Established by the President of the Royal Society of Canada in April 2020, the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 was mandated to provide evidence-informed perspectives on major societal challenges in response to and recovery from COVID-19. 

The Task Force established a series of Working Groups to rapidly develop Policy Briefings, with the objective of supporting policy makers with evidence to inform their decisions. 

Full Report

Executive Summary

Overview of “Seeking Shelter: Homelessness and COVID-19"

Those experiencing homelessness in Canada are impacted inequitably due to their increased exposure, vulnerability of environment and medical comorbidities, and their lack of access to preventive care and treatment in the context of the pandemic. In shelter environments one is unable to effectively physically distance, maintain hygiene, obtain a test or isolate. As a result, unique strategies are required for this population to protect them and those who serve them.

The recommendations provided in this Policy Brief are intended to reduce or prevent further negative consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic for people experiencing homelessness. This brief can also be applied to other rapidly emergent acute respiratory infections.

Authors of the Report

Stefan Baral, MD, MPH, CCFP, FRCPC: Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Population Health Physician, Inner City Health Associates

Andrew Bond, MD, CCFP, FCFP, MHA(c), Medical Director, Inner City Health Associates, Lecturer, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

Andrew Boozary, MD, MPP, SM: Executive Director, Population Health and Social Medicine, University Health Network, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto and Columbia University

Eva Bruketa, Medical Student, Queens University

Nika Elmi, Master of Science in Public Health, Candidate 2021, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Deirdre Freiheit, President & CEO, Shepherds of Good Hope, Ottawa

Monty Ghosh, S. MD, FRCPC: Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of General Internal Medicine & Neurology, University of Alberta, Department of Medicine & Psychiatry, University of Calgary

Marie Eve Goyer, MD, MSc, CCMF (MT): Assistant Professor, Family Medicine and Emergency Department, University of Montréal

Aaron M. Orkin, MD, MSc, MPH, CCFP(EM), FCFP, FRCPC: Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto; Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Humber River Hospital; Population Health Lead, Inner City Health Associates, Toronto.

Jamie Patel, Nursing Student, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario

Tim Richter, President & CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness

Angela Robertson, Executive Director, Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, Toronto

Christy Sutherland, MD, CCFP (AM), dABAM: Medical Director, PHS Community Services Society, Clinical Associate Professor, UBC Department of Family Medicine

Tomislav Svoboda, MD, MSc, PhD, FCRCPC, CCFP: Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

Jeffrey Turnbull (Chair), MD, FRCP: Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Medical Director, Ottawa Inner city Health

Alexander Wong, MD, FRCPC: Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan

Alice Zhu, Medical student, University of Toronto


For further information or for media requests, contact Erika Kujawski at 

This report has also been published in the FACETS collection of RSC Policy Briefings. The report is available here

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