Media Release: Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Attila Csanyi

The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, along with co-counsel Jen Danch of Swadron Associates, will be representing the family of Attila Csanyi at the upcoming Coroner’s Inquest into his death. The inquest will begin on April 30th, 2024 at 9:30 AM and is expected to continue for two to three weeks. The fourth anniversary of Attila’s passing will fall during the proceedings, on May 2, 2024. 

Attila died of a drug overdose on the roof of Jackson Square in Hamilton, Ontario on May 2nd, 2020. Seven weeks before his death Attila was evicted from his home at Sampaguita Lodging & Rest Home, a Residential Care Facility (RCF) on March 11th, 2020. His eviction occurred outside of the process outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act. Following his extra-juridical eviction, Attila was effectively displaced onto the street, and relied on Hamilton’s congregate shelter system at the turn of the 2020 COVID-19 public health crisis.

Proceedings before the Coroner

A coroner’s inquest is an opportunity for members of the public to hear about the circumstances surrounding the death of a community member and neighbour. Outcomes from a coroner’s inquest are determined by a jury, composed of members of the public. In addition to answering the five required questions mandated by the proceeding, the jury may make recommendations to various levels of government, institutions and individuals aimed at preventing future deaths under similar circumstances. 

The jury will hear from witnesses for the Hamilton Police Service, City of Hamilton, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and Sampaguita Lodging and Rest Home, in addition to Attila’s brother and father. It is expected that experts in the areas of homelessness, residential care facilities and tenant’s rights will also be called to give evidence. 

Anticipated Evidence and Recommendations Attila’s family will be seeking

We anticipate that this inquest will draw attention to the institutional failings that created the conditions for the destabilization of Attila’s housing and supportive care in the weeks prior to his death. The jury will hear evidence about the history of RCFs’ operations, oversight and funding structures; the unique vulnerabilities of residents living within care homes; and the role of community organizations and support workers in the overall care and wellbeing of RCF tenants. Ultimately, once all of the evidence is heard, the jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths of individuals in similar situations. 

Having spent a significant amount of time reviewing the evidence yielded through the investigation into Attila’s death and the historical, social location of Residential Care Facilities within the current housing and health care landscape, counsel for Attila’s family anticipates recommendations may flow from and be aimed at: 

  • Public transparency and oversight of Residential Care Facilities at both provincial and municipal levels of government
  • Greater recognition and increased protection of tenant rights for residents living within Residential Care Facilities
  • Improved patient-directed care within homes offering supportive care services
  • Increased outpatient psychiatric funding and multidisciplinary services to meet the needs of individuals with concurrent mental health disabilities and substance use disorders

Link to View the Inquest
To access the livestream for the inquest, please use this link: 


Media inquiries
At this time, we will be responding to media inquiries in writing. Please direct inquiries to the attention of “Counsel for the Family – Csanyi Inquest”  at

Foreign landlord fails to pay taxes, CRA goes after tenant.

If your landlord is not a resident of Canada, the tenant has to pay 25% of the rent to the CRA. If they don’t, and if the landlord does not pay the required taxes, the tenant can be held liable with all of the interest and penalties.

Source: Foreign landlord fails to pay taxes, CRA goes after tenant. (Kerry Gold, The Globe and Mail Published April 12, 2024)


The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic is deeply troubled by this decision. Shifting the burden of tax-collection onto renters demonstrates a stunning disregard for the protection of and well-being on Canadian tenants. The idea that a residential tenant ought to be in a position to determine their landlord’s tax obligations, if the landlord has met their tax obligations and then withhold rent accordingly, demonstrates a clear disconnection between the people writing and interpreting our laws and the real world in which Canadians live. We urge the Federal Government to quickly act to address this clear injustice.

Rainbow Alliance Dryden et al. v. Webster

On December 14, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decided in Rainbow Alliance Dryden et al. v. Webster to allow a defamation suit by a drag performer and a 2SLGBTQI community organization against an individual who publicly called them “groomers” to continue to trial.

In doing so, the court initially ruled that there is no public interest in protecting baseless accusations of child sexual abuse against 2SLGBTQI people.
The court then relied on Egale Canada’s intervention to affirm the exact opposite: Because false accusations of pedophilia have been weaponized against 2SLGBTQI people to deny members of our communities equal rights and opportunities for decades, the law must allow people being targeted by these homophobic and transphobic myths to pursue defamation claims.

