It’s getting cold in Toronto and there are unhoused people who are doing the best they can to cope with and survive in this weather. CUPE Ontario therefore strongly opposes the City of Toronto threatening to clear encampments.

The Mayor of Toronto must use his emergency powers to ban evictions and prevent any more people from becoming unhoused. The City of Toronto must make the conditions in the encampments as safe as possible, like providing access to water and basic sanitation. The City of Toronto must act immediately to build real affordable housing.But instead of supporting community members who have provided unhoused people with necessities and with foam domes to keep warm, the City has stood by. The City then used unfounded concerns about the very conditions they allowed to worsen to call the encampments unsafe, illegal, and therefore subject to potential clearings.

Clearing these encampments would disconnect people from their existing supports, provided by their community. It would leave them even more vulnerable than ever. It would leave them with nowhere to go.

Now’s not the time to make the lives of the over 1,000 and growing unhoused Torontonians any harder. We need real action and real supports for people. We need governments to provide housing as a basic right – and to ensure the best and safest possible conditions for those who are still unhoused. And we need robust investments, from all levels of government, in the chronically underfunded public services that our members deliver in support of the most vulnerable people.

It’s time to stop all threats to criminalize and clear the encampments. It’s time to demand that elected representatives do their job and act to support and protect people without homes.