Isolation centre for unhoused people with COVID-19 nearly full as Omicron moves through shelters

Strain on Toronto hotel that serves as isolation centre comes as 34 homeless shelters in outbreak

by Muriel Draaisma, Kayla Hounsell

As 34 homeless shelters grapple with COVID-19 outbreaks, an isolation centre for unhoused people with the virus is 95 per cent full and that means the facility will accept only complex cases.

City officials have directed shelter staff to develop plans that will enable unhoused people infected with the virus to isolate “in situ,” which means remaining in place at the shelters in which they are staying.

Homeless advocates say people who try to access a bed at the isolation and recovery centre are not having any luck and they are urging the city to enlist outside help, including from the federal government, to manage the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in shelters.

They say the city needs to create space in the isolation centre. And they say they believe the shelter system may be collapsing because of worker burnout, staff shortages and the recent number of deaths in the shelter system.

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Advocates say Toronto shelters are full as temperatures plunge to deadly levels

By Karen Longwell – BlogTO

Advocates for people struggling with homelessness are raising the alarm on a deadly situation facing Toronto.

As the city plunges into a deep freeze, people living in precarious housing situations are being left, literally, out in the cold.

“It was -20C this morning, people can’t access shelter beds and the warming centres weren’t open. Even with warming centres opening tonight, the City’s plan is wholly inadequate,” states a release issued Friday from the Shelter and Housing Justice Network (SHJN).

On Jan. 6, the adult emergency shelter system was at 97 per cent capacity, and the family sector at 99 per cent capacity and there were 29 shelters classified as being an active COVID-19 outbreak. Residents lacked access to proper masks, and had low vaccination rates.

(click here to read more)

Unprecedented Increase in Toronto Homeless Deaths – Dec 14, 2021: Homeless Memorial

Media Advisory- Unprecedented Increase in Homeless Deaths
Date: December 14, 2021
What: Homeless Memorial adding at least 27 names this month.
When: Tuesday, December 14, 12:00 (at the Homeless Memorial)
Where: 19 Trinity Sq, (by the south steps in front of the Homeless Memorial)
Important: Please wear a mask and physically distance

City Council must immediately strike a task force charged with taking all reasonable
steps to reduce such deaths.

Immediately expand overdose prevention, education, training and implement the
recommendations of Toronto Shelter-Hotel Overdose Preparedness Assessment

Immediately incorporate 2,250 permanent, non-congregate shelter beds into the

Repeal the no camping bylaw.

Increase the target of newly attributed housing allowances in 2021 from 1,440 to

Freeze all evictions with the emergency powers of the Emergency Management and
Civil Protection Act.

Adopt SHJN’s Winter Plan in Full

Livestream: Will be at the same link as the Toronto Homeless Memorial                               

Media Contacts:
Lorraine Lam:

Greg Cook:

Public Action to call for Raising the Social Assistance Rates

We’re Here For Our Money / Rally to Raise the Rates

Oct 21, 2021 @ 4 PM – Public Action to call for Raising the Social Assistance Rates

Join OCAP as we call for the Province of Ontario to immediately increase Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program monthly rates!

OCAP will be holding a demonstration at 438 University Ave on Oct. 21 at 4 pm to demand a meeting with the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, Merrilee Fullerton in regards to Raising the Rates of those on OW and ODSP. On October 1st, 2021, OCAP sent a letter to Fullerton’s office requesting a meeting and has not received a response to date.

Therefore, we have no option but to gather at the Ministry office to have our voices heard. Continue reading