The connection between the working poor and homelessness can be seen in homeless shelters, many of which house significant numbers of full-time wage earners. Two factors account for increasing poverty in Canada: 1) the eroding employment opportunities for large segments of the workforce, and 2) the declining value and availability of government assistance in times of crisis. People that live in poverty are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing - which absorbs a high proportion of income - that must be sacrificed.
Public opinions and government policy regarding the nature and causes of poverty tend to oscillate between two positions. Firstly, poverty is often seen as a shortcoming of individuals who will not (or cannot) do what is required to maintain a reasonable life. In this view, poverty is often a moral failing. Measures to provide extra supports to poor people are believed to encourage a lack of initiative and make the problem worse. A second view is that poverty arises mainly from systematic inequities in the economy and society, and is largely the result of factors (lack of work, low wages, or discrimination) beyond the control of individuals. From this viewpoint, structural changes to the economy as well as supports to families and individuals are required to alleviate poverty.