walsh, Managing Director, CC&L Financial Group.

While the work of The Mission falls most clearly within the group’s “community” charitable pillar, it actually spans several others as well. In addition to providing needed food, shelter and clothing to people who are vulnerable, The Mission also offers educational support and healthcare for clients.

With a hospice, dental clinic, primary care clinic and addictions treatment on site, The Mission offers wraparound care for clients in need. Its Stepping Stones Learning Centre helps clients finish high school, go through job training, and even work through college courses.

CC&L Financial Group first got involved with The Mission in 2018 with a corporate donation, driven by Richard Pope, Vice President at CC&L Private Capital. Growing up in Ottawa, Pope has a personal connection to the Ottawa Mission.

“After my parents divorced when I was young, my mother lived in Ottawa below the poverty line and used many of the local support services in the community” notes Pope. “Before her passing in 2015, she had good things to say about The Ottawa Mission. For me, supporting the work of The Ottawa Mission is my way of saying thank you and giving back to a great cause in the community.”

Over the years, CC&L Financial Group’s involvement has grown and they were a matching partner for the 2021 Blue Door at Your Door musical fundraiser and also sent a special gift for Covid-19 relief.

“The Covid pandemic has affected each of us in a different way and has been particularly challenging for the low- and no-income community,” says Walsh. “We wanted to try to support that community as much as possible in these tough times.”

As investment managers, CC&L Financial Group understands the importance of planning ahead and ensuring a strong future.

“You can point to all the great work that The Mission has done over the years and continues to do, and [our partnership] continues to support those needs and helps them plan for the future.”

This ability is invaluable to provide stable support for those in need. The Mission’s Erin Helmer works with companies of all sizes to help The Mission do just that.

“Our corporate engagement program has something for everyone and is fully customizable,” she says. “We are proud to partner with companies like CC&L Financial Group, and we’re grateful they’ve stepped forward to be a Business on a Mission.”

For any companies looking to invest in The Mission’s essential community programs and services, you can learn more at

1 million meals? DYMON steps in to double gifts on Giving Tuesday

It takes strong businesses to support a strong community, and it takes a strong community to support strong businesses. Good companies steward their profits well for the good of customers, employees and the community, and one of those great companies is our partner, DYMON.

The storage solutions company was the naming partner of the expanded DYMON Health Clinic, which opened in 2019. Thanks to Dymon’s generous support, the Dymon Health Clinic provides quality medical and dental care to men and women in the community who may otherwise go without. Last year alone, the Dymon Health Clinic hosted 15,362 primary care appointments. This was a lifeline for many, particularly during the toughest days of the pandemic.

This is part of the reason we nominated DYMON for the AFP “Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist” award, and we weren’t surprised at all when they won. “They have a great leadership team,” says Erin Helmer, our Senior Officer of Corporate Philanthropy and Partnerships. “Dymon is a local company that started here in Ottawa, and they are very passionate about giving back.”

For the past several years, Dymon has been matching Giving Tuesday donations made to The Ottawa Mission. Held on the Tuesday after American Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is designed as a counterbalance to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a day focused on spending money for the good of others instead of just on ourselves. This year Giving Tuesday will be on November 30th, and DYMON is ready to double the impact of donors’ gifts once again. In fact, they’re also committed to doubling the gifts made to The Ottawa Mission by any of Dymon’s employees.

As Dymon has grown, they’ve continued to evolve. They started off developing premier storage facilities and have expanded into home décor retail for storage-related needs and into custom closet and kitchen design and installation. Dymon has recently expanded into Toronto, and they show no signs of slowing down.

Even as Dymon expands beyond its original borders, they remain committed to Ottawa and its needs. “They don’t ever forget their roots and where they started,” says Erin. “They continue to be wonderful partners of The Ottawa Mission.”

This year’s Giving Tuesday funds will support the most immediate need in our community: the shocking rise in hunger. The need for meals has climbed more than 80% since the beginning of the pandemic. Before then, we were serving over 1,400 meals a day. With the surge of hunger and instability caused by COVID-19, we now serve about 2,500 meals a day. If current trends continue, that could mean almost 1 million meals needed in the coming year, right here in Ottawa.

With companies like DYMON investing in the community, we can meet this level of need. And thanks to programs in mental health and addiction treatment, job training, education and housing supports, we are working hard to reverse the trends. It’s always a good time to invest in these programs, but thanks to the DYMON match, your gift on Giving Tuesday will go twice as far.

Shaw Centre’s world-class food donations boost morale for clients

The Shaw Centre in Ottawa was recently honoured with the international APEX award for the World’s Best Convention Centre. Located downtown on the Rideau Canal, the beautiful facility hosts a wide variety of conferences and events. A world-class centre requires world-class meals, and Executive Chef Patrick Turcot does not disappoint.

Although things have looked very different during the pandemic, the Shaw Centre adapted to serve their clients while still remembering the less fortunate in our community. Every month, they donate food to our shelter — everything from egg rolls and samosas to cinnamon buns and smoked meat brisket.

