A list of Toronto’s cultural who’s who wrote an open letter asking city council to take 5 urgent steps. Then council responded.

1:35 p.m., Jan. 31, 2018. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Feist comes to City Hall to support advocacy for more shelters.

Feb. 5, 2018

In a letter titled “Prominent Toronto Residents call for 1000 shelter beds in 2018,” 55 heavy-hitting Torontonians added their names to the call for action on shelters.

We’ve compared their asks with what council gave them. But first, the list:

Letter signatory

Jen Agg, Restaurateur/Writer
Margaret Atwood, Writer
Cameron Bailey
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
Kathleen Doukas, MD, CCFP
Atom Egoyan, Filmmaker
Leslie Feist, Musician
Samantha Green, Family Physician
Ken Greenberg, Author/Urban Designer
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
Sarah Polley, Filmmaker
Steve Pomedii, Family Physician
Dr. Mitesh Patel, Adolescent Outreach Psychiatrist, Chair of BOD, Inner City Health Associates, Forensic and Child Psychiatrist, CAMH Lecturer, UofT
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
Susan Woolhouse MD, Family Physician
Jesse Wente, Writer, Broadcaster
Mats Sundin
Curtis Joseph
John Mighton OC
Dr. Rikita Goel
Dr. Deborah Pink, Inner City Health Associates & Dept of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

What they asked for in the letter

What they got from City Council

1. Fund and open a minimum of 1,000 new shelter beds in 2018

“That City Council direct the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration to investigate the feasibility of expanding the respite centre at 705 Progress Avenue from 49 beds to 100 beds, including ensuring social service and mental health supports are available at the site.”

2. Keep the Moss Park Armoury open until the beds can be replaced with permanent shelter beds.

“City Council request the Federal Government to provide ongoing access and support in retaining operation of the Moss Park Armoury as a respite centre until April 15, 2018 at no cost to the City of Toronto.”

3. Honour the 90 percent occupancy cap on shelters.

“City Council reaffirm the 90 percent shelter occupancy cap in shelters across all sectors.”

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.

“City Council request the Federal Government to consider the uploading and/or sharing of costs, operations and management of housing and shelter-related services including hotel contracts, for specialized populations which the Government of Canada is currently responsible for such as for asylum seekers, refugees, veterans and Indigenous persons and to ensure that culturally and linguistically appropriate wrap-around community service supports are in place for such residents.”

5. Establish new standards and invest in improving overall drop-in and shelter conditions.

“City Council direct the Deputy City Manager, Cluster A, in consultation with the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration and the Acting Chief Financial Officer to: d) immediately develop service and maintenance standards for winter respite drop-ins, 24 hour drop-ins, warming centres and the Out of the Cold programs; and

City Council request the Deputy City Manager, Cluster A to implement a third party review of the staff complement at all levels of the Shelter Support and Housing Administration (including management, food staff, cleaners, client services, etc.) and community agencies and programs that provide 24 hour service, with a view to reporting on deficiencies and identifying finances required to resolve them.

City Council direct that the third party review, in Recommendation 6 above, also include an examination of training standards and any upgrades that may be required.”

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