[Hpn] Another death in Toronto
Fri, 05 Jul 2002 14:52:50 -0400
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Editorial comments: The conditions which likely precipitated this man's
death existed well before this city workers' strike commenced, or were
completely unrelated to it. This appears to be a heat fatality - humidex
levels were as high as forty-five degrees Celsius (113F) in Toronto on
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The drinking fountains in many public parks in downtown Toronto have
actually been disabled for a considerable period of time, presumably due to
pressure from more privileged residents who want to discourage homeless
people from congregating in municipal parks. The Red Cross and other
agencies have been distributing bottled water to homeless people this past
week but this is generally a case of too little, too late.
The city-run shelters remain open and functional (although, as always,
grossly overcrowded) despite the work stoppage. None of these facilities
have air conditioning and they generally require that residents vacate the
premises during the day in any event, so the strike likely wasn't a factor.
I also find it strange how the media or government only seem to care about
the welfare of homeless people - or prisoners, or psychiatric survivors -
when they can exploit the situation to their own advantage.
Friday, July 5, 2002
'First victim' of strike
Homeless man's death sign of hostel woes
By PHILIP LEE-SHANOK, TORONTO SUN
A man found dead in a downtown park on the day 500 shelter workers hit the
bricks may be the first fatality of Canada's largest municipal workers'
strike, homeless activists say.
Police found the man dead in Cawthra Square Park on Church St. around noon
yesterday and took the body to the coroner's building for an autopsy.
The man's name is being withheld until next of kin can be found.
Alison Kemper of the 519 Church St. community centre next to the park said
the man died of dehydration. "It's disturbing. It didn't have to happen,"
A fountain near where the man was found was not working due to the outside
workers' strike, she said.
"It's not a stretch to say the most endangered people are the first victims."
Kemper said the man was a regular at Seaton House, whose workers belong to
CUPE Local 79. which joined CUPE Local 416 on the picket lines.
Paddy Powers, 23, from St. John's, Nfld., has been at the shelter for 10
days. He says the heat inside the building sends many outside to the parks
to find relief.
"It's hard to sleep because of the heat, and the washrooms are getting
dirty," he said..
Hostel services director John Jagt says about 150 managers are left to do
the work of 520 inside workers in keeping open the five city-run shelters.
"We're focusing on safety and doing whatever's necessary to keep the places
running," he said. "It's a tall order, but we can't close. Those at risk
have nowhere else to go."
'DON'T HAVE OPTIONS'
Cathy Crowe of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee said the strike has
been a double whammy for the homeless.
"They don't have a lot of options. The shelters are understaffed and the
parks they sleep in are filling up with garbage," she said.