Canada's Indigenous people are disproportionately represented in the country's emergency shelters compared with the general population, according to a new federal study on the issue.
Almost one third of a total of 137,000 shelter users last year were Indigenous, according to the findings, corresponding to 45,000 people—a rate 10 times higher than for the general population and 20 times more for Indigenous seniors.
Veterans, for instance, accounted for 3,000 shelter users—about 2.2 percent of the total, which matches more or less with their proportion in Canada's population.
In 2015, over 6,000 migrants and refugees were also reported as shelter users.
Compiling 10 years of data from over 200 shelters, or more than half of those in Canada, the investigators found alarming patterns, such as the fact homeless people now seem to spend more time in the emergency shelters than in the past.
“Families and seniors, for instance, are likely to stay more than three weeks in shelters compared to the approximately nine days recorded in 2005,” reported CBC.
"The fact that people are staying in shelters longer, that's a bad sign because that's going to cost more. The longer someone's homeless, the worse everything gets in their life and the harder it is to get people housed and stabilized," said Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.
The investigation did not include stays at shelters for women escaping domestic violence, but meant to focus especially on veterans, Aborigines and refugees.