Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

Flowers are seen outside a portable toilet where a deceased baby was found in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Thursday, April 23, 2020.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

The discovery of a newborn baby in a portable toilet in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has brought fresh anguish to a troubled neighbourhood.

The Vancouver Police Department on Thursday said it was investigating after a deceased newborn baby was found in a public restroom Wednesday evening.

In a statement, VPD Constable Tania Visintin called the incident “extremely tragic” and said police hoped to speak with witnesses and the mother as police were concerned for her mental and physical well-being.

Story continues below advertisement

Tina Beaulieu, a mental health worker at PHS Community Services Society, was working at the Molson overdose prevention site steps away on Wednesday when she noticed a crowd had gathered around a nearby bank of portable toilets.

As she and other staff members helped direct traffic for first responders, she wondered if perhaps someone had overdosed.

Learning the body she witnessed being removed was that of an infant was “traumatizing,” she said.

Ms. Beaulieu said people in the neighbourhood are doing the best they can to get by, but the shuttering of many community spaces and social services due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left people with nowhere to turn.

“People who are homeless don’t have a chance of getting anything that they need. People are being displaced as we speak,” she said. “It’s a really hard time, which is why the neighbourhood feels so crazy right now. It’s cheque week, [COVID-19] is happening, there’s no resources for people," Ms. Beaulieu said.

Cheque week refers to the time that people receive monthly disability and social-assistance payments.

The incident follows weeks of questions to public-health officials about conditions in the Downtown Eastside, where people congregate in close quarters on sidewalks and where dozens of tents are set up in a homeless encampment in Oppenheimer Park. The neighbourhood has also been hit hard by the overdose crisis. More than 1,200 people in Vancouver have died of illicit drug overdoses since the beginning of 2016, with many of them in the Downtown Eastside.

Story continues below advertisement

On April 21, Vancouver Coastal Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a chicken-processing plant located near Oppenheimer Park, adding to concerns about potential community transmission.

Mebrat Beyene, executive director of WISH Drop-in Centre Society, a neighbourhood group that provides meals and support to the street-based sex workers, on Thursday said demand for meals has increased since the province declared a state of emergency in March. Women have been coming to the centre for a safe place to shower and sleep, she said, because they feel unsafe on the street.

“I’m grieving for that child and for that woman, I can’t imagine what she must have been going through,” said Ms. Beyene, who added that she did not know the woman’s identity.

Ms. Beyene said she would like to see governments do more to provide housing and financial aid for people such as sex workers who don’t qualify for federal programs.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said Thursday that the province will review the unintended consequences of actions taken related to the COVID-19 pandemic, factoring in race and socioeconomic status.

“We know that people who are underhoused, people who are lower socioeconomic status, will be more affected by [these crises] –​ both the health crisis but also the economic crisis – so we want to be able to measure that,” Dr. Henry said.

Story continues below advertisement

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Wednesday said the city had already taken “unprecedented action” to fight COVID-19 in the Downtown Eastside, including cleaning single room occupancy hotels and delivering thousands of meals to residents, and was expecting more help from the province.

The provincial government is soon expected to announce additional measures related to the Downtown Eastside.

On Thursday, a memorial of flowers, stuffed toys and candles grew in front of the portable toilet.

Miranda Bolton and her husband hung a baby's outfit – a pink ruffled top with floral shorts – to the door of the plastic cubicle and placed several stuffed toys and trinkets around it.

Ms. Bolton said she didn’t know the mother but wanted to pay her respects and that it broke her heart to learn of the baby through the news.

“I wonder how the mother is, if she’ll turn up,” she said. “People don’t know what one person is going through.”

Story continues below advertisement

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies