VANCOUVER Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Saturday thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan for their governments’ actions to support vulnerable people, but reiterated his call for additional urgent supports in the Downtown Eastside to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
He noted: “Vancouver is unique in all of Canada with a high-risk and high-need population, most of whom call the densely-populated Downtown Eastside home. We cannot fail our most vulnerable neighbours. We must act now.”
Stewart applauded Ottawa’s expansion of its Reaching Home program to support the homeless and recent provincial measures to help address critical areas such as new spaces, supplies for self-isolation, enhanced cleaning protocols, and sustained funding and support for frontline workers.
“But we have more than 10,000 residents in and around the Downtown Eastside, many who have compromised immune systems. We need a suite of actions and resources from senior government to keep them safe,” said Stewart.
Stewart stressed he needs more help for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in eight key areas:
- Goods delivery
- Access to safe supply
- Support for overdose prevention sites
- Cleaning and community hygiene
- Building security
- Protection and testing for frontline workers
- Increased Income assistance
- Housing stock and protection for renters
Stewart will be calling on the Federal and Provincial governments to coordinate directly with the City of Vancouver on these.
Support 1: Goods Delivery
- Facilitating the delivery of necessary prescriptions, sanitary supplies, and food to people in self-isolation such that they are not compelled to leave isolation
- Increasing the capacity of, and protections for, outreach workers, service providers and peers to provide goods delivery
Support 2: Access to Safe Supply
- Expanding access to safe supply medications and rolling back prescribing restrictions for doctors and other qualified health professionals
Support 3: Overdose Prevention Sites
- Creating new guidelines and spaces for overdose prevention sites to allows their continued operation within the new self-isolating and social distancing measures
Support 4: Cleaning and Community Hygiene
- Implementing additional daily cleaning of all 126 private SROs and 40 non-market SROs
- Supplying cleaning kits for all 7,200 SRO tenants
- Providing additional resources for community hygiene facilities such as handwashing stations
Support 5: Building Security
- Increasing security at SRO buildings to restrict visitors, reduce crime and violence, and prevent disruptions to those self-isolating.
Support 6: Front-line Workers
- Supporting the not-for-profit sector to ensure their continued operation
- Ensuring rapid testing for essential service workers
- Providing training and protective equipment for essential service workers
Support 7: Income Assistance
- Providing tax-free, emergency funding to at least 11,000 vulnerable income-benefit program recipients in Vancouver
- Ensuring all income-assistance recipients receive payments without disruption with randomized, weekly-dispersed payment schedules to allow for physical distancing
- Providing crisis funding of $50 to $100 per day to compensate loss of average daily wage generation from survival economy
Support 8: Housing Stock and Renter Protection
- Temporarily banning all evictions
- Temporarily banning sale of SRO hotels
- Increasing province-wide rent support
- Increasing self-contained housing units for people who live in SROs and/or shelters to self-isolate
- Providing additional shelter capacity/temporary housing for up to 3,000 people currently unable to self-isolate