Home Safe Toronto (2009)

 "It’s a human right for you to have shelter and food…. It’s an emergency that people need to have a good income."
- Miryam Canas-Mendes, Film Participant

Home Safe Toronto is the second film in SkyWorks' Home Safe documentary series, which deals with how Canadian families with children live with the threat and the reality of homelessness.  It shows how the housing crisis in Canada is an expression of the increasing economic and job insecurity that has devastated the manufacturing sector in the Greater Toronto Area and throughout southern Ontario.  The film reveals the consequences of this “new economy”, where families surviving on low wages with no benefits, or on dwindling social assistance, are faced with the terrible choice between keeping a roof over their heads or putting food on the table. 

For families in economic crisis, the threat of losing safe and secure housing lives out in many ways. Some families are forced to relinquish their homes and double-up with friends or family. Others rush to sell their homes before the bank forecloses on their defaulted mortgages. Tenants who are financially vulnerable are stretched to pay too much rent for sub-standard housing, or face the threat of an eviction notice. Some must resort to seek refuge in shelters.


Home Safe Toronto reveals how close homelessness is to so many of us. The participants who share their experiences are hard-working, hopeful Canadians who have followed the rules and done their best to achieve modest dreams.

Rose and her husband both work, yet after twenty-eight years in Canada Rose and her family are unable to escape the cramped confines of a family shelter. Debbie struggles to cover the monthly rent on her less-than-minimum-wage job with a cleaning service, while her daughter Phaon helps out with her paper route. The Taylors and the Richards are two families sideswiped by the collapse of the Ontario auto sector, a calamity that makes little distinction between unionized and non-unionized workers. The Taylor sons, Ryan and Shane, Phaon and her best friend Jocelyn, and students from Toronto's Voice School all talk about homelessness from a kids' perspective, revealing disappointment with their society as well as their hopes for the future.

But while some stories are wrenching, others offer inspiration and hope. René and Miryam are single moms whose experiences of homelessness and poverty have made them passionate and determined advocates for the rights of others. And at the CAW Chrysler Action Centre and the PMP Workers Action Centre, we meet laid-off employees who have banded together to support each other through a period of profound insecurity and stress.

Together, their stories open our eyes and our hearts and inspire a new determination to end homelessness in Canada.


Home Safe Toronto is available for use by community groups, professional associations, family support services, colleges and universities, activists, teachers and school boards. It is part of a tool kit of materials to help plan local strategies for action and change. A User Guide and comprehensive Home Safe Teacher Resource Guide can be downloaded here.

Your organization can contact SkyWorks to book a screening or workshop with the film, and to request SkyWorks facilitators to be on hand to facilitate a discussion with your group or audience. To inquire about a screening, contact SkyWorks at (416) 536-6581 or info@skyworksfoundation.org.

Home Safe Toronto and the complete Home Safe Series are available for purchase or rental from our distributor, Vtape at: Tel (416) 351-1317 or wandav@vtape.org