On Friday April 3rd from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, help Health Providers Against Poverty flood Mayor Tory and City Hall’s phone lines demanding #HousingNow for people experiencing homelessness in response to COVID-19. People crammed into Toronto’s shelters are at incredible risk and we need action now!

This is how you can help flood the phone lines:

Step 1: Call John Tory’s office at 416-397-2489, then press option 5. Call once, call twice, call multiple times! 

Step 2: Call your city councillor. City councillors care about what their constituents think and Tory needs their support to take action!

Enter your address to find your city councillor’s information here

Step 3: Take a picture of yourself calling John Tory or your councillor and post on social media with #HousingNow. Share this message by liking, retweeting and posting on social media! Spread the word about this action to your networks! 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to help spread the message!

Like our Facebook post and retweet us to keep the momentum going!

WHY #HousingNow?

  • Over 7000 people are staying in Toronto’s shelter system
  • People experiencing homelessness are at higher risk to contract severe COVID disease.
  • Due to the shelter and housing crisis, thousands are sleeping in close quarters in shelters, respite sites and drop-in centres across Toronto and are unable to practice #PhysicalDistancing.
  • Putting 2 metres between large groups of people in crowded settings is NOT ENOUGH
  • The City of Toronto has to take responsibility for people experiencing homelessness who find themselves in these deplorable conditions.

We are asking the city to take action on the following five demands:

Here is a script to help you make the call:

Hi, my name is ______ and I am a ______(person experiencing homelessness, student, healthcare provider, shelter worker, mother, business owner etc.) in Toronto. I’m calling the mayor’s office because I’m very concerned about people experiencing homelessness in this crisis. In Toronto, we are facing a homelessness and overdose crisis which will only be worsened by COVID-19 if we do not take dramatic and urgent action. 

In these extraordinary times, I urge the City to use extraordinary measures to take action: 

  1. Urgently open hotel rooms and apartments for all and increase social rent-geared-to-income housing. No one should be left behind.
  • Over 7000 people are staying in Toronto’s shelter system
  • People experiencing homelessness are at higher risk to contract severe COVID disease.
  • Thousands are sleeping in close quarters in shelters, respite sites and drop-in centres across Toronto and are unable to practice true #PhysicalDistancing.
  • Putting 2 metres between large groups of people in crowded settings is NOT ENOUGH
  • Crowded shelter conditions contribute to the rapid spread of head lice, scabies, influenza and Group A streptococcus. These same conditions will dramatically increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • The City of Toronto has to take responsibility for people experiencing homelessness who find themselves in these deplorable conditions.
  • Provision of supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness is a necessary step in addressing homelessness in Toronto in the long term.
  1. Develop a city-wide task force to ensure continuity of social and health services. The task force should prominently include people who use drugs, people experiencing homelessness, and frontline workers.
  • Engaging people who have lived experience with homelessness and substance use provides an integral perspective necessary to addressing this crisis.
  1. Expand safer opioid supply prescribing programs.
  • People who use drugs are limited in their ability to adhere to physical distancing and self-isolation due to such barriers as criminalization of drugs and drug use, necessitating reliance on an unregulated market.
  • Harm reduction guidelines recommend avoiding using alone, but with COVID-19 preventing access to supervised consumption sites and overdose prevention services, the risk for fatal overdoses increases.
  1. Immediately ensure that all sites have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for shelter staff, drop-in staff, and for any shelter residents and drop-in users exhibiting symptoms. Streamline access to testing sites. Quickly transfer shelter residents experiencing symptoms out of crowded sites.
  • Having adequate PPE for all staff and for shelter residents experiencing symptoms is crucial to tracking and preventing further spread of COVID-19.
  1. Implement rapid outreach screening and testing at shelters and drop-ins when there is a known positive COVID-19 result.
  • Broadly accessible screening and contact tracing are essential measures to addressing this pandemic and helping to #FlattenTheCurve

At this time, Health Providers Against Poverty urges the City to use extraordinary measures to immediately house as many people experiencing homelessness as possible. The City must use empty hotels and student residences, pre-fabs and trailers on City property, government buildings, and rent supplements/housing allowances to move as many people as possible out of danger – immediately.

We urge you to take action, your intervention has the potential to save thousands of lives in our city. No one should be left behind.