Elections Canada is working to help homeless people to vote
MONTREAL -- Elections Canada is trying to reach out to a group of often forgotten people to vote in this year's elections: the homeless.
There are more than 200,000 homeless in Canada, who, like other Canadians, want to make sure their voices are heard.
"Interestingly enough, people who are experiencing homelessness are remarkably well informed," said Welcome Hall Mission CEO Sam Watts. "They read a lot of newspapers, they listen to a lot of radio and they watch a lot of TV."
Watts said homeless people are interested in many aspects of Canadian politics.
"For me it's, I'd say, not to close the emergencies in hospitals for people (and) helping people that really need a hand," said Jason Hambrook.
At the Welcome Hall Mission in Montreal, staff have already registered more than 50 people to vote and they are working with shelters to make sure those without a fixed address can still register to vote.
Robert Brunet was homeless at one point in his life and now works with Elections Canada. He says voting is one of the best tools the homeless have to push for more money for social housing and other programs.
It's not always easy to get homeless people to vote, however. Many, he said, are still embarrassed to stand in line at a polling station with the public.
The Old Brewery Mission is finalizing plans to either shuttle people to polls or even have a polling station at the mission itself.
"It's important for everybody to vote and I think it's particularly important for people who feel on the edges of society to have an opportunity to express their support and participation in a major event in our society," said Matthew Pearce, president and CEO at the Old Brewery Mission.