Save the Hope Shelter! Toronto Can't Lose 124 Shelter Beds!

News that the Salvation Army Hope Shelter, at McCaul and College, is set to close on April 15 constitutes a devastating blow. The shelter system is horribly overcrowded and all assurances that the City’s policy of keeping occupancy levels at no more than 90% will finally be adhered to have proven to be false. This particular shelter, located in the underserviced west end, is consistently operating at maximum capacity. Four homeless men died in January and the removal of 124 beds from the system simply can’t be allowed to happen.

Emergency Action: Phone/Email the Minister Today, Prevent a Man from Being Made Homeless Due to SAMS Errors!

Phone/Email the Ministry Today (info below)

A 53 year old man with numerous health issues, including an upcoming double bypass surgery, Andrew McLean, is about to be evicted because of an ODSP computer error. Since the rollout of the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) computer system last autumn, Andrew has seen his life turned upside down. Like many Ontarians on social assistance and disability, due to “glitches” in the new system, Andrew received his cheque late. His landlord initiated eviction proceedings against him based on "late payment of rent," and won an eviction order at the Landlord Tenant Board for Saturday, February 28.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services has acknowledged that they are to blame for this fiasco. Andrew’s worker has written several letters stating that they are working on fixing issues like these with SAMS. This hasn’t happened and shows no sign of happening soon. The Ministry has refused to do anything other than say "we’re working on it," while a man who needs significant and pressing medical help is left worrying about where he will sleep Sunday night.

This has had a very negative impact on Mr. McLean, who says: “It’s running me down, I feel tired all the time, I get chest pains and headaches because I don’t know what to do. It’s been an incredible stress. I can’t live my regular routine due to stress like this. And nobody can give me a straight answer about how to fix this, a straight answer about where I am supposed to live!”

We refuse to accept half-hearted excuses and apologies from the very Ministry that put Andrew in this situation in the first place. OCAP demands:

• That the Ministry prevent this eviction or, failing that, take on the responsibility of finding Andrew affordable, accessible and secure housing, given that they are the ones responsible for him facing the prospect of homelessness.

• That the SAMS experiment be deemed a failure, and that all OW/ODSP recipients impacted by it resume receiving benefits in the same manner and amount as prior to its rollout

The Ministry of Community and Social Services is responsible for the fact that Andrew is facing homelessness, and no excuses or stalling can change that fact. If Andrew isn’t housed immediately, join OCAP on Wednesday, March 4 at 12:00PM at the Macdonald block of Ontario Government Buildings (900 Bay, just past Wellesley) where OCAP will confront the MCSS and demand housing for Andrew, along with a repeal of SAMS, ensuring benefits are available to all Ontarians who need them, regardless of whatever computer system the province decides to use. We won't accept any more passing of the buck, just give us what we are owed!


Dr. Helena Jaczek
Ministry phone: 416-325-5225
Constituency phone: 905-294-4931
Twitter: @HelenaJaczek

Ted McMeekin
Ministry phone: 416-585-7000
Constituency phone: 905-690-6552
Twitter: @TedMcMeekin

OCAP Delegation of Mayor's Office Confronts Continued Overcrowding in the Homeless Shelters

A delegation of OCAP members and supporters today went to Mayor John Tory's office to demand that promises to reduce Toronto shelter occupancy levels to a maximum of 90% be implemented by opening new space.

The doors to Tory's office were locked and guarded by security guards and cops. For about 45 minutes, it was not clear if a meeting with the delegation would be granted. We announced that, if they refused to deal with our concerns, we would leave and begin intervening at the Mayor's public functions until a meeting was provided. Shortly after this, the Deputy Mayor and two senior staff were made available and three of us were permitted, under police escort, into the inner area.

Meeting in a boardroom, we conveyed to the City representatives, how shocking the level of overcrowding is at the moment. Warming centres, only open during the coldest weather, are packed and official figures, though they confirm the 90% policy has not been met, seriously understate the full scale of the problem. Within the men's system, even the notorious Seaton House that many try to avoid having to use, is faced with such demand that cots are being put down in common areas.

$3.8 million to light up the Bloor Viaduct for the Pan Am Games?

January 21, 2015

To Executive Committee of Toronto City Council:

Along with many others in this City, we would like to express our outrage that some $3.8 million will be allocated to light up the Bloor Viaduct for the Pan Am Games.

Recently, three homeless men died on the streets of this City and another perished as he sought respite from the cold at the Peter Street Referral Centre. The waiting list for housing stands at close to 170,000 people while those struggling to obtain or retain a place to live are routinely denied access to the Housing Stabilization Fund by Toronto Social Services offices. Tens of thousands of people in this City turn to food banks in order to survive.

Recently, the community had to take action to ensure there were a few more spaces in the homeless shelter system and to win the belated opening of long promised drop in space for homeless women and trans people. Yet, when the circus comes to town and a privileged few stand to make a killing, money is no object and millions can be allocated for something so tacky as the lighting up a bridge.

We call on you to kill the lights on the Bloor Viaduct. Instead, we demand you use the $3.8 million to open up TCHC units that are now standing empty because lack of repair has made them uninhabitable while tens of thousands wait for a decent place to live. To proceed with this obscene misuse of public resources will be an insult to communities living in poverty that we shall have no alternative to respond to.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty