Elementary School Teacher in Toronto Stands up to City, Saves Homeless Encampment.
By Micah Dewey
May 16, 2020
Over the last several days, Toronto’s city officials have been clearing out homeless encampments and moving those living there to shelters and temporary housing. By itself, helping the homeless into shelters and other housing should be applauded until one looks at the rate of COVID-19 in these shelters and temporary housing complexes.
Jason Phillips, a man who lives in his tent under the Gardiner Expressway was handed an eviction notice with an offer of shelter housing. Phillips said he preferred to live outside due to worries of contracting the coronavirus.
Anna Jessup, an elementary school teacher was involved in the protest to allow those living at the camps to stay where they are. She was pictured here standing in front of Phillips’ tent stopping a city backhoe from demolishing his residence
According to the Canadian Press, several dozen people have said that they prefer to live outside during the pandemic. Their fears might have some merit as well, 341 people have tested positive in Toronto’s shelter system, with two deaths across nine shelters.
The City of Toronto insists that they are not removing people without offering them shelter first, however, many activists have made the point that the people are safer in these camps than in the city’s care.
Toronto City Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said that protesters are doing little but placing lives at risk.
Pegg claims that the amount of fires has been a cause for concern especially over the last two weeks with over 15 fires having been reported.
Chief Pegg then later went on to say, “In collaboration with our enforcement partners, we will be addressing these concerns directly and formally with those responsible. We are working hard to remove the risks and dangers that encampments pose.”
The City of Toronto and their over rambunctious Fire Chief are going to get more people sick, and by forcibly moving them could cause even more chaos to ensue. Today we just have to thank those who are standing up for the rights of the most vulnerable, including the Shelter and Housing Justice Network and those who were there on the ground that day.