Letter of Complaint Regarding City of Ottawa Determinations
On November 28th, 2018, I had complained to the city of Ottawa that the Salvation Army’s failure to act in compliance with a number of the Emergency Shelter Standards had caused injury by the loss of My rights, and by subjecting Me to deplorable living conditions not worthy of human dignity.
I complained that I had advocated to protect My rights and improve the conditions of the shelter by Writing Letters to the Salvation Army’s manager, Jason Prevost, and that My requests and complaints were repeatedly ignored.
On October 20, 2018, I was asked to participate in an online [YouTube] interview to create awareness of the homelessness crisis in Ottawa, and the reality of shelter life. Eleven days after the interview, November 1st, 2018, Jason Prevost barred Me from the facility without cause. I was told I was barred ‘for Life’. I complained this was an Act of discrimination in retaliation to My participation in the online interview and/or for My determination to advocate and protect My own rights, and/or My determination to improve the overall condition of the shelter for My Self and other clients.
The city of Ottawa failed to investigate My complaint and suggested I go to another shelter, rather than ensure Jason’s decision was in compliance with the Emergency Shelter Standards. I felt this was both an unreasonable and incorrect resolution to My complaint, and filed an application to the Divisional Court for Judicial review.
Genevieve Langlais, associate legal counsel for the City of Ottawa, agreed to meet with Me on March 5th, 2019, and assured Me that a proper investigation of My complaint would be conducted by Housing Services, and a determination of the investigation would be provided for Me on or before April 1st.
My forthcoming comments and opinions with respect to the city’s determinations not withstanding, I am very Grateful to Genevieve for her attention in regard to this Matter, for ensuring the investigation was concluded in a timely manner, and for expediting the acquisition of a housing subsidy which I believe to be integral to My overall health and well being.
In regard to the city determinations, I Will address each in turn for ease of reference.
“The services delivered are pursuant to an agreement between the City and the Salvation Army and must comply with the City of Ottawa Emergency Shelter Standards.”
This quote was taken from paragraph 2, line 2 of the city determinations. It does not say the Salvation Army ‘may’ comply, or ‘should’ comply with the City of Ottawa Emergency Shelter Standards, it states the Salvation Army must comply with the Emergency Shelter Standards. Furthermore, it does not state that the Salvation Army must comply with some Standards, or that the Standards are discretional and/or open to interpretation by the investigative branch (Housing Services). Therefor, failure to comply with even one of the Emergency Shelter Standards is a direct violation of the Salvation Army’s service agreement with the City of Ottawa.
1. Participation in Religious Activities
I am pleased to hear Shelley VanBuskirk is making Good on her Word now. As stated in My complaint, I was required to participate in religious services and was told I would be expelled from the Life Skills program and potentially the shelter if I failed to attend Chapel service.
My opinion, is that if Housing Services were genuinely interested in properly investigating My complaint, they would have asked the Salvation Army to produce a copy of the application form I had filled out to participate in the Life Skills program to ensure participation in religious activities are not listed on the application, and to have them removed if they do; the same should be done for all other programs offered by the Salvation Army.
However, I am confident that these conditions are now being met, as I have Friends who have expressed their gratitude, believing the change to be a result of this complaint. I am also friends with Captain Thomas Yoo, Chaplain of the Spiritual Services department who told Me the Chapel has now been closed.
One of the reasons I mentioned the memo in the complaint, was to demonstrate that Shelley VanBuskirk Willfully lied to Chair Deans and Members of Council in her memo, and doesn’t appear to be reviewing the shelter at all, but rather telling Chair Deans and members of council what they want to hear to keep the shelter operational. Shelley stated there were several policies and procedures in place that were absolutely not in place at the time of the memo. The Idea was to demonstrate that Shelley’s Word can’t really be trusted. For example, let’s take a look at 2(d).
