Professor Joe Hermer on the impact of COVID-19 on the Homeless in Ontario

April 23, 2020 by Sherri Klassen

Professor Joe Hermer has recently co-authored an article in The Conversation discussing the need to protect the homeless during the pandemic. The article warns that police enforcing Ontario's Safe Streets Act that targets homeless people will put them in danger, not only with the law, but also risk spreading the pandemic. Professor Hermer is an Associate Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities at UT Scarborough. His research focuses on homelessness and policing.

We have posted an excerpt of the article. The full article is available on The Conversation.

Ontario’s Safe Streets Act will cost lives amid the coronavirus pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, officials in many Ontario cities have moved to protect the homeless population. At the same time, police are still enforcing the province’s punitive Safe Streets Act against people surviving on the street. This enforcement must stop if we are to avert a public health catastrophe.

Homeless people are at profound and immediate risk. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that when homeless people are infected with the virus, they are twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times as likely to die than the general population.

The report warns that it will take US$11.5 billion to manage the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population in the United States alone.

The spread of the virus to homeless communities in Ontario could be disastrous to the homeless and the housed alike, given the strain that medical facilities are under. Underfunded and overwhelmed, many of the emergency shelters opened across Canada still lack basic counter-measures such as social distancing, self-isolation and proper hygiene protocols....

Read the full article.