Report: Three Million Canadians Have Feared or Experienced Homelessness – Salvation Army study shows increase in demand for social services

by Salvation Army
Categories: Feature

Toronto, ON, May 3, 2010 – A new report shows that approximately three million people – one in nine Canadian adults – have either worried about or personally experienced homelessness. This report, released by The Salvation Army indicates that demand for social services are on the rise. At the same time, the public perceives homelessness and poverty as two of the nation’s most critical social problems. The report is being released today to kickoff The Salvation Army’s National Red Shield Campaign, a month-long effort that seeks to educate the public about the cycle of poverty in Canada and raise funds to help combat the problem.

“Our study found that the need to assist the poor and homeless is more important now than ever before,” said Commissioner William W. Francis, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda “The public understands that there are numerous factors which lead to life on the streets, and the public believes that more can be done for the poor and homeless.”

The new report, “Poverty shouldn’t be a life sentence: a report on the perceptions of homelessness and poverty in Canada,” surveyed a representative sample of Canadians to understand where perceptions exist and realities emerge on homelessness and poverty. The results indicate that the public has a heightened awareness of poverty and homelessness, but still, these two problems continue to grow. In 2009, The Salvation Army helped more than one million people by providing food, clothing and other practical assistance. Demand for these services increased by more than 25 percent in one year. Locally, The Salvation Army has seen increases in shelter bed occupancy and stay rates.

Read the full Poverty Shouldn’t be a Life Sentence Report below or download a copy.

“The increase shows us just how much the economic recession has exacerbated long-existing problems in Canada,” said Commissioner Francis. “The Salvation Army is leading the fight against homelessness and poverty as Canada’s largest nongovernmental provider of social services.”

The public believes that homelessness and poverty are two of the most pressing issues in Canada today. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents ranked poverty, homelessness and related issues as the most pressing social problems in Canada.

The release of the homelessness and poverty report coincides with The Salvation Army’s National Red Shield Campaign, which runs through May 31st. For more than 90 years, the campaign has raised funds to support Salvation Army programs – aimed especially at the more than three million people currently living in poverty in Canada today. To spread awareness, the Army will run several public service announcements, spotlighting the issue of poverty. The advertising campaign’s message, that “Poverty shouldn’t be a life sentence,” will run in-print, online and on-air throughout May.

Money raised during the campaign directly supports those living in poverty through Salvation Army social services like emergency shelter care, substance abuse counselling and employment training. Each year, The Salvation Army serves more than 1.5 million people in more than 400 communities across the country.

This year’s goal is to raise $2.75 million by May 31st. Financial contributions can be made by visiting, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769), by mailing donations to The Salvation Army, 2 Overlea Blvd., Toronto, ON M4H1P4 or by dropping off financial donations at the closet Salvation Army facility in your area.

Donors can also support the May Red Shield Campaign by texting HOME to 45678 from most wireless phones in Canada. A $5 donation will be added to your monthly wireless phone bill.

To view the “Poverty shouldn’t be a life sentence” report and to find out how you perceive the problems of homelessness and poverty in Canada, please visit

About The Red Shield Campaign:
The National Red Shield Campaign is an annual fundraising and public awareness campaign held annually throughout the month of May. The Salvation Army utilizes online, phone, direct mail and door-to-door appeals to solicit donations from generous Canadians. Giving to The Salvation Army offers an opportunity to invest in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community. 86 cents of every dollar raised by The Salvation Army goes directly to support those in need.

About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday in 400 communities across Canada and 120 countries around the world. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community.

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News releases, articles and updated information can be found at

For further information please contact:

Andrew Burditt
Territorial Public Relations Director
The Salvation Army