2. Information Regarding Available Services
I’m going to quote directly from Shelley VanBuskirk’s memo to Chair Deans and members of Council on April 25th, 2018:
The shelter operators currently convey their accessible and open service delivery offerings through various mechanisms including:
- Material in orientation/intake packages
- Posted Resident Bill of Rights
- Resident/staff meetings
- Established and visible issue/complaint resolution processes
- Mission and value statements on public facing websites
The above measures, coupled with provincial legislation, ensure people experiencing homelessness and seeking housing supports have equal access to services and opportunities to provide feedback on the services they receive.
I’ll Give Shelley the first one. With respect to the ‘Resident Bill of Rights’, I advised in My complaint that The Salvation Army is not at liberty to determine the ‘Rights’ of clients. Rights are inherent, Given by God and protected by Law. In the province of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Code is the law designed to protect the ‘Rights’ of clients. I am sensitive to the fact that these subtle nuances in Language may seem insignificant to the director of Housing Services, but they have a profound psychological impact on those dealing with the trauma of homelessness. To a Man walking into a shelter for the first time after losing their home, it appears as though the Man has lost all but the five remaining rights he sees posted as the Salvation Army’s ‘Bill of Rights’. The Salvation Army has absolutely no authority to determine the rights of clients, period. Perhaps ‘Resident Duties and Responsibilities’, or ‘Client Rules’ would be more appropriate. The Words ‘Resident Bill of Rights’ fundamentally suggests the rights of clients are determined by the facility, and this is unacceptable. It is both incorrect and unreasonable. My suggestion would simply be to remove the ‘Resident Bill of Rights’ and replace them with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
I’ll also Give Shelley a pass on the resident/staff meetings.
As for the “Established and visible Complaint/Resolution Process”, I stated in My complaint that there is none, while Shelley VanBuskirk claimed it was ‘established and visible’.
Shelly claims there is a process called “Complaints management – Clients and Resident policy and procedures” that is ‘in place’, and has requested an ‘outline’ of the process be posted, and copies of the procedure be made available on request. Shelley Will follow up on the 15th of April to confirm this has been done, something she had clearly told Chair Deans and members of Council was already in place on April 25th of 2018. So We know for a fact that Shelley VanBuskirk falsified information in her memo to appear as though critical client services were being offered that were in fact never in place. Only as a result of this complaint, has this finally been done. Frankly, lying in memo’s to Chair Deans and member of council, ‘boasting’ about services in place that have in fact never been in place, evidences serious fraud, as she is influencing Chair Deans and city Council who make decisions on how taxpayer dollars are spent. I believe the correct and reasonable thing to do here, would be to have Shelley VanBuskirk replaced.
This clearly illustrates there was no complaint/resolution process in place while I was a resident of the shelter, and this complaint, combined with Jason’s refusal to respond to any of My Letters of Complaint and/or advise Me of any ‘resolution process’ the Salvation Army may have had in place at the time, further confirms and demonstrates that if there was any complaint/resolution processes in place during My stay at the shelter, it was not being implemented. One would think that if such a procedure were in place, common sense would suggest that Jason Prevost would have pointed My complaints in that direction. (Unless of course the policy is to ignore client complaints altogether).
This may seem like another small detail to the Director of Housing Services, but to be subject to a shelter and have no Voice to even complain of the conditions One is subject to, or to defend One’s Self when treated unfairly, compounds mental health issues and the feeling of hopelessness.
Generally, when clients complain they have been treated unfairly, the ‘resolution’ is to send them to another shelter. I believe Housing Services refers to this practice as a ‘warm transfer’. Though the practice is endorsed by ‘the City’, it is not supported anywhere in the Emergency Shelter Standards.
“Mission and Value Statements on public facing websites”
I have a BIG problem with this One, though I think it provides an excellent example of one of the fundamental reasons the conditions of the shelter are so deplorable. There are Shelter Standards, but it seems there is no consequence for failing to comply with them. There is a Mission Statement on a public facing website, though the Salvation Army does nothing whatsoever to meet that mission statement. It’s just propaganda and false advertising. I was literally appealing to the Salvation Army management to appreciate and respect My belief in Spiritual Practice, Worship and observance, believing We had a Common Goal to end homelessness. Instead, I was treated like an adversary and met with conflict in every assertion of My Spiritual beliefs.
