Comments Off on Statement on Encampment Eviction
Adequate food and housing are both recognized as fundamental human rights, enshrined in the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Canada signed in 1976. The current rates of both food insecurity and housing precarity as well as the very existence of food banks, shelters and homeless encampments are all evidence that these fundamental human rights are not being realized for many of our community members.
In 2012, North York Harvest Food Bank formally adopted “long-term food solutions” as part of our mission, recognizing that emergency food assistance could not adequately address the root causes of food bank usage, including the shortage of truly affordable housing in Toronto.
The events at Lampton Stadium yesterday were disturbing to watch. While we acknowledge that housing is a complex issue requiring cooperation from various levels of government as well as the public and non-profit sectors, we believe that there must be a better way to address this complexity than by forcibly removing residents from the encampments or threatening residents with fines that only serve to exacerbate their poverty. Moreover, we know from our own work that the failure to address the actual root causes of poverty ultimately costs all of us in the form of increased expenses to our health care, education and justice systems. A 2019 study from Feed Ontario estimated that Ontario loses up to $33 billion each year in this way due to poverty. Our current strategies to improve this situation have proven to be woefully insufficient, inefficient and disrespectful to our most marginalized communities.
We encourage all involved to reflect on yesterday’s events and work in good faith towards more humane and effective solutions. North York Harvest is committed to learning from and working with the many frontline organizations that have been working tirelessly to support unhoused residents. We stand willing to provide any supports we can to displaced residents as well as to our partners in government and civil society in order to create truly long-term solutions to this crisis.