A homeless man passed away inside a Tim Hortons in Vancouver where he had spent most of the final years of his life.
The 74-year-old named Ted (whose last name is unknown) was found leaning on one of the restaurant's tables, unresponsive, on May 30. It took several hours before anyone noticed that he was lifeless. The B.C. Coroner's Service later confirmed that he had died that night.
Ted's death is a heartbreaking example of how Canada is not doing enough to provide shelter to those most in need of it.
"Fast-food places take place of shelters that we don't have," said Judy Graves, an advocate for the homeless.
She knew Ted personally and said he struggled to survive every day on unreliable pensions for food and housing. He, like many other homeless individuals in the country, relied on 24-hour restaurants as a place of refuge. The Tim Hortons at 865 W. Broadway was his go-to spot — he was there 'all the time,' through his unexpected cancer diagnosis and up until his final breaths.
"I would really like to thank the management and the staff of that Tim Hortons for the kindness that they've shown to homeless people," Graves said. "They have really kept people alive."
Ted and many other homeless persons who frequented that Tim Hortons were fortunate that the workers there were so understanding and hospitable towards them. But caring for the homeless shouldn't be the workers' responsibility.
"This is something that shouldn't happen," said Julian Somers, a Simon Fraser University professor. "It's completely unfair and inappropriate that we would be asking fast-food workers to now develop skills regarding the monitoring of people who are using their premises because of very serious neglect in our social fabric."