I am officially as King of the Salvation Army for a copy of My Life Skills application to evidence that at the time of My complaint, participation in religious services was absolutely mandatory, despite protesting the condition in defence of My own Spiritual beliefs and practice. (And contrary to their Mission Statement on public facing websites).
3. Visible Signage Regarding the Human Rights Code
I am glad to hear this Will finally be done and affirm that the ‘Client Rights’ should also be removed or renamed, as the Salvation Army is in no position to determine client ‘rights’ in accordance with the Law. The use of the Word ‘Rights’ is fundamentally incorrect and unreasonable.
4. Safe and Secure Environment
While I appreciate that the city conducted a ‘full site inspection’ on May 31st and reported all conditions were found to be ‘satisfactory’, We also know that Shelley VanBuskirk has made false reports to Chair Deans and Members of Council previously, and I am concerned that ‘satisfactory’ has a different meaning for those conducting inspections than it Will have for clients subject to the conditions being inspected.
I think the Word ‘satisfactory’ is rather ambiguous and ‘incorrect’. Could a Common Man leave his home and spend a week at the facility without being emotionally or mentally traumatized and damaged by the experience? I don’t think so, and to suggest that the conditions People in shelters are subject to is ‘satisfactory’ is insulting, degrading, demoralizing and frankly, shameful if the Life I experienced at the shelter is any indication of ‘satisfactory’. At best, it is a ‘hostile’, unpredictable, and unsanitary environment. Not one morning did I walk through the bathroom without having to step over at least one [used] syringe and/or broken glass from a crack/meth pipe (with the exception of My time in the Life Skills program). Clients learn not to place towels on the counter while shaving or washing their face so they don’t end up drying their face with a cockroach.
The only defence against the continuous bedbugs, were clean sheets everyday, to go to bed as tired as possible, and hope to fall asleep before they start biting – but of course, One still wakes up to blood stains all over their sheets from killing bedbugs while they sleep. The moment One gets bit, he’s not sleeping for the rest of the night, he Will believe every hair on his body that moves might be a bedbug. Just try and Imagine how traumatizing that is. And the city wonders why so many People in shelters struggle with mental health issues? These ‘satisfactory’ conditions cause, and seriously compound mental health issues of those experiencing homelessness. It is not satisfactory, it is absolutely unacceptable, and needs to stop. These ‘satisfactory’ conditions are causing continuous mental and physical harm to all clients subject to the Salvation Army.
Needless to say, subjecting clients to continuous harm and injury and presuming these conditions are ‘satifactory’ is both incorrect and unreasonable. The bed bug and cockroach epidemic must be completely exterminated before the shelter should even be considered a viable option in the provision of emergency shelter services.
Further to this argument:
Ottawa Property Standards (By-law No.2013 – 416)
“Vermin” means a mammal, bird or insect injurious to humans, game or crops including but not limited to foxes, rats, mice, moles, owls, weasels, ants, cockroaches, silverfish, fleas, bedbugs or lice;
Section 13 – Vermin prevention
- A dwelling shall be kept free of vermin at all times, and methods used for extermination shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Pesticides Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chap. P. 11, as amended, and all regulations enacted pursuant thereto.
“At all times.” Nowhere does the Act state that ‘some’ bedbugs and/or cockroaches is ‘satisfactory’.
5. Personal Support and Case Management
I’m going to have a little ‘Fun’ with this one.
“The Salvation Army confirms that they worked with the Client but that he refused to submit a Birth Certificate to complete his housing subsidy and that he would not allow home visits by a housing-based case manager under the Housing First program if housed. They also indicated that he refused to work with a caseworker who offered to assist him in searching for housing he could afford with his basic needs and housing allowance from Ontario works.”
