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CALL TO OPEN 1000 NEW SHELTER BEDS IN 2018

Dear Mayor Tory and Toronto City Council,

We are writing to you as a group of Torontonians who love our
city and want the best for it.

To begin, we would like to thank the Mayor for opening the Moss
Park Armoury this winter, and also for his personal support of the
introduction of 1000 new permanent shelter beds. We recognize
the belated but important actions that have been taken to deal with
this crisis thus far. We also recognize the excellent people who are
working on the front lines to help people who are homeless.

However we need more proactive and permanent solutions. We are
writing to ask that city council take five urgent steps:
1. Fund and open a minimum of 1000 new shelter beds in 2018.
2. Keep the Moss Park Armoury open until the beds can be
replaced with permanent shelter beds.
3. Honour the 90 percent occupancy cap on shelters.
4. Make long term advancements in wrap around care such as
getting more mental health, addiction and harm reduction
supports to those who need it.
5. Establish new standards and invest in improving overall
drop-in and shelter conditions.

This is the time to move forward to make important changes for
people facing homelessness in our community. We are very
concerned about the lack of sustained action in providing adequate,
permanent shelter spaces for vulnerable people in Toronto. Every
year, we find ourselves in crisis, with our shelter system collapsing
under the growing demand for space.

Toronto is not living up to the 90% occupancy cap on its shelters,
set by city council in a vote in 2003, and reaffirmed in 2013, nor
are we meeting the United Nations basic shelter standards such as
the amount of space per person (3.5 sqm) or the minimum toilet
and shower ratio per person.

This year, we were woefully unprepared for another, potentially
deadly winter. The changes we are asking for will prepare us for
next winter and throughout the year.

The current situation of cramming 400 more “spaces” into already
overcrowded shelters, and over 700 people sleeping nightly in non-
real shelters is untenable, unsafe and unsustainable. These 700 plus
people currently estimated to be using Out of The Cold, drop-ins,
and winter respite centers will be displaced when these facilities
close in April 2018. In addition, over 400 people have been
documented by the city’s last street needs assessment to be
sleeping outside.

Those working directly in the shelter system and on the streets
have been telling City Council for years that we need more shelter
beds. In addition to dignity, adequate shelter is critical to improved
personal safety, better health outcomes, and greater likelihood of
employment.

Beyond the improvement in shelter beds, the data also supports a
chronic need for more permanent subsidized housing. Shelters are
important but people also have the right to more stable living
conditions. We call on the City and its partners to look at a breadth
of potential solutions to increase access to subsidized housing.

We are one of Canada's most affluent cities. But we are failing our
most vulnerable population. We are writing this letter to say that
we will not accept this lack of compassion, justice and common
sense in our city. Please act on all five of these important requests.

Thank you.
Jen Agg , Restaurateur/Writer
Margaret Atwood, Writer
Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, TIFF
Steven Barrett, Managing Partner, Goldblatt Partners
Philip B. Berger, O.Ont, MD
Dave Bidini , Writer/Musician
Gary Bloch, Family Physician, Inner City Health Associates
Sandy Buchman, MD CCFP (PC) FCFP, Family Physician Practicing
in Palliative Care, Palliative Care for the Homeless (PEACH)
Program, Inner City Health Associates, Toronto
Martha Burns, Actor
Shirley Blumberg , Architect
The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada
Jo Connelly , Executive Director, Inner City Family Health Team
Wendy Crewson, Actor
David Cronenberg, Filmmaker
Ron Dembo, Fintec Entrepreneur, Environmentalist
Kevin Drew, Co-Founder of Broken Social Scene/Arts and Crafts
records
Kelly Doctor, Lawyer
Naheed Dosani, MD
Kathleen Doukas , MD, CCFP
Atom Egoyan , Filmmaker
Leslie Feist, Musician
Samantha Green , Family Physician
Ken Greenberg, Author/Urban Designer
Dr. Doris Greenspun, CEO, Registered Nursing Association of
Ontario
Paul Gross , Actor/Filmmaker
Angela Ho, Psychiatrist
Stephen Hwang, MD, MPH, FRCPC Professor, Department of
Medicine, University of Toronto
Matthew Jocelyn, Artistic and General Director - Canadian Stage
Mia Kirshner, Actor
Eugene Levy, Actor
Margaret MacMillan, Historian
Danielle Martin, Family Physician, Women’s College Hospital
Tatiana Maslany, Actor
Rachel McAdams, Actor
Kent Monkman, Artist
Catherine O’Hara, Actor
Michael Ondaatje, Writer
Aaron Orkin, Family Physician
Dr. Mitesh Patel, Adolescent Outreach Psychiatrist, Chair of BOD,
Inner City Health Associates, Forensic and Child Psychiatrist, CAMH
Lecturer, UofT
Emma Phillips, Lawyer
Sarah Polley, Filmmaker
Steve Pomedii, Family Physician
Ethan Poskanzer, Lawyer
Michael Redhill, Writer
Cheryl J. Rowe, Community Psychiatrist
Clayton Ruby, Constitutional Lawyer, CM
Donald Schmitt, Architect
Lorne Sossin, Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School
Vicky Stergiopoulos , CHA Psychiatrist
Tomislav Svoboda MD PhD, Associate Professor, University of
Toronto, Family Physician, Seaton House, St. Stephen’s Corner Drop-
in
Joshua Tepper, Family Physician
Priya Vasa, Family Physician
Susan Woolhouse MD, Family Physician
Jesse Wente, Writer, Broadcaster

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