The BC Federation of Labour today released the following statement:
We condemn the callous, dehumanizing tactics used by Mayor Ken Sim’s administration in forcibly dismantling encampments in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Their actions will do nothing to address the needs that have given rise to these encampments and will instead inflict misery on some of our communities' most marginalized residents and expose them to even greater dangers. The greatest impact will be felt by Indigenous and racialized people, those facing accessibility barriers, trans and gender-diverse people, and others over-represented in poverty and homelessness.
As the BC Human Rights Commissioner has made clear, while nobody would claim encampments are acceptable alternatives to housing, forced dismantling only serves to scatter residents to new encampments or more dangerous situations. The Federal Housing Advocate has rightly called their dismantling a “serious violation of human rights.” Unhoused people should be able to count on their governments and police alike to protect their rights and dignity — including the fundamental human right to housing.
We also recognize the impact this profoundly misguided action will have on workers — including those who were assigned to that work and who had no legal capacity to reject it, and those whose work includes facing the ensuing surge in demand on health and community services.
We call on the City of Vancouver to immediately halt dismantling encampments and we call on all levels of government to recommit to a trauma-informed, human-rights based approach, and to bring new urgency to the work of ensuring quality supports, services and spaces are available to provide safe, dignified housing for all who need it.