The ‘tone’ of the quote speaks volumes. Notice how I am made out to sound ‘uncooperative’ (refused) for defending My rights? This is a typical strategy used by the Salvation Army and it appears to be consistent with the attitude of Housing Services. Perhaps if the application process did not include so many trespasses on fundamental rights, I would not have had to ‘refuse’ to Sign the documents. The real solution, is that clients are not asked to waive fundamental rights to the enjoyment of their property in order to ‘qualify’ for a subsidy. It is threatening harm (loss of rights) in exchange for support, and if One complains about the loss of that right or advocates that it is an unreasonable and incorrect request, the individual is treated as ‘uncooperative’, ‘refusing’ to accept supports.
The Housing Services application for Housing First subsidy need to be re-Writ so they do not require the client to waive rights to the enjoyment of the property they Will be receiving subsidy to acquire. ‘Requiring’ a man to Give up a right to receive a benefit is not ‘equal access to social services’, and is patently an incorrect and unreasonable practice.
Furthermore, suggesting a Man should use his basic income and housing allowance as combined income to secure housing is setting One up for failure. How is the Man to eat and continually make rent payments? It is unrealistic, and to know that this kind of advice is being Given is alarming. It promotes criminal activity, or at the very least ‘creative’ means of earning extra money to survive. A food bank is not a solution for basic needs, and Case management workers should know better, and be Giving helpful advice that Will provide long term solutions, not a temporary fix that Will inevitably result in the individual returning to the/a shelter. I didn’t take Caroline’s suggestion because it is insane (incorrect) and unreasonable. This shows the lack of experience and knowledge of the Salvation Army’s ‘case workers’.
“The city is satisfied that the Salvation Army provided case management services to the best of its ability recognizing it must follow program guidelines and requirements when offering supports and services.”
Really? Interesting. It seems to Me that a case management worker should be Acting in the best interest of clients and ensuring the protection of their fundamental rights and freedoms under the O.H.R.C., not compelling them to Give them up in order to receive a housing subsidy and suggesting they Will receive no support if they are not Willing to waive their rights. Again, completely unreasonable and incorrect.
Social service workers of the Salvation Army require ‘sensitivity training’ (and perhaps Housing Services, too). They should be informed that no contracts a client signs in the application of support services has the force of law to trespass on a right protected under the O.H.R.C.. If case workers knew and understood their duties and responsibilities to protect their rights and the rights of fellow Canadians, perhaps We would not be in this situation right now.
It also seems to Me that Housing Services should be ensuring the applications they Create for Housing subsidy aim to protect the rights of clients, not strip them away. I was told that if I did not agree to these terms, I could not even apply for a housing subsidy. I did what I could to educate People like Caroline and others offering these services, informing them that they constitute violations of fundamental human rights protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code. This reflects both a lack of knowledge and respect for the observance of fundamental human rights, especially considering that waiving fundamental rights is mandatory in the application for housing subsidy.
6. Client Access to Shelter
“The Salvation Army indicated it was the overall actions/behaviours of the client that prompted a referral (“warm transfer”) to another shelter of his choice and that this is in keeping with the policies and proceedures.”
Once again, this is both incorrect and unreasonable.
Pursuant to shelter standards (Section 1.1.2.), no one is denied access solely because of:
- Substance abuse or mental health issues
- A disability, providing the facility is accessible
- Sexual orientation and/or
- Self identified gender
But, rather, on the overall behaviour/actions of the client that may place that client, other clients, and/or staff at risk .
At no time did any of My actions place either My Self, other clients, and/or staff at risk. Again, this is not open to interpretation, the Shelter Standards are very clear on this. Although there is a ‘warm transfer’ process with other shelters, no where does it indicate that it is acceptable to arbitrarily ask a client to leave unless the overall actions/behaviours place My Self, other clients and/or staff at risk. The city Will have to prove that My overall actions/behaviour were a risk to My Self, other clients and/or staff. I have never Acted aggressively toward any staff or client of the Salvation Army and was actually well liked by most front line workers as I had a reputation for treating People with dignity and respect.
There is no justifiable reason to have Me expelled from the facility arbitrarily provided in the Emergency Shelter Standards. The ‘Warm Transfer’ option is only to be used when the overall behaviour of the client is a risk to the safety of others, and this is clearly defined.
