March 11, 2013 | Alberta
Anyone who has spent time working in the community services field knows about the drastic problem facing Canada's homeless population today. More than 30,000 citizens are homeless on any given night, according to data from the Covenant House, with many shelters and services throughout the country seeing their resources exhausted.
Since the deinstitutionalization of mental health care, community care facilities have been on the rise. However, these centres are often unable to provide long-term solutions for patients, mostly due to a lack of funding and available space. According to Charity Intelligence Canada, the decline in extended programs and support systems for mental health problems has led to many individuals being left alone to deal with illnesses and control their symptoms, often in vain. As a result, those who live with serious mental health issues have unemployment rates that range from 70 to 93 percent in any given year and are often unable to provide for themselves.
According to the Toronto Star, the average cost for providing for a homeless person currently costs provinces about $55,000 per year while the cost of providing long-term affordable housing and support would only be about $37,000 per person. Ultimately, this would save more than $200 million annually.
Creating a New Strategy
Changing the way governments and facilities deal with homelessness and mentally ill citizens means changing the very strategy that most cities and provinces operate under. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that a new technique for tackling the problem would require governments to work with private companies and grassroots organisations. Not only would this save taxpayers money, but it would also mean pooling ideas to create better solutions.
Any new strategy will need workers to carry it out. More reinforcements are needed for every job from physicians to counselors to concerned individuals looking to lend a helping hand, and these workers will need to be able to interact with mentally ill individuals or people dealing with addictions and other personal issues. Students eager to aid in this mission can begin the process by taking courses at an Alberta college, where they can learn the basics of this career.
At CDI College, students can enroll in the Addictions & Community Services Worker program and train for careers in the social services field. As graduates, they can seek opportunities in mental health centres, group homes or correctional facilities after finishing their education. For more information, fill out the form on the right.