toronto public washrooms

Toronto deputy mayor slammed over controversial public washroom comments

A heated city council debate resulted in a call for resignation or an apology from Toronto's deputy mayor after he suggested that opening more public washrooms would encourage homeless encampments.

Councillor Mike Layton took to Twitter Friday morning to slam deputy mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong for his comments, calling them unethical and unpractical.

"Public toilets should be a human right. Most 24h restaurants are closed, so people experiencing homelessness have few options to practice basic hygiene. While our city struggles with a homelessness crisis, we still need to meet basic human needs. Washrooms included," Layton said via Twitter.

He pointed out that denying access to public washrooms in the winter hurts not only the homeless but also families with children, delivery drivers and front-line workers.

"It is not fair for us to order in dinner, bang our pots & pans for front line workers, then lock our doors when these people need to pee," Layton continued. "Denying access to washrooms denies people of their dignity."

"So have a heart Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong - apologize for your comments or resign as deputy mayor because our city deserves better."

Currently, the city of Toronto website lists less than 200 winter washrooms across city parks and rec facilities, many of which have limited hours or lack accessibility. This short supply has left countless residents unable to answer when nature's call rings.

Even Juno-award winning band Arkells recently called out the city for its lack of public washroom options.

Despite this, Minnan-Wong responded to a movement to winterize more washrooms going forward by suggesting residents don't want to turn parks into campgrounds for the homeless. 

Critics of the deputy mayor believe comments such as these not only lack empathy but promote public urination by limiting sanitary options in a time when hygiene is more important than ever.

Lead photo by

Olivia Little

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