This determination is both incorrect and unreasonable.
7. Clients Informed of Services Available and How to Access the Services
8. Replacement of Linens
The assessment is reasonable – if that’s actually how things are done. It’s true, clients can bring their sheets down to replace them daily, problem is there are rarely new sheets available. Almost daily, new clients checking in would have to wait for sheets and sometimes went without.
Unfortunately, I can’t ‘prove’ My claim in this regard, so I Will simply ask to be Mindful that Housing Services has a clear motive to ‘appear’ pristine as they are responsible for ensuring these standards are met. I stand by My testimony in the original complaint, which indicates blankets come back from laundry often damp and full of tiny bedbugs not even visible, or barely visible to the naked eye. I also stand by My testimony that many nights I witnesses several clients sleeping without any linens at all, though it may also be due to the blankets being full of bedbugs and not Wishing to use them, I’m not really sure.
9. Access to Laundry
Again, I Will Give a pass here, mostly because I don’t have the energy to dispute something so frivolous. A Greater issue for Me, however, is mentioned in this determination:
“The city Will be amending the term in the next version of Shelter Standards.”
So, the same organization responsible for creating the Shelter Standards, is also responsible for ensuring the Standards are met. Basically, I’m guessing “Housing Services” is responsible for Writing the Emergency Shelter Standards? That seems like a perverse incentive. The Standard is actually going to be changed so that the statement I made can be considered ‘correct’. This is one example of the city claiming to adhere to strict Shelter Standards, yet override or interpret the standards differently when it serves them.
I believe an independent tribunal should be involved in the Creation of a Shelter Standards that actually Honours the integrity and dignity of clients subject to homelessness, rather than leave it in the hands of an organization that Will lie to city Council in their reports, and change Standards to meet their needs when a client complains the Standard is not being met.
This is One example of just how ‘partisan’ this investigation really is. Housing Services is more interested in protecting their reputation than the rights and dignity of clients – perverse incentive, both incorrect and unreasonable.
“I can see why the client would think that, as it is Written and included with other free supports in the Shelter Standards” – yeah, anybody would interpret it that way, meaning that the Standard is not/was not being met. So Housing Services Will just ‘use their discretion’ with respect to that Standard, and change it in the next revision, rather than admit that the Standard was not being met. Marvelous. Bravo, Housing Services.
10. Receipt of Hygiene Products as Necessary
11. Access to Common Areas During the Day
Unreasonable and incorrect.
The common room can accommodate up to 50 people, and Housing Services considers this ‘meets all the requirements of the shelter standards’.
This is unreasonable because the shelter has 145 beds, meaning that only one third of clients can enjoy a common room during the day, the rest Will have to wander the streets until 1:00 in the afternoon, and often later as the dormitories are often closed longer without notice for ‘extra cleaning’ (though nothing ever seems any ‘cleaner’).
Furthermore, the Shelter Standards requires that the facility have at least one toilet and one sink for every fifteen clients. That means that the ‘common area’ is lacking at least two washroom facilities, as there is only one toilet and one sink for at least 50 clients and potentially as many as 100 (roughly 45 beds are on floors where clients can access their room and respective facilities all day) during the day.
This is clearly not in accordance with the Emergency Shelter Standards.
12. Case Management
The determination claims that I presented a ‘plan’ to Caroline and that the plan was ‘unworkable’. Once again, this is not in keeping with the Emergency Shelter Standards where it claims it Will address individual and personal needs and provide the necessary supports. This proves that client services are extremely limited in their capacity to provide the necessary supports and assistance necessary for clients.
The next part, I find particularly insulting. The determination claims that Jason Prevost did contact the lady from the ByWard market but ‘did not have permission’ to share her contact information with the client. The lady had directly asked Me to contact her as soon as possible and said she would leave her contact information with a manager to make sure I received it. She did not say she would ask management to contact her, nor would she have any need or reason for My contact information as she knew I was a client of the shelter.
