Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank all my colleagues for their interventions today and on the previous day as well.
I would close by simply stating a couple of things that I do not want to be misconstrued. There is nothing simple about homelessness. There is nothing simple about the difficulty in analyzing and assessing what the true needs really are.
Doing a point-in-time count and coming up with certain specific definitions would bring it in line with the United States. They have been doing this throughout the United States for a number of years.
I believe what epitomizes the necessity of doing this is the last two counts that were down, one in Calgary and one in Edmonton. Calgary counted in January, and in the Calgary count, they came up with something like 60 people. They were counted by still being out on the street. The Edmonton count, done in October, counted something like 1,100 people who were out on the street.
We can see that the difference in the number of people had largely to do with weather. As a young person, I used to do a lot of camping out. There are a good number of people who will be visiting the cities, and they will camp out in the parks in the River Valley area. They would be like me. I had a home. I just was away from my home, because I preferred to visit Montreal, Toronto, and different parts of the country.
We have to be careful of statistical analysis. In the tent city set up in Edmonton, there would have been a substantial number who really were visiting the city and camping out there while they are visiting.
It is a very complex issue. Certainly there is no one simple answer. I think we can get to the bottom of the issue statistically by doing a thorough definition of who we want to count. I believe that January would be a common point in time to be counting across the country to come up with statistics.
This does not mean that the count methodology cannot include other local conditions and issues, such as health issues or other things they may wish to include in their particular counts. However, the national count that is turned over to the federal authorities should have the statistical information that is done throughout the United States. It should be done across Canada so that we can have some basic formulated statistics to work from.
I have been following this issue for 14 or 15 years and have visited some 120 or 130 homeless shelters in Canada and the United States. I have been to the shelters in January, late at night. Certainly cities like Edmonton can do far better in their planning for emergency shelter than opening the floors of LRT stations and putting out Red Cross blankets to emergency house people because it is January and they desperately need a place to go for their safety. Surely we can do better than that.