[Hpn] City of Toronto refuses to allow independent inspection of shelters

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Sat, 1 Feb 2003 09:59:31 -0800


Saturday, February 1, 2003
City nixes survey of shelters


 The city refuses to let a group of volunteers tour homeless shelters to see
whether they meet United Nations refugee camp standards, The Toronto Sun has
been told.

"We're not going to submit ourselves to their whims or their political
agenda," said John Jagt, the city's director of hostel services. "We do our
own facilities review."

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee had asked to send an inspection team
of volunteer doctors, nurses and mental health care workers into city
shelters to see whether they meet UN space and sanitation requirements.

"People are living literally inches away from each other on mats," said the
committee's Beric German. "The crowding can worsen mental illness and lead
to the spread of airborne disease."

The UN requires 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 square metres of floor space per person,
German said.

The committee also wants the city to add extra beds to a vacant floor
beneath its 60 Richmond St. shelter. But Jagt said the space is not fit to
use as a shelter now.

"There's one toilet for that floor, not a washroom, a toilet. You can't put
people in an area with no washroom," Jagt said.

Jagt wants funding to develop the floor and provide counselling services
that would help clients overcome homelessness.

"Just to put more dorm-style beds in that space is a regressive step," he
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