A number of Anglican parishes and frontline ministries participated in a virtual press conference at Holy Trinity, Trinity Square on May 6 and signed a letter calling on the City of Toronto to do more to support people experiencing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
Representatives from 10 faith communities from Toronto’s downtown east side, including All Saints Church-Community Centre, Toronto Urban Native Ministry, Church of the Redeemer, Holy Trinity, St. James Cathedral and St. Bartholomew’s signed the letter, which outlines six specific demands they feel will save lives and minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on Toronto’s homeless.
The demands include:
- Immediate fast-track of people into safe housing options outside of the overflowing and unsafe shelter system.
- An ongoing and explicit moratorium on evictions for those without alternative options available to them for the duration of the pandemic.
- Dignified and accessible health, hygiene and safety provisions for the most vulnerable. This includes the provision of adequate hygiene facilities, including washrooms, handwashing stations, showers and laundry, at various locations throughout the downtown core.
- Low-barrier and mobile COVID-19 screening across downtown areas.
- Accessible, steady and adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for vulnerable populations, as well as volunteers and staff at both city-funded and non-city-funded organizations.
- Support for shuttered organizations to re-engage service delivery of harm reduction, crisis counselling, primary case management, and health and well-being services in safe and effective ways.