A man collapsed Tuesday afternoon during a press conference announcing the establishment of in-house health-care services at Toronto's five newest shelters.
"I think we've just seen a good example of why we need health care in our system," said homeless advocate Alexander Zsager, who took to the mic to share his experience shortly after paramedics and firefighters arrived to treat the individual and transport him to the hospital.
One of the first people who rushed to help the man was Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario's minister of health and long-term care.
Moments earlier, Hoskins announced that the province in partnership with health-care providers, shelter operators, the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network and city staff is supporting the development and implementation of a new shelter health-services pilot project.
The cost of the initiative has yet to be determined and the needs and resource requirements of each shelter must still be assessed.
The Salvation Army's newly opened New Hope Leslieville shelter is one of the five facilities to take part in the pilot. The other four are Runnymede, Birchmount, Kennedy Road and Warden.
Zsager, who was formerly homeless, welcomed the news and said it's "unacceptable and ridiculous" that those in the shelter system often have to wait months, even up to a year, to access essential health services.
Hoskins said it's time to rethink the way health care is delivered to society's most vulnerable.
"This is an incredibly positive step forward," he said, adding an advisory committee consisting of shelter operators, shelter users and health-service providers would help guide and shape the project, which he hopes will eventually be expanded across the shelter system.
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|BYLINE:||Joanna Lavoie Beach Mirror|