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The Toronto Civic Action Network (Toronto CAN) is calling on Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman to save shelter services for homeless people in the city.

Recent comments by Tory leadership candidate Jim Flaherty have given the Mayor a chance to restate his commitment to the homeless. Responding to Flaherty’s call to outlaw homeless people, the Mayor pointed out that such a punitive approach would drive many homeless people to hide and to many more deaths.

The Mayor’s words are welcome to those who are concerned about homelessness in Toronto, but they would be even more welcome if they were matched by action,” said Tanya Gulliver, a member of Toronto CAN. “The Mayor should immediately move to reverse proposed cuts to the city’s hostel services.”

The proposed budget, now under consideration by councillor’s, calls for a drastic $2.6 million cut to “non-bed” services for hostel users. This would eliminate 75% of support services now offered to homeless families and individuals – services that help them find permanent housing and maintain their health.

This would be a drastic cut to Hostel Services frontline staff providing support to the homeless. It would impair of the program’s ability to assist clients to become re-established in the community and make it difficult for the program to provide the community the required support and protection, said Guilliver.”

The services provided in the city’s hostels go far beyond offering homeless people a hot drink. Lifeline services like counselling, pre-natal support, childcare, and help finding permanent housing, provided by trained staff, are essential. We can’t let our hostels go back to being the kind of “warehouses” that we had in the past,” Gulliver added.

Toronto CAN is a community/labour coalition that has been endorsed by over forty organizations in Toronto. Its goal is to make Toronto a liveable city for all its people. The coalition is now involved in the city budget process, mobilizing participation in favour of a budget that serves the real needs of Torontonians.

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For further Information:
Tanya Gulliver 416 598 4521 x 225
Musonda Kidd 599 8372