The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario along with a coalition of housing and human rights advocates is calling on the City of Toronto to take immediate steps to update its Shelter and Respite Standards and provide housing to Toronto’s homeless population. A letter was sent to the City. The coalition has made the difficult decision to initiate legal proceedings if the City does not take urgent actions to address this pandemic crisis that will disproportionately impact the health and safety of those experiencing homelessness.
A mass outbreak of coronavirus cases is inevitable in Toronto, if the City does not take urgent action now. As of April 20, 2020, there were over 110 confirmed coronavirus cases of people experiencing homelessness in 11 shelters and respite centres. Meanwhile, the majority of the 1200 hotel rooms that the City of Toronto leased to temporarily house homeless individuals remain empty. The failure to immediately facilitate social distancing in existing City shelters and respite centres, and urgent action to house is a breach of the constitutional rights of those who are precariously housed. It disproportionately impacts the lives of Black and Indigenous residents, as well as people living with disabilities, who are overrepresented in Toronto’s homeless population.
The current City of Toronto’s Shelter and Respite Standards are Inconsistent with Federal and Provincial Health Guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is putting the lives of those experiencing homelessness at risk and is a violation of the Charter right to life and security of the person. Not only is the City’s decision to impose deficient spacing standards forcing people to live in a dangerous situation, but it has put the lives of shelter workers and their families at risk.
The cost of inaction is not only unconstitutional, but it is cruel and endangers the health and safety of every Toronto resident.
The coalition members include:
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)