McNabb Respite Centre: The first ever meaningful response to Covid-19 to provide toilets and showers to the vulnerable population of Ottawa
September 22, 2020
With city public toilets shuttered and businesses curtailing public access to safe, clean and accessible toilets during the historic pandemic, the McNabb Respite Centre has stepped in to help fill that gap. Since opening its doors in May 2020, the number of people using the Respite Centre has risen to over 300 visitors per week. This has been especially beneficial for those who are homeless, precariously housed, or living in overcrowded rooming houses and shelters.
As the first and only report of this nature, this locally-focused and timely initiative reaffirms that access to toilets, showers and a safe, clean accessible space is essential public health service and basic human rights. The report prepared by Kristina Ropke, Core Team Member of GottaGo Campaign, is based on interviews with staff members who play a key role in the day-to-day delivery of services at the Centre and people who use it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that public toilets are fundamentally a public health issue while highlighting the highly inadequate situation of public toilets in Ottawa. The report calls attention to “The City of Ottawa needs to provide safe, clean, and accessible toilets to serve the needs of people who are homeless or in precarious housing arrangements. Relying on local businesses and coffee shops to fill the gaps in providing safe, clean and accessible toilets is not a realistic expectation and, furthermore, it is not working.”
The GottaGo! campaign is asking that the Mayor of Ottawa and City Council to renew the McNabb Respite Centre’s mandate and to open similar centres in different neighbourhoods for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For more information, please contact: