CCLA is grateful for the support and pro bono contribution of our wonderful litigation team and their firms and organizations: Jessica Orkin, Geetha Philipupillai (Goldblatt Partners LLP), Andrew Porter, Sahar Talebi (Lenczner Slaght LLP) and Emily Hill (Aboriginal Legal Services). Our Coalition received support from Legal Aid Ontario’s Test Case Program.
Protecting the most vulnerable and homeless communities in Canada especially during COVID-19 is an urgent matter.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 among homeless communities, on March 29th, CCLA wrote to Toronto’s Mayor and Council to demand the city immediately create appropriate physical distancing and safe accommodation for people without homes. On April 20th CCLA joined forces with several other organizations, sending another letter to the City, and ultimately filing a constitutional and human rights challenge in court.
We are arguing that the City is operating its shelter system and maintaining Standards that are discriminatory and violate the right to life and security of the person of shelter residents under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Calls from public health and elected officials to ‘stay home’ and self-isolate have demonstrated the importance of safe shelter as a matter of public health. Obviously, self-isolating is impossible without adequate shelter.
The slow pace at which the City is acting has led to a dangerous situation in which hundreds of people experiencing homelessness have contracted, or are at an immediate risk for contracting COVID-19.