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May 19, 2020 

CCLA and Coalition Partners Secure Commitment From City of Toronto to
Create and Maintain Critical Physical Distancing Standards Within Shelter System

The commitment results from an agreement reached between parties of the lawsuit

The City of Toronto has finally committed to enforceable physical distancing standards across its shelter system, in response to a lawsuit filed last month. CCLA, in coalition with frontline homelessness service providers and human rights groups filed the suit against the City and the Province of Ontario for failing to urgently protect the lives of those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

At this time, there have been over 300 confirmed cases of covid in  the shelter system across at least 21 sites. Tragically, two people have already lost their lives. The wildfire spread of this disease in the shelter system should have been prevented. CCLA first wrote to the City about our concerns on March 29th of this year.

CCLA and its coalition partners will be monitoring the situation closely. The agreement requires the City to provide regular, detailed reports about its efforts and progress in achieving and sustaining physical distancing standards – a measure aimed at bringing transparency and accountability within this humanitarian crisis.

The terms of the agreement are as follows:

  1. The City is required to use best efforts to “achieve without delay and thereafter sustain” 2 metres between beds and end the use of bunk beds across the City’s shelters, respites, and overnight drop-ins.
  2. The City is required to provide shelter to all shelter system clients by making available such beds as is necessary to achieve physical distancing standards across the shelter system.
  3. All individuals who received any support services from the City’s shelter system since March 11, including those now in encampments who left the shelter system because of fears of COVID-19, are included within the scope of the City’s obligations under the settlement.
  4. The City will report regularly on its progress until it reaches and sustains compliance for 2 months.

The agreement was reached between the parties on Friday May 15th and was formalized this morning. A copy of the public summary of the agreement is available here.

The Coalition organizations are: Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto, Aboriginal Legal Services, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Black Legal Action Centre, Canadian Civil Liberties Association and HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario.

To read more about this issue and case, click here.

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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