I believe this was Willful determination on the part of Jason Prevost to deliberately sabotage My entrepreneurial efforts. Both Caroline and Jason told Me that My efforts were a waste of time. A lady stopping by to offer a $4000 grant would have proved them both wrong, and I believe this was the motive Jason had for sabotaging My efforts. This goes hand in hand with ‘the Plan’ I presented to Caroline mentioned previously.
I am perfectly okay with Standing corrected on this matter, but I insist on a copy of the email to the lady from the ByWard market be produced as evidence that Jason did, in fact, follow up and was not ‘permitted’ to share the contact information.
Right now, I believe this is a fraudulent claim and that Jason never messaged anyone and threw the lady’s contact information away to sabotage My opportunity. I should have just taken the card My Self – it was offered to Me, but one hand was covered in paint and My other hand was busy with a brush. It was then that the lady asked if it would be safe to leave it with management, and if they would know who I am. I assured her they would.
If Jason had not been at liberty to share the contact information with Me, he would have said that to Me the first time I asked him for it to put the matter to rest. I likely would not have believed him, but I would have been prepared for this ‘excuse’. Jason knows he sabotaged an opportunity for Me, has been caught and is now trying to cover his tracks. Unless he produces an email to the contrary, I Will Stand on this Claim.
Incorrect and unreasonable.
13. Reserving Beds
14. Time Out Arrangements
This goes hand in hand with the incorrect and unreasonable determination to have Me arbitrarily barred for life.
“The Salvation Army confirms it assesses each case individually based on behaviours and is progressive, depending on the situation.”
Generally, progressive means that time outs are… well, ‘progressive’. A ‘Time out’ to another shelter is sometimes a day, or maybe even a few hours the first time. It goes up from there, maybe to three days or a week, then to perhaps as long as a month, or perhaps in some cases as long as three months. I am the only client to have ever been barred for life without incident. Explain to Me how this is in Keeping with the Standards and not an act of Willful discrimination.
This further demonstrates how unfairly I was treated in comparison to other clients, and is clearly contrary to the Shelter Standards.
Incorrect and unreasonable.
15. Client Rights and Responsibilities
For reasons stated previously, this is patently unreasonable and incorrect. Change the title to ‘Duties and responsibilities’, ‘Rules and Responsibilities’, or something similar, but remove the Word “Rights”, as the Salvation Army is in no position to determine a Man’s ‘rights’ – period! There is no debate to be had on this Issue.
16. Wait Time for Medication
I’m Giving a pass on this one, too, though only because I was never subject to waiting, I simply observed many clients waiting far too long to receive medication they desperately need at specific times, many of them for behavioural/mental issues like anxiety, etc., compounding the Issue. I stand on My comments in the original complaint, but am not interested in challenging this determination.
17. Smoking Area
Again, patently unreasonable. It is true that clients are not ‘compelled’ to smoke in the smoking area, and I understand and am sympathetic that there is no alternative location, but to direct clients to an area that is a falling ice and snow hazard and a danger to their safety is patently unreasonable, regardless what the determination might be.
With respect to police not harassing clients, I acted as defence council for two individuals who were harassed in the smoking area specifically, and unlawfully searched. Constable Christopher Jenkyn of the Ottawa Police service provided in his information that the city of Ottawa has a private contract with the Salvation Army to routinely inspect the smoking area out front of the Salvation Army for ‘suspicious behaviour’ specifically, as it is ‘well known for criminal activity’. Here is the direct quote from Constable Jenkyn:
“This area is well known to members of the Ottawa Police Service for persons loitering, consuming illicit drugs and or alcohol. Additional “No Loitering” signs have been put in place in hopes of curbing this behaviour. Agent status has also been granted to the Ottawa Police Service to help enforce these issues.” – Constable Christopher Jenkyn, Ottawa Police Services
Once again, this is incorrect, unreasonable and may even be considered entrapment – but I’ll leave that for defence council of harassed clients to determine.
As a solution, I am suggesting that the Salvation Army stop directing clients to smoke in a dangerous area (in the winter) and encourage them to leave the property to smoke.
