Last week, a twenty eight year old homeless indigenous man perished in Toronto, after staff at a drop in had to tell him that the facility was too overwhelmed to provide a place of shelter for the night.
For months, homeless people, advocates and service providers have been telling Mayor John Tory that the shelter system is hopelessly overcrowded and that a death was all but inevitable. We were so sure of this horrible reality in OCAP that we had a contingency plan to hold a memorial at Tory’s luxury condo in the event of a death. Last Sunday, we had to do just that.
Unbelievably, the response of the Mayor’s office to the tragedy has been to double down on the evasions. Rather than to open the federal armouries or some equivalent location, as the community had demanded, to try and save lives, Tory and his entourage have ducked and weaved to try and deflect the blame they can’t escape.
Is the Mayor of Toronto visiting your community? Call the John Tory Tip Line!
Last week, a homeless man died after an overwhelmed drop-in was not even able to offer him a mat on the floor. The place was so crowded that nine others could not be taken in that night.
Toronto’s shelter system is bursting at the seams and homeless people and their allies having been telling that to Mayor John Tory for months. He was warned that the level of overcrowding was life threatening and urged to open up the federal armouries to take the pressure off the system. He failed to act and a human life was lost. The lives of many others are at risk.
Despite this grim situation, the Mayor is still not taking the emergency action that is needed. Last weekend, we held a memorial for the man who died at Tory’s luxury condo. He didn’t like that much and he wasn’t supposed to. We want to increase the pressure and force him to open space.
We intend to confront John Tory as he goes about his round of Mayoral events, cutting ribbons and kissing babies. If he is coming to your community or you learn of a function he will be attending, please call OCAP at (416) 925-6939 or email us at email@example.com
Thanks for any and all tips and information.
Sunday, February 17 | 5pm | Mayor John Tory’s Condo (1 Bedford Road)
[Bedford and Bloor, Outside St.George Subway Station] | Facebook Event
After months of ignoring the alarm bells raised by homeless people and their allies, and on the same night that Mayor John Tory pushed through a further 2.6% cut to the shelter system, a deadly tragedy people fought so hard to prevent was unfolding on the streets. On Wednesday night, as City Council passed a budget that further gutted a system already bursting at the seams, a 28 year old indigenous man was trying to get into a warming centre in Kensington Market. He was told the centre was, yet again, full and that he could only be placed on a waiting list. Denied even the most basic shelter from the elements, he died a few hours later in what may have been a fentanyl overdose. We know, however, that this young man, whose identity is not being revealed at this time, died because he had been driven out onto the streets because of official negligence and by the City’s utter disregard for the lives of the homeless.
One homeless person dies in Toronto every ten days. Yet, the City continues to under-fund and under-resource shelters and boards up thousand of public housing units. It refuses to meet occupancy targets that allow homeless people even the most basic assurance of survival. In a city with sky-high rents and declining social assistance rates, the misery of the poor and homeless is not a surprise but has been willfully created and must be ended.
On Sunday, we will gather in front of John Tory’s $2.4 million luxury condo to remember the man whose life was taken so cruelly and needlessly. Our tribute to him will take the form, though, of fighting for the living and demanding that no one else be allowed to perish through the kind of the shameful neglect that caused this death. Please bring flowers, candles and other symbols of respect and mourning. We will lay them where they deserve to be laid, at John Tory’s doorstep.
On February 9, Mayor John Tory came to the pro-business CD Howe Institute to tell them all about the austerity he is imposing on poor and homeless people in Toronto. A strong OCAP picket was gathered outside to give him the welcome he deserved.
As this City faces a wide array of cutbacks and service reductions, as they prepare to board up desperately needed public housing for lack of repairs, as services for homeless people are gutted and, as the conditions of overcrowding in the shelters go beyond the level of a crisis, John Tory will be pocketing a 2.1% increase in his ample salary. He is a Mayor who is building a neoliberal city in which all but his rich friends are pushed to the margins and in which a war on the poor is ramped up.
Our picket was loud and not to the liking of the business crowd trying to make their way in to hear Tory’s speech. Some managed to get through and others gave up in dismay. Tory himself delayed his entry but was finally rushed in through a side entrance with a strong force of cops to clear his path, pushing someone down in the process. A Mayor who talks of ‘inclusiveness,’ came out to address rich people with an escort of cops to protect him from the poor.
The days when John Tory could pose as anything other than a political representative of the developers and moneybags are over. Our picket was an indication of the movement against him and all he stands for that is emerging in Toronto. Our fight against his agenda of poverty and his abandonment of the homeless will continue. Fight to win!
80 people have died in the last two years as a direct result of homelessness in Toronto. That’s one homeless person dying every 10 days. In 1985, people fighting homelessness started keeping track of these senseless, and entirely preventable deaths. Since that time, they’ve recorded over 800 deaths—lives sacrificed in service of a perverse economic logic that demands ever more cuts from the destitute and grants ever more comforts to the rich. Talk to anyone who has used the City’s emergency shelter system, or anyone who works with people using shelters, and a grim picture emerges of chronic overcrowding, bug infested dormitories, the recurrent spread of contagious diseases, and the perpetual lack of sufficient beds.
From the Members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty: February 1, 2017
We have learned that, in the lead up to the austerity Budget that you and your co-thinkers on the City Council are working on, you will be speaking at the pro-business C.D. Howe Institute on February 9. We intend to be there as well to deliver a clear message.
Toronto is a City of huge wealth. There are whole neighbourhoods of very rich people and banking and corporate interests are headquartered here. Yet, the revenue that could be obtained from the properties of such people is scandalously disregarded. Now, you embark on a course that will cut vital services across the board.
In the face of your impending attack, we demand:
- No cuts to Toronto Community Housing. No more homes can be boarded up when the waiting list for housing is so vast. Increase funding to the vital Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) to prevent people losing their housing and enable them to obtain it.
- No cuts to the homeless shelter system and related supports. Expand life saving warming centre and drop in services.
- Enforce the 90% maximum occupancy shelter policy, stop closing facilities in the central area of the City and, as an immediate emergency measure to deal with the appalling crisis of overcrowding in the shelters, open the federal armouries to the homeless.
The unprecedented austerity measures you are imposing on communities in this City make a farce of your claim function in an ‘inclusive’ fashion. You are conducting a war on the poor that is harsh and brutal and we intend to give a lead on the 9th in terms of building resistance to your attacks.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
Rally and Picket to Fight Tory’s Hypocrisy: Thursday, February 9 | 11am | 67 Yonge Street [Just south of King St] [Food Provided]
Facebook Event | Stop Tory’s Hypocrisy! | Download Poster | Download Flyer
Read our open letter to Mayor Tory | John Tory’s Lies Cost Lives
On February 9, John Tory will be speaking at the C.D Howe Institute, a right-wing think-tank dedicated to the needs of the rich. He will be assuring Toronto’s wealthy that the budget he has in store for 2017 will benefit them.
We don’t doubt it will be, and we know full well what it will do to the poor and working class people of this city. Built within his austerity budget is a devastating cut to the already failing Shelter, Support and Housing administration. This in a context where homeless shelters are bursting at the seams, rents are sky high, it takes more than 10 years to get public housing, and rooming houses are being sold off to greedy developers.
Tory won’t stop until we make him.
On February 9, join us to make sure Budget 2017 isn’t a death sentence for people on the streets, and a push onto the streets for the thousands of other desperately holding onto housing with their fingernails. #FightToWin