RNAO has been particularly active in recent months addressing structural inequities that led to vulnerable populations suffering the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. RNAO is adding its voice to a campaign launched in June supported by hundreds of progressive organizations in Canada calling for a just and sustainable recovery from COVID-19.
In a 27 August letter to the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and federal party leaders, RNAO calls for action to address some of the profound inequities laid bare by COVID-19, which has exposed our collective failure to build a country that provides health, safety and security for all.
Today I am appreciative to Tim Richter, President & CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, for engaging us all in what promises to be a very effective campaign to end homelessness, once and for all. Tim’s message is so simple and so powerful: Yes, we want to go back to normal, but not a normal where more than a quarter of a million Canadians are homeless. Not a normal where we look the other way as vulnerable people suffer injustice and discrimination. Not a normal where so many people do not have shelter and basic needs.
Public health officials – both provincial and City of Toronto – distinguished between two different COVID-19 disease processes, during their second modeling press conference on April 20th – the spread through community and the spread of the virus through congregate settings. They claimed, cautiously, that COVID-19 spread in the community has peaked but that spread is growing in congregate settings. The evidence of the virus’ devastating effect on long-term care and retirement homes has been laid out in these reports.
Thanks to Matt Kellway, RNAO Director of Policy, currently seconded to Inner City Health Associates (ICHA) to assist with protecting Toronto homeless persons from COVID-19, for writing this report.
In our collective response to this pandemic, it is the vulnerable that need to go to the top of our list for care and safe keeping. And, in that, we are failing the homeless because they have been relegated to the bottom.
The deepening crisis amongst persons experiencing homelessness is a major concern for RNAO and one we are actively urging all levels of government to immediately address.
We asked Dr. Aaron Orkin, Population Medicine Lead with Inner City Health Associates (ICHA), to share with RNAO his expert advice about sentinel surveillance and on-site testing for persons experiencing homelessness in Toronto, which of course is applicable to any other city and jurisdiction.
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