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IN OUR VIEW: We have food banks because the government has failed

We should not pretend it’s normal that thousands of people are homeless or hungry
A man pushed a cart through downtown Langley City as a heavy snowfall began on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 29. (Langley Advance Times files)

Canada shouldn’t have food banks.

This is the time of the year when there are extra appeals to donate money or food (money is more efficient) to local food banks.

We hear again how they are serving more people than ever before.

We hear how they serve families, children, seniors, and the working poor.

People don’t question the fact that communities have food banks, though. Canadians should eliminate them.

The government should provide everyone with either enough money to live on and feed themselves, or enough food directly, whichever is more efficient.

Communities shouldn’t have homeless shelters.

This is the time of year when shelters are strained, as cold weather drives people in off the streets. They’ve been living in tents, they’ve been sleeping in cars, and now the snow is coming, and hail, and weeks of rain.

Some homeless camps will be flooded out. It is literally life-threatening to be outside without sufficient warm weather gear on some nights, so we open emergency shelters and we double up the mats on the floors, and the homeless – most of them, at least – will survive.

Canadians shouldn’t have to do any of this, but they do.

As individuals and communities, Canadians have to support food banks, and non-profits that shelter and aid the homeless. When they can, they have to donate blankets and warm clothing, canned food and money.

But Canadians shouldn’t let this feel normal.

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Residents should not have to do this. It’s obscene that charities have to beg so thousands of people can have basic necessities.

There should be enough homes and food enough for everyone, and when there isn’t, people should be asking their leaders every day what they did wrong.

Canadians are told that the reason the government exists and exerts control is to keep all safe.

But it doesn’t do that very well.

For decades, federal and provincial governments have dragged their feet on building supportive housing, on increasing social assistance supports to people without any other form of income.

Even now, it’s moving far too slowly, something the public can see in the tent cities and overcrowded shelters and lineups of people waiting to get a couple of bags of groceries.

The government allows people to go hungry. It allows people to be homeless. And then it throws the burden of providing those things on charities and non-profits.

It shouldn’t.

This needs to stop.

– M.C.