HPAP held a press conference today (January 31) to highlight the findings of our report on conditions in the City of Toronto Temporary Respite Shelters and to call on municipal and provincial governments to act on the city’s shelter crisis. Speakers at the press conference included HPAP member Dr. Michaela Beder, Street Nurse Cathy Crowe, Patricia O’Connell from Sistering, Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist, and city councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Joe Cressy.
What: Press Conference by Healthcare Providers Against Poverty to Release Report on Conditions Within Winter Respite Centres
Where: City Hall – City of Toronto, 2nd floor
When: January 31, 2018, 12:30 – 1PM (Meet at 12:15)
Speakers will include: Introduction by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam; Person with lived experience (TBA); Michaela Beder, MD, Psychiatrist, Member of HPAP; Cathy Crowe, RN; Patricia O’Connell, Executive Director, Sistering.
What to bring: Healthcare provider-identifying gear!
Toronto’s shelter system is in an undeclared state of emergency. As an annual response to cold winter temperatures coupled with an overcrowded shelter system, the City of Toronto (i.e. “the City “) opens temporary Winter Respite Centres, also known as warming centres. In order to better understand the state of these ad hoc responses to homelessness, Health Providers Against Poverty (HPAP) visited eight Winter Respite Centres, as well as the two 24-Hour Drop-ins for Women and Trans People. Our findings demonstrate that Winter Respite Centres and Drop-ins for Women and Trans People fail to meet the most basic standards as set out by the United Nations and the City itself.
We are calling on the city to immediately open 1,500 new and permanent shelter beds; the provincial government to immediately increase social assistance rates to match the basic income pilot study amounts; and on the federal government to spend the new $11.2 billion allocated to the national housing strategy within the next two years.
You can find the full report here:
Yesterday, we launched a petition to urge political leaders from all parties in Ontario to collaborate to put the recommendations in the income security reform working group report into action. Following the roadmap for income security outlined in this report has the potential to make a huge impact on poverty in Ontario while making the province a world-leader in income security along the way!
You can find the petition here: http://chn.ge/2DhQSm3
Please sign and share widely with all of your networks. We would also greatly appreciate retweets and shares on Twitter and Facebook.
On January 10th, HPAP members Dr. Michaela Beder and Dr. Sarah Griffiths delivered deputations to the City of Toronto’s Budget Committee. Both are powerful calls for the city to take meaningful actions to improve living conditions for Toronto’s vulnerably-housed population in the context of the current shelter crisis and for more long term solutions.
We featured Dr. Beder’s manuscript in part 1 of our post (see below). For part 2 we have Dr. Griffths’ manuscript:
HPAP members Dr. Michaela Beder and Dr. Sarah Griffiths delivered deputations to the City of Toronto’s Budget Committee on January 10th, 2018. Both are powerful calls for the city to take meaningful actions to improve living conditions for Toronto’s vulnerably-housed population.
They focus on 6 key recommendations:
- Increase long term shelter space by 1500 beds to meet Toronto’s 90% shelter occupancy target.
- All shelter staff should be trained in harm reduction techniques and philosophy (e.g. naloxone administration for people with an opiate overdose)
- Keep at least 1000 interim shelter beds open throughout the summer until the new shelter beds are open.
- Increase affordable housing opportunities by increasing rent-geared-to income housing, repairing old TCHC units, creating at least 1,000 new affordable rental housing units a year, and increasing supportive and mental health housing.
- Increase tax revenue by raising the property tax, instituting a vacant property tax, reducing tax incentives for developers, and reinstituting the vehicle registration tax.
- Change the definition of “affordable housing” from the average cost of market rent, to the amount someone on social assistance or Old Age Security can afford, ie “deeply affordable.”
In this 2 part blog post, we are posting the manuscripts for both deputations. Part 1 will be Dr. Beder’s deputation (see below) and part 2 will be Dr. Griffiths’.
Check out this excellent Op Ed on the Toronto Shelter Crisis published earlier this week in the Toronto Sun. It’s written by Dr. Doris Grinspun and Dr. Lynn Anne Mulrooney of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO). Stay tuned for more updates on this issue soon!