On October 7, 2021, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council adopted a statement condemning encampment evictions and the ongoing crisis in affordable housing.
Over the fall and summer of 2021, the City of Toronto and the Toronto Police Services violently removed encampment residents from city park spaces. The result of those militarized evictions has left many of those encampment residents, and their supporters, jailed, injured, and traumatized – and has divided our city between those who applauded the evictions, and those who condemned them.
The City has spent almost $2 million on clearing three encampments. In spite of this, only 8% of encampment residents have made it into permanent housing since April 2020. A significant number return to live in encampments after entering shelters or shelter hotels.
While this Labour Council fights for the decent living and working conditions for all and extends our solidarity to unhoused people and encampment residents, encampment evictions are being cynically used to distract attention from the core issue. Violently evicting people from encampments doesn’t build supportive and affordable housing nor does it make shelters safer. The real issue is the crisis of affordable housing, which federal, provincial and municipal governments continue to ignore.
The solution is clear. We need to shift the balance from for-profit, market-based rental housing, and towards the provision of social housing through co-ops, government-owned public housing, and non-profit organizations. These types of housing do not need to continuously jack up rents in pursuit of profit. We need a return to the collective vision of the 1970s when both the federal and provincial governments supported an impressive building program of non-profits, co-ops and publicly owned housing that funded more than 600,000 good quality affordable homes across the country.
Labour Council resolves to:
- Reaffirms our commitment that housing is a fundamental human right, and demands that all levels of government immediately commit to a fully-funded national affordable housing program.
- Demand that municipal governments stop their violent evictions of encampment residents, and lobby their provincial and federal counterparts to implement a comprehensive plan to build permanent affordable housing.
- Demand that provincial and federal governments immediately develop a program to fund and build permanent, affordable social housing, including public housing, co-ops and other supportive and not-for-profit housing alternatives.
- Call on every affiliate to join our efforts in calling on governments to house everyone adequately. Homelessness is a violation of human rights.