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Housing as a Right For All – Learning from Successes

Information from Linda Laforge's presentation "Calling Home"

As part of this year's Culture Days, the MacLaren Art Centre invited local artist and writer Linda Laforge to create a digital animated drawing accompanied by an original narrative exploring the varied definition of home and community. Linda shared the moving story of her family's helplessness in experiencing years of her brother's homelessness, in her work "Calling Home".

After the conclusion of her narrative, Linda shared a bit of her "why" in creating this piece, as well as examples of countries with the lowest homeless rates, and what Barrie, Ontario, and Canada could learn from them.

We asked if we could share her research on our blog, and she sent us her entire script from that portion of her presentation to share with you here. Please visit her own blog at for updates to her resources and links.


Linda Laforge, Guest Blogger:

The real issue of today, we all know someone who has or is without a secure roof over their heads.

  • According to, the estimated number of homeless people in Canada ranges from 150 to 300 thousand and rising.

  • Between 25 and 35 thousand people are homeless on any given night in Canada.

  • Toronto has the largest number of homeless people in Canada.

  • (62%) Sixty-two percent of homeless people in Canada are males.

  • (30%) Thirty percent come from Indigenous communities.

  • People who are homeless are more likely to have mental health issues compared to the general population. Between 30-35% of homeless in Canada have a mental illness, and 20-25% have a mental illness AND an addiction.

Where in the world has the least amount of homelessness?

Japan and Finland have the lowest worldwide homeless rates.


Homelessness in Japan is a social issue primarily affecting middle-aged and elderly males. People without the income, savings or property to meet the basic necessities of living receive livelihood protection. Japan has severe drug laws, making it tough to get them. They also have 269 psychiatric beds per 100 thousand people, compared to 25 in the US, and 34 in Canada. They believe those struggling with mental illness deserve treatment and care. The other side of that, Japan does have the highest suicide rates worldwide and public insurance doesn’t cover mental health medication.


Since 2002, the Constitution in Finland mandates housing as a right for all and grants the right to receive indispensable sustenance and care.

How can Finland afford to provide homes without preconditions?

In a CBC article, “Keeping people homeless, instead of providing homes for them, is always more expensive for society. ... When a homeless person gets a permanent home, even with support, the cost savings for the society are at least 15,000 Euros per one person, per one year.”

Finland succeeds because they have the science to back them up (which we all have now) and political will from all parties.

What about here?

Canada, Ontario, and our good city of Barrie requires systemic change. Our health system is not working, when we experience people going into care, only to be tossed back on the street ten (10) days later.

Let’s not count on Barrie City Council and their Bills 67 & 68, the "Homelessness" Bills, to fix one single thing. It addresses none of the issues.

What do we do?

Voices from those working on the front lines need to be heard. And we need to follow the lead of those succeeding.

We don’t all have enough spare change for a problem this chronic as we’re gauged at the grocery store and gas pump.

We can stay informed, to ensure our votes count. We need now, more than ever, to make sure our voices are heard.

And must support those who do the work, and have solid plans to fix this crisis.

And we need to ask questions!

We can listen, watch and learn from our world community.


Homelessness Statistics for Canadians

Homelessness in Canada

Housing is a human right: How Finland is eradicating homelessness

Japan’s homeless population

Homelessness in Japan

Local organizations

The Barrie Housing and Homelessness Justice Network:

Fact-Checking City & Council Communications re: "Homelessness" Motion & Bills


Engage Barrie Organization encourages our members and guests to contribute blog posts on a variety of topics that fall under our "equitable, empowered, engaged" umbrella, in the hopes of sharing a variety of perspectives and experiences. Please be aware that the views and opinions expressed by our blog contributors do not necessarily reflect any official position of Engage Barrie Organization.



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