The City of Toronto has committed to respecting standards of physical distance throughout its accommodation system after the deaths of two residents of the shelter and over 300 cases of COVID-19 at some 21 sites.
A coalition of frontline homeless service providers had filed a lawsuit against the city and the province of Ontario last month alleging failure to protect the lives of homeless people during the pandemic.
The agreement, concluded last Friday and which will be formalized this morning (Tuesday, May 19), comes just before an application for an injunction alleging a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code was to to be heard in the Superior Court of Justice on June 8.
The coalition, which includes the Toronto sanctuary ministries, Indigenous legal services, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, among others, said in a statement that the agreement “will provide a measure of accountability and public transparency that has been sorely lacking in the City’s approach to dealing with the pandemic crisis within the housing system. “
Under the agreement, the city will be required to provide “regular and detailed reports” on its efforts to reach and maintain physical distance standards in the shelter system until it reaches and maintains compliance. for a period of two months.
The terms include a requirement that the city make “every effort to reach without delay and subsequently maintain 2 meters between the beds and end the use of bunk beds in shelters, respites and overnight rest areas. the city”.
The city is also required to “provide shelter to all clients of the shelter system by providing the beds necessary to obtain physical distance”
The agreement includes “all those who have received support services from the city’s shelter system since March 11, including those currently in camps and who have left the shelter system for fear of COVID-19 “.
According to Greg Sanctuary outreach worker, “The city’s 10-week delay in implementing these measures has been disastrous, leading to hundreds of COVID-19 cases and hundreds more forced to sleep outside to protect their health. “