An online form has been launched at COVIDShelterRights.ca that allows anyone to anonymously report situations where the City of Toronto is not living up to its commitments to protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 in its shelter system.
On May 15, 2020, the City committed to use its best efforts to (1) ensure two meters of distance between all shelter beds; (2) end the use of bunk beds; and (3) provide a bed for anyone who has used the shelter system since March 11, 2020.
The City made these commitments after a coalition of public-interest organizations filed a lawsuit on April 24, 2020. Coalition members include:
- Aboriginal Legal Services
- Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
- Black Legal Action Centre
- Canadian Civil Liberties Association
- HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario
- Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto
COVID-19 is still a serious problem for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto. To date, more than 528 have contracted the virus, at least 4 have died, and there have been at least 36 COVID-19 outbreaks at Toronto shelters.
Anyone who has information that the City is not living up to its commitments is encouraged to fill out the form at COVIDShelterRights.ca. People can also upload photos and videos of shelter conditions. People do not have to give their names, and any information provided is confidential and protected by legal privilege.
Information collected through the form may be used by the coalition in their lawsuit against the City of Toronto, in order to enforce compliance with the agreed measures to protect the health of people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coalition’s press release can be found here.
More information about the lawsuit can be found here.