November 20, 2019
This past month there have been eight reported homeless deaths in Toronto. The city has failed to shelter the most vulnerable. All seven respite centres are full, the two 24-hour women’s drop-ins and the Out of the Cold program are over-capacity on many nights. The assessment and referral centre on Peter Street is unable to operate as a referral centre as there are insufficient beds in the system. Instead, 50 people sleep in chairs there each night. They are the lucky ones. Hundreds upon hundreds of people are forced to sleep outside due to failed shelter and housing policies. They are in grave danger. Their precarious situation has been exacerbated by the onslaught of an early winter leaving them completely exposed and vulnerable. A walk through the city confirms what frontline workers are telling us: there have never been this many people sleeping in our streets and parks before. The number of beds the city plans to bring online will not be sufficient to accommodate those in need. Furthermore, during an extreme cold weather alert there is only one warming centre that sleeps 50 people for the entire city. In order to prevent more deaths and suffering we request that the mayor enact the city’s emergency plan immediately.