News Release
May 19, 2020

The City of Toronto has reached an interim settlement with respect to a motion for an injunction regarding the City’s unprecedented response to protect those experiencing homelessness in Toronto.

The interim settlement confirms the City’s commitment and on-going work since March to physical distancing in shelter and respite sites of at least two metres of lateral separation between beds or alternate sleeping arrangements, and no use of the upper bunks of bunk beds in any setting. The City is also ensuring that all alternative indoor space offered to anyone living outside meets physical distancing measures.

Toronto has the largest shelter system in Canada, with 75 shelter and respite sites for more than 7,000 people, including almost 3,000 people already sheltered in hotels and family settings. Of the 75 shelter sites located in Toronto, 11 are operated directly by the City. The remaining 64 programs are operated by community non-profit agencies.

Toronto’s Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (SSHA) has worked tirelessly with Toronto Public Health, other City divisions, provincial and federal governments, and the non-profit sector to rapidly tailor solutions to protect the city’s most vulnerable from COVID-19.
At the outset of this COVID-19 pandemic, SSHA conducted an impact assessment to determine the greatest areas of risk so that the City could prioritize its actions. This was done in conjunction with Toronto Public Health.

Transitional housing for those living on the street was secured in April, with 125 apartments in midtown Toronto where clients receive supports, such as food, security and health supports.

Also in April, the City opened a 200-bed recovery facility for people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19. This first-of-its-kind facility in Canada has been done in partnership with University Health Network, Inner City Health Associates and other community health providers. The City has been utilizing its fleet to safely transport individuals awaiting COVID-19 test results and those who test positive to isolation and recovery facilities. The City also worked with the Provincial government and healthcare partners to open a second recovery site.

Implementing a comprehensive response as quickly as possible for Toronto’s most vulnerable has been a City priority. It works closely with Toronto Public Health to address immediate needs, but also to understand the trajectory of the virus so that it can plan and act accordingly.

The City of Toronto has declared an emergency for the first time in its history to respond to this pandemic. Nothing on this scale has ever been experienced by Toronto. The City is pleased to have reached this interim settlement so it can continue to focus its efforts on responding to the health needs of its most vulnerable residents.

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