I also suggest the private contract with the Ottawa Police service is an unnecessary expense and should be terminated, as the Salvation Army is supposed to be a place of ‘Salvation’ from unwarranted attacks and investigation.
Private contracts with municipal police is unreasonable and incorrect, especially considering the Salvation Army has it’s own security contract to dispel or diffuse minor incidents.
18. Clean and Sanitary Conditions
Unreasonable and incorrect.
I understand every comment made in the city’s determinations, that doesn’t mean that the conditions are ‘acceptable’. I cut My foot on glass from a broken crack pipe stepping into a shower and I am exceedingly cautious – it was invisible because it was partially submerged in water. These hazards are continuous.
Secondly, parasites (bedbugs) and cockroaches are vermin. Vermin do not exist in ‘clean and sanitary conditions’. Once again, please refer to Property Standards by-law sited previously, which states that for a dwelling to be considered ‘livable’, it must be free of vermin AT ALL TIMES.
It is important for Housing Services to understand that policies and procedures don’t always have the desired outcome. Although all the ‘Standards’ are being maintained, they are not adequate to make for a clean and sanitary environment, which is unreasonable. Going through the motions doesn’t always produce offspring. Just because policies and procedures are in place, does not mean they are having the desired result.
Policies and procedures need to be seriously reviewed to eliminate the bedbug and cockroach epidemic specifically, the same goes for providing more staff or whatever else may be required to ensure clients are not subject to an environment littered with dangerous drug paraphernalia that could cause irreversible damage to their clients. Only One client has to step on a used syringe for his entire life to be ruined. Subjecting anyone to such serious hazards routinely is unreasonable and incorrect.
19. Pest Control
Again, according to Property Standards, a dwelling must be free from ‘vermin’ at all times. Neither the Salvation Army or Housing Services deny the bedbug epidemic, or that the facility is infested with vermin, they just believe it’s ‘acceptable’ because they have a policy in place. A policy doesn’t magically improve a condition! It is all too easy to say policies and procedures are in place, let’s call it a day. These are PEOPLE!!! People subject to sleeping in a bed where they Will be eaten alive by bedbugs. I cannot emphasize how traumatizing a situation this is. Of all things I was subject to at the Salvation Army, this was the most intolerable condition and has left Me permanently scarred. It was almost two months before I had a ‘real’ night’s sleep because the psychological effect was that powerful – even after I was sleeping in a clean bed free from vermin, One consistently ‘believes’ there are still bedbugs. Imagine how much worse this is for People dealing with mental health and addiction issues. Rest is something People desperately need and clients would fear going to bed. Please, just think about that.
No One who has ever experience bedbugs would ever presume that a location infested with them is an appropriate provider of emergency services. Until the Salvation Army is vermin free, it is not a clean and sanitary environment, period.
20. Privacy of Clients
I claimed that clients do not have access to privacy, and that access to privacy is essential to mental health and well being. The determination indicates that there are no provisions for privacy included in the Shelter Standards.
Incorrect and unreasonable.
Privacy is essential to the mental and emotional well being of clients, and therefor should be part of the Emergency Shelter Standards. This is why I feel it is something of a conflict of interest for those who have never experienced homelessness or life in a shelter to be determining what kind of conditions are ‘acceptable’ and determining what ‘Standards’ are acceptable.
I would like to ask Shelley VanBuskirk what the Shelter Standars would look like if her Self and each member sitting on city Council were required to ‘test’ their own Standards by spending a week in the facility. How many changes would need to be made to the Shelter Standards before Shelley VanBuskirk would consider the living environment ‘satisfactory’ for a one week stay? Now consider spending sixteen months under Shelley’s currently ‘acceptable’ standards.
If these Standards are not acceptable living conditions for city Council members, they are not acceptable for anyone. Consider what kind of Standards would need to be in place before the individual Writing the Standards would be Willing to spend a night at the Salvation Army. And it might also be worth considering how much more vigilante Housing Services would be in ensuring those Standards are met if they themselves were subject to living there.