“We’re happy to help those in need in our community by providing diverse and quality meals,” says Chef Patrick. “Knowing the food isn’t going to waste but is going to those who need it makes us feel good at the end of the day.”

In the past few months, the donations have been a huge help in feeding the shelter guests and community clients who turn to us for meals. We always aim to provide quality meals to our clients, and the fresh, local contributions from Chef Patrick and his team are a huge help.

Recent donations of waffles, sausages, turkey bacon were used in the daily breakfasts, and a donation of vegetarian mini burgers provided a delicious vegetarian option for a lunch entrée. Donated bread was used to make toast and sandwiches, and a large donation of salad dressing meant that we didn’t have to buy any for several weeks.

With so many more people turning to us for meals during the pandemic, the Shaw Centre’s donations make a significant difference. Currently, between our community meal program and Mobile Mission Meals food truck, we serve over 2,000 meals a day. “They have been a big help in meeting the increased demand we have had of late,” confirms Chef Percy Belford, the Manager of Kitchen Services at The Mission. “These donations have been a real morale booster for our clients. It’s great to see the smile on their faces when they see something special on the plate.”

One of the favourite recurring donations among clients are the cookies and squares, which are always a big hit for dessert. Each special treat or unexpected menu item offers our guests something to look forward to during a challenging time.

We’re so grateful at The Mission to have neighbours like the Shaw Centre just a few blocks away. They’re leaders in their industry, and their generosity is making our city a better place for everybody.


Cooking Up a New Dream: The Ottawa Mission Opens Up “Chef Ric’s”

Ottawa, ON – Today The Ottawa Mission celebrated its grand opening of its new social enterprise “Chef Ric’s” at the former home of Ottawa’s beloved Rideau Bakery. The Mission appreciates the grant of almost $417,200 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation as well as the contributions of so many donors and supporters to realize this project.

This new facility will expand The Mission’s very successful Food Services Training Program (FSTP), which provides graduates the skills and credentials to work in a commercial kitchen, as well as a storefront operation where all members of the community can purchase healthy prepared meal options at very affordable prices. Chef Ric’s will also expand The Mission’s growing catering business, with all proceeds directed back into the FSTP, and be the new home of The Mission’s Mobile Mission Meals food truck program, which has served over 120,000 meals since it began one year ago.

Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley noted the important connection to the Kardish family, the former owners and operators of the Rideau Bakery. “I’m delighted to welcome you here today to our very own “Chef Ric’s”, our new social enterprise at the former home of Ottawa’s beloved Rideau Bakery which provided a feeling of home, warmth and inclusion to people in our community for almost 90 years.”

Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services, noted the impact of the FSTP and how the expansion will help even more people in need. “Our space within our shelter wasn’t big enough to meet the demand and we had to turn applicants away, which we didn’t want to keep doing. Since 2004, this program has graduated 190 people, 90% of whom have gone to jobs in the food service industry. Through this expansion, we expect to graduate about 25 more students per year into new lives, self-sufficiency, and independence.”

Erica La France, a current FSTP student, explained what the program means to her. “I grew up in abuse, but I baked a lot, and that was something I really enjoyed. It was very therapeutic for me. I love the community feel of Chef Ric’s. We’re feeding a community of people that have that same basic need for food as somebody who is able to provide it easily. I have the connection to the community through Chef Ric’s. This program allows me to be independent and in charge of my own life.”

Mayor Jim Watson pointed out the continuing leadership of The Ottawa Mission to help people improve their lives through Chef Ric’s. “This new social enterprise is one more example of the innovative approach of The Ottawa Mission, our community’s oldest and largest homeless shelter, to help people rebuild their lives and attain pride, dignity and independence.”

Mathieu Fleury, Councillor for Rideau-Vanier, noted the impact of Chef Ric’s on his ward. “Your Food Services Training Program helps people to become independent by giving your graduates skills, training and a pathway to a job. And your food truck keeps people fed, including the five stops in this ward, which is very much appreciated. This ward needs this support. Our community has the highest rate of food bank usage in the province, and a much lower median income. Chef Ric’s and The Mission offer people hope and practical support to improve their lives.”

Lucille Collard, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier, noted the public investment in Chef Ric’s. “I’m glad that the province has supported this very worthy project through the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Public investment in social enterprises such as Chef Ric’s are an excellent and cost-effective way to provide as much benefit as possible to people in need.”

Lalit Aggarwal, President of Manor Park Management, explained about why he decided to support Chef Ric’s through charging only $10 per year for the enhanced space. “I learned that The Mission needed new space to expand the Food Services Training Program. People like Erica and so many others want to improve their lot. That’s the hook. This will now be even more important with the lingering effects of COVID-19 in our community. It’s great to see it all come together in the home of the former Rideau Bakery.”

