Only as grim as the media wants to portray it
The CBC headline "Homeless people left to fend for themselves amid extreme-cold warning, advocates say" is not warranted by the content of the article. The writer seems to confuse people who don't/can't live inside four walls year-around, with the number of cold weather beds.
I volunteer at a cold weather shelter in our downtown, and it is never full. We have room for 30 men and women, and on the coldest nights of last week (wind chill down to -26C/-15F), we had at most about 25 places filled -- even with the local help agency and police bringing us additional clients throughout the evening.
We offer them an evening supper, washing their clothes, recharging their phones, replacement clothing, hotpocket hand warmers, and a place to sleep from 8pm to 7:30am. In the morning, clients are bused to Salvation Army for breakfast, and then they are allowed to hang out there for a time afterwards. During the day, the old tourism building is a day shelter against the cold.
Hearing the head of a local homeless advocacy group speak unfiltered by the media tells me he knows the difference: There will always be those who refuse to live inside four walls. All we can do is offer them a place when the weather is bad, and even that cannot be forced on them.
But they are never left to fend for themselves. And advocates are not saying that.