Wishart gets a taste of homeless life 0
Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart slept on the corner of Portage Ave. and Main St. on Thursday in Winnipeg to raise awareness for homelessness and poverty. (File photo)
Sleeping on the street is not easy and Portage MLA Ian Wishart got a taste of that firsthand during the CEO Sleepout in Winnipeg Thursday night.
Businessmen and other politicians took part in the effort, which raises awareness on the issue of homelessness while collecting funds to employ them.
Wishart said that he got just two hours of sleep on the corner of Portage Ave. and Main St., but learned a lot about the struggle homeless people face on a daily basis.
"I got about two hours of sleep. It's the noise more than anything. We were comfortable enough and we weren't cold but it's a noisy corner. It was mostly vehicles: Garbage trucks, ambulances and street sweepers. It's a busy corner," said Wishart.
By 11:00 p.m. approximately $120,000 was raised for the event, however final number have not yet been tallied. The goal was set at $150,000, said Wishart.
The experience also gave Wishart the sense that more needs to be done not only about homelessness but mental health as well.
"Each one has their own story. It tends to be that there's a lot of mental health issues without a doubt. It contributes greatly to the problem and sometimes it's as simple as an economic thing too," said Wishart.
"Some have lost their job and if (anyone) saw that Statistics Canada study that said 40 per cent of people are living paycheck to paycheck. It doesn't take very long when you lose your job and things aren't going well."
Wishart and the others also had a chance to tour some facilities in the area such as Red Road, Bell River and the Salvation Army.
"It gave me a really good first-hand look at both sides of the problem and some of the aspects of that. I met a lot of people who are really involved in working with the homeless and it gave me some appreciation of what they go through," said Wishart.
"It gave me a greater appreciation for it but I'm sure it's not in the same league as the problems they face. We knew we'd be going somewhere warm later in the day but they don't know that. Our situation gave us a taste of it but not the whole thing."