Debbie Baylin, speaking on behalf of the Kardish family, extended their best wishes to The Mission on the opening of Chef Ric’s. “The Rideau Bakery was in operation for almost 90 years under the ownership of three generations of the Kardish family. Four generations of brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, were part of the operation.  Everyone learned how to work hard. We wish great success to “Chef Ric’s” and are confident that your workers share the diligence and work ethic that seemed to pervade the family and staff at the Rideau Bakery.”

Chef Ric concluded with a tribute to the Kardish family. “I’m so happy that our new home is the former Rideau Bakery, and that the Kardish family can be with us today to celebrate. Louis, David, Josh and Debbie: you will always be part of our family here at 384 Rideau Street.”

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department. Visit to learn more.

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  Visit to learn more.


Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305

Vote housing at the polls

In a new Nanos poll, 78% of Canadians said they would be more supportive of a political party that proposed concrete action to end homelessness and build new affordable housing. As we prepare to vote this month, let’s review what the national parties propose around housing and homelessness.


The Liberals are promising to build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes over 4 years. They will push big cities to build middle-class homes, convert empty office space into housing, and introduce tax credits that support multi-generational family living. They will also scale up rent-to-own projects and offer a tax-free First Home Savings Account. In addition to this, they plan to double the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit and introduce other measures that could save first-time buyers up to $30,000. Their proposed buyers’ bill of rights would include a ban on “blind bidding,” which can drive up sale prices on homes. They would also crack down on housing speculation and home flipping, and they would temporarily ban new foreign ownership in Canadian housing.


The Conservatives pledge to build 1 million homes in the next 3 years. They commit to using 15% of federal-owned buildings for housing, and they would require municipalities receiving federal transit funding to increase density near transit. They will encourage investment in rental homes by allowing owners to defer capital gains tax when selling. They will also ban foreign investors from buying homes in Canada unless they plan to live in them or move to Canada. In addition, the party plans to create 1,000 residential drug treatment beds and build 50 recovery community centres across the country. They will also provide $1 billion over five years for Indigenous mental health and drug treatment programs.


The NDP will create at least 500,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years, with at least half completed in the next 5 years. The party will introduce “fast-start funds” to create more co-op and non-profit social housing, use federal lands and resources for affordable housing, and waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of affordable rentals. They have also promised to double the Home Buyers Tax Credit and re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC-insured mortgages for most first-time buyers. They will also create resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements. Finally, they will place a 20% foreign buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to people who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents.


The Green Party wants to declare a national housing affordability and homelessness emergency. From there, they would adopt a national moratorium on evictions and create a residential arrears assistance program to protect people from becoming homeless. They would make new investments in cooperative housing, and they would retain the current tax on foreign homeowners while adding a tax on corporate owners of unoccupied residences. They also plan to enhance the Canada Housing Benefit and to redefine “affordable housing” using a formula that better reflects today’s reality.

The Nanos poll referenced above reveals that a shocking 4.9 million Canadians are worried about making next month’s rent or mortgage payment. With so much at stake, we encourage you to look into each party’s housing and homelessness policies as you prepare to cast your vote.

Sharing the faces and stories of people experiencing homelessness through photography

There’s a story written on all of our faces.

A story of who we are. Of where we’ve been.

Through her photography, Leah Denbok seeks to capture the stories of people experiencing homelessness and offer viewers a glimpse of their struggles.

In 2015, when she was only 15 years old, she created Humanizing The Homeless, a series of portraits of people experiencing homelessness primarily from Toronto. The striking images are accompanied by stories about their lives, their passions, and their struggles.

Leah was drawn to photography from a young age. After coming upon the work of British photographer Lee Jeffries and his striking portraits of people experiencing homelessness, her father Tim suggested she look for opportunities to create her own.

Leah said that growing up in a small-town in southern Ontario insulated her from the scale of homelessness in large urban centres like Toronto

“Going into it, I was somewhat naive about their lives and had many of the negative stereotypes that people often assume,” she said. “But as you soon discover, people experiencing homelessness can be some of the kindest, most humble people you’ll ever meet.”

But her belief in the project also comes from a personal place: her mother, Sara, was once homeless.

As a child, Sara was found in the streets of Calcutta, India in the early 1970s, and was brought by a police officer to Mother Teresa’s orphanage. From there, she was adopted by a Canadian couple near Collingwood.

“I realize that if not for people having empathy for people experiencing homelessness, I wouldn’t be alive,” she said.

Humanizing the people she photographs and encouraging empathy lay at the heart of the project.

After capturing hundreds of images and stories in cities in Canada and internationally, Leah said what inspires her to keep the project going is knowing that the work is helping change perspectives.

“I think if anyone actually took the time to listen to what people have had to go through and experience just to survive, they’d be shocked,” she said.

“I receive from people who’ve seen the photos saying they’re not just going to walk by anymore, and that they’ll stop just pretending that they aren’t there.”

After several years, Leah collected her works into three volumes of photography books, with all proceeds going to support local emergency shelters. The fourth book in the series will be released later this fall.

To learn more about Leah and her project, visit