21. Locking Doors to bathrooms, toilets and shower rooms.
Again, I Will acknowledge that the determination is that the Shelter Standards were not violated in this regard, however I do not feel that makes the situation ‘acceptable’. Female staff routinely check washrooms and the main shower in particular consistently exposes the individual (unless they find their own creative ways to keep the curtain closed). Small indignities, like not being able to control water temperature, and being exposed to a room full of strangers while showering chip away at a Man’s self esteem. These ‘Standards’ are unacceptable.
It seems as though Housing Services feels that those subject to poverty and homelessness are entitled to considerably less dignity and rights than other Canadian People. If any of the Standards would not be considered acceptable in any other scenario, then why are they acceptable for People subject to poverty? There is no reason why emergency shelters can’t be designed to provide some dignity to clients if their intention is truly to help and rehabilitate. The current conditions cause harm and injury to clients, particularly emotionally and psychologically. I believe the shelters are responsible for a large portion of the mental health issues that are prevalent among the clients who stay there. I am not sure if People end up homeless because of mental health issues, or if life in shelters subject to these deplorable conditions are in fact responsible for Ottawa’s mental health epidemic. Spend a few months there, then tell Me these conditions are not causing injury to every client that enters their sphere of influence.
22. Weapons and Illegal substances
It is wonderful to hear that the Salvation Army has a comprehensive list of items determined to be ‘weapons’ on the intake form and that nail clippers and pencil crayons are not on that form. Truly wonderful news. However, it also evidences that the Salvation Army has been denying access to several clients for having sharpened pencils under their bed, nail clippers, tackle box containing fish hooks and various other miscellaneous items not on their list. This actually proves that the Salvation Army routinely bars clients for having items that are not considered weapons.
I stand on My suggestion that a clearly defined list of items determined to be weapons should be Posted in the facility and clients should be advised that nail clippers are not a weapon as many, many clients have been barred for having them. I have a personal Friend who Will testify to this Fact if You have any doubts in regards to My claim.
Once again, this proves that the Shelter operates by its own rules and determines by ‘whim’ what may be considered a weapon so they can abuse the rights of clients.
Abuse of rights is beginning to sound like a theme of Housing Services; integral part of the application for housing subsidy, barring People from the facility for no Good reason when the only listed ‘Standard’ is that no One should be removed unless they are a risk to themselves, other clients and/or staff.
Finally, one last insult by Housing Services to further demonstrate their lack of compassion and/or lack of sensitivity training.
“We trust that the improvements identified will better serve those accessing the services.”
Shelley may as well have just added (though it won’t be You, cause You’re barred for Life!) with one of those laughing emoji’s or something.
Overall, I think it is fair to say that many of the city’s determinations are not correct and/or reasonable.
Now For the Good News
Although I understand these are the ‘city’ determinations, I also understand that the investigation was completed by Housing Services who are ultimately liable for any violations of the Emergency Shelter Standars and therefor have a clear motive to absolve themselves of responsibility and accountability. I also understand that ‘Housing Services’ are not/is not, the city of Ottawa.
My complaint is with the city of Ottawa and Housing Services determination of their investigation into My complaint is clearly both unreasonable and incorrect. I believe if I had not filed an application to the Divisional Court for Judicial review, Housing Services would never have conducted an investigation and would have continued to ignore My complaint. The fact that this investigation had to be enforced by the city of Ottawa’s legal defence council as part of an interim resolution, further demonstrates Housing Services lack of compassion, concern and regard for the well being of clients suffering injury as a result of their negligence and/or violations to the Emergency Shelter Standards.
I was impressed with how seriously the city of Ottawa seemed to take this matter after I had filed My application to the Divisional Court, and appreciate that an investigation was finally concluded. As such, I am cautiously optimistic that We can meet to discuss the incorrect and unreasonable determinations of the Housing Services branch and come to a reasonable and correct resolution to this Matter.
I look forward to hearing from You at Your earliest convenience.
Love and Blessings,
King Sean, House of von Dehn,
Hand of Stephen,
Kingdom of God.