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Our Relations to Emergencies

When are we the emergency and when do we get to ask for emergency help?

Wouldn’t it be nice to get emergency therapy yesterday rather than a needle in ER or housing yesterday rather than running around from shelter to warming centre today…

What Homeless Emergency: This has been coming for a long time. Many people have seen rocketing rents, shortages of supportive and affordable housing, and increasing numbers of homeless people last winter and the continuing shortage of shelter space. This has been a slow and building crisis.   Tent city under the Gardiner expressway.

Why Emergency: Emergency declaration would allow the city to access provincial and federal government money and resources. And to make decisions about spending money without some approval processes.

Why Not Emergency: In a statement, a spokesperson for John Tory said the mayor won’t declare a state of emergency because it’s not the best response to long-term systemic and economic problems. Mr. Tory said he has been lobbying federal and provincial governments to help address the homelessness crisis and that they are taking a number of actions to address the issue.

And in the words of the City Solicitor (the lawyer): ‘…the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (the “Act”) and the City’s Emergency Management Plan (the “Plan”) are not designed to address social and economic problems of an ongoing systemic nature that cannot be resolved in days, weeks or months.’

How to push for emergency: If you want to help the call for emergency declaration, you could visit // .

Maybe the slow moving disaster can be used to shock the neighbours.

Canadian artists, academics, business people have called on Toronto to declare state of emergency over homelessness //

Hot off the Presses: Council Votes NO to Emergency Motion, instead calls for “urgent” meeting and calls for cooperation with other levels of government. No new money.  // If you really want to experience the debate: //




Affordable housing is about more than rent cost. It needs to be accessible to folks who are “hard to house”. Most of us have limits to what we could tolerate in housing (pool, roof, noise) and things we need (quiet safe free warm). Accessibility would require accommodation of these needs.

Accessibility and appropriate housing doesn’t mean putting all of the folks living with poverty, mental health and substance use challenges together. Our mental differences from the “normals” don’t mean that we all get along. Accessible housing means that we can find comfortable housing and then if it doesn’t work we can try again. It may also mean living outside the formal housing system until we choose to live there.


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