City of Toronto Committee Receives Recommendations on Need For Safe and Accessible Shelters

Mar 19, 2013

Frontline workers report that individuals are frequently denied shelter beds in Toronto. Even more unsettling, the number of deaths among homeless individuals increased dramatically in 2012.

In response, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) organized an emergency meeting on February 15th 2013. HPAP members joined as OCAP set up an “emergency shelter” in front of the Mayor’s office in Toronto City Hall.

On March 4th 2013, the Shelter, Support, and Housing Administration issued an Update on Emergency Shelter Services to the Community Development and Recreation Committee.

Subsequently, on March 18th 2013, the Committee heard from frontline workers, community members, and city councillors concerned about the increasing number of individuals being turned away from shelter beds in Toronto. HPAP member, Anne Egger, shared her concerns regarding the current state of Toronto’s emergency shelter services in a letter to the committee.

The Toronto Star article, Two Inconvenient Truths About Toronto’s Shelter System, summarizes some of the barriers that individuals trying to access a shelter encounter.

City Hall Emergency Shelter Feb 15 2013 5 City Hall Emergency Shelter 2013

HPAP Hamilton Hosts Live Radio Segment For The 2013 Homelessness Marathon

Feb 20, 2013

2013 Homelessness Marathon: Live Segment on Health & Precarious Housing in Hamilton

On February 20, 2013, Health Justice Radio Collective, in collaboration with Health Providers Against Poverty Hamilton, the YWCA Hamilton, and CFMU 93.3FM brought the 2013 Homelessness Marathon to Hamilton. The marathon is a live, national 14-hour radio broadcast about Homelessness and Housing Issues, with a focus on the voices of those directly impacted.

According to a 2011 report prepared by the Social Planning and Research Council, in Hamilton shelter use by women is increasing, while shelter use by men is decreasing. There are 195 beds for men compared to 127 beds for women, 90% of which are specifically designated for women fleeing violence. Women’s shelters routinely turn away clients owing to a lack of capacity.

In a live radio segment, recorded at the YWCA Hamilton, we hear from six courageous women who tell us how precarious housing in Hamilton has impacted their health.

Listen Here

Letter To Toronto City Councillors In Support of the Access Not Fear Campaign

Toronto City Councillors
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N1

Feb 13, 2013

Re: Community Development and Recreation Committee Recommendations on Undocumented Workers in Toronto, Motion 18.5

Dear Councillor;

I am writing on behalf of Health Providers Against Poverty, a group of physicians, nurses, and students committed to improving the health of individuals who live in poverty. We ally with other community organizations to promote policy that recognizes social factors as the key determinants of health of individuals living in Ontario.

Today, we join Toronto-based community groups and the Solidarity City Network in supporting the Access Not Fear Campaign in calling for improved access to services for undocumented workers in our city.

As you know, the Community Development and Recreation Committee recently adopted motion 18.5, which commits the City of Toronto to providing services for undocumented workers, as well as advocating on behalf of undocumented workers at the provincial and federal levels.

As reported by York University Professor Luin Goldring, there are an estimated 200,000 workers residing in Toronto without legal authorization to work. These individuals face many challenges including denial of services offered to other Torontonians, such as health services, housing, and social support. Individuals without legal status are also particularly likely to have to accept work for low wages, under poor and unsafe work conditions. This poses a serious threat to their mental and physical health. We believe that increased access to city services will mitigate the health impact of living as undocumented members of the community and lessen health risks for those living in poverty.

Undocumented workers abide by our laws, pay taxes, and make significant contributions to our community. They perform jobs that have benefited many of us, without being recognized for the difficult working conditions experienced. Yet, undocumented workers are not afforded the same access to health and social services as those with legal status. This is deeply unjust and tarnishes Toronto’s historical reputation as a welcoming city.

Beyond the impacts on individuals, it seems critical for the City to review the contributions made by undocumented workers to our economy and within our communities. We must reflect on the economic and social consequences of excluding these valuable members of our society from the services provided to other Torontonians.

We look forward to an opportunity for consultation on this issue, and for Toronto to defend the human rights of residents in this city.

Sincerely,

Katie Dorman
For the Steering Committee of
Health Providers Against Poverty

Download a PDF version of the Letter