Homelessness, and the judicial system: Kenora district looks to province for help
Over 1,000 people relied on shelters in Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake last year
Officials from the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) plan to meet with Attorney General Yasir Naqvi in August, to discuss their concerns about the judicial system, and social issues such as homelessness.
One of those concerns is how the judicial system contributes to the problem of homelessness in communities, said Henry Wall, CAO of the KDSB.
When people come from surrounding communities to larger centres for court dates, a lack of housing and other supports means that many end up staying in already overburdened shelters, he said.
Last year, over 1,000 people relied on the shelters in Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake, he said. And of that total, 600 of those people were in Kenora.
"When you put that into the context of our population, the size of these communities, those numbers do not make any sense," he said. "They're incredible."
The lack of supports and services means that people waiting for hearings are also very likely to re-offend, he said.
Wall said the district needs more resources to create transitional and supportive housing, and to provide better supports for people caught up in the judicial system in northwestern Ontario.
The help is "absolutely necessary," he said.
"Policing costs are unsustainable in northern Ontario. The courts are overwhelmed in northern Ontario, and our communities are facing some significant pressures with respect to housing, with respect to homelessness — but they're all in a complex way, connected."
The Kenora District Services Board plans to meet with the Attorney General to discuss its concerns during the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which takes place August 14-17 in Windsor, Ont.