The Concerning Impact of Covid-19 on Toronto’s Unhoused Population

We all need somewhere to sleep, keep our belongings, and hide from extreme weather conditions. Shelter is a necessity, especially in a big city like Toronto. The majority of us, including everyone from the government to myself, have forgotten to acknowledge the toll that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. The pandemic has brought on a new set of issues to take into consideration, one of them being the increase of unhoused individuals. 

     Since the rates of homelessness in the city are so high, it is possible to find shelters, though they may not be incredibly accessible for everyone. It’s great to have places to offer support that is necessary for survival such as food and shelter, however, along with many other busy or crowded areas, these shelters have become hotspots for outbreaks of Covid-19. Due to this, many who cannot afford to live in the city have chosen to opt out of going to shelters and are instead setting up encampments. 

     This seems like a fair, rational decision that would help keep many people safe, but then why is it that the Toronto Police have cleared five of these encampments within the last couple of weeks? The current mayor of Toronto, John Tory, has publicly pointed out the dangers of people living in public parks, and the city council has stated that the encampments are being cleared in order to keep parks a safe place for everyone. But, forcing homeless people out without any other, safer options is just putting them in more danger. Perhaps it is a good idea to look at the issue of homelessness and poverty and try to figure out how to help people who are struggling if they are seen as such a burden to the government.

     What is meant by safe anyways? Is someone automatically a threat to others because they don’t have a home? Clearing these encampments is likely more dangerous and is definitely irresponsible since people will be forced to find somewhere else to go, deal with extreme heat on their own, or even go back to these shelters that are struggling enough as it is. 

     This leads you to wonder; is it actually the safety of the citizens of Toronto that is the main priority or is it the feelings of those who have the ability to pay bills and donate money to politicians during campaigns? 

     I encourage anyone reading this to think about what you can personally do to make a difference. This can include anything from educating yourself further on the topic, starting conversations with others, signing petitions, writing about your own opinions, or even protesting. 

     Kindness is contagious and has the power to make a difference. It’s important to understand that we are all the same on the inside. Made of flesh and blood and just trying to survive. In the end, we’re all in this together and should be supporting each other as much as possible. Next time you see an encampment or someone on the street, try to challenge yourself to change your mindset and see things from a different point of view.


Shelter outbreaks leave people experiencing homelessness even more vulnerable during COVID-19.

Tensions flare as fifth Toronto homeless encampment cleared in a week at Lamport Stadium.