In recent years, drag performers putting on family-friendly shows have been increasingly targeted with the baseless accusation that they are grooming children for sexual abuse. The correct use of the word “grooming” refers to practices by which sexual abusers gain access to victims, usually children and youth, and coerce and manipulate them to facilitate sexual abuse. 

Drag performances are a form of cultural expression and the equation of drag performances to child grooming is based on the homophobic and transphobic belief that gender diversity is inherently dangerous to children. The court accepted that the term “groomer” has come to function as a slur against drag performers and 2SLGBTQI people more broadly.

The court’s decision finds the use of the “groomer” slur against drag performers to be rhetoric based on hurtful and hateful myths and stereotypes

This is an important decision for 2SLGBTQI communities that comes at a time when we are facing unprecedented levels of hate, harassment, and violence fuelled by the spread of misinformation and disinformation. As noted in the court’s decision, the term “groomer” is a slur used against drag performers that is “rhetoric based on hurtful, and hateful myths and stereotypes…”

This decision represents the significant finding that calling drag performers “groomers” is an accusation of child sexual abuse and that people targeted by that accusation have the right to take legal action to protect their reputations.

Credits and Source: Egale Canada

Injured Migrant Workers Win of Victory!

Tribunal ruled that the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) has been illegally reducing compensation of racialized injured migrant workers for decades.

Last week, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal ruled that the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) has been illegally reducing compensation of racialized injured migrant workers for decades. In an extensive ruling that took official notice of the institutional racism that migrant farm workers face, the Tribunal determined that the WSIB’s practice of ending compensation to migrant farm workers was illegal, and reinstated Loss of Earnings compensation to a group of four permanently injured migrant workers from Jamaica. 

The ruling stems from a WSIB practice that reduces partially injured migrant workers’ Loss of Earnings benefits after 12 weeks by pretending they can earn income from suitable work in Ontario even though such work is not available to injured migrants. 

Leroy Thomas is one of the appellants. As a participant on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), Thomas left his young family in Jamaica to work the fields in Ontario for up to 8 months a year.

In 2017, he suffered a permanent back injury that ended his 16 year career in Ontario. The WSIB knew that Thomas could not come back to work in Ontario with his injury, but cut his benefits as if he could. It told Thomas that, if he could still work in Ontario, he could restore his income with his disability by getting a job as a parking lot attendant. It ended his Loss of Earnings compensation shortly after his injury as if he was working that job. The WSIB’s practice forced Thomas, and injured migrant workers like him, into poverty with no realistic way of restoring their income in Jamaica with their injuries. Thomas started to organize with Justice for Migrant Workers and Injured Workers Action for Justice to press the WSIB for changes. He also appealed his case with three other injured migrant workers. In their landmark decision, the Tribunal said that WSIB must provide meaningful retraining and/or compensation based on the individual circumstances and labour market realities that migrant workers face in their home countries. In doing so, it determined that migrant workers are entitled to the same.

The cost of the Ontario Nutritious Food Basket in Hamilton for a reference family of four (2 adults and 2 school-aged children) rose from $1031 per month in 2022 to $1110 per month in 2023, representing an increase of approximately 8%.

Ontario Food Costs Rising

Public Health is directed by the Ministry of Health to monitor food affordability. This is achieved by conducting a survey of food costs in a sample of Hamilton grocery stores using a tool called the Ontario Nutritious Food Basket (ONFB). Food costing was conducted in Hamilton in May 2023.

Results from 2023 have been posted on the City of Hamilton’s web page, Monitoring Affordability in Hamilton:

To monitor food affordability, monthly costs of food plus the average cost of market rental housing in Hamilton are compared to incomes for eight individual and family scenarios. The family/individual income scenarios can be downloaded by clicking on this document: Household scenarios comparing income to monthly expenses in Hamilton.

The methodology used for surveying food costs in Hamilton in 2022 was repeated in 2023 and therefore results are comparable. The cost of the ONFB in Hamilton for a reference family of four (2 adults and 2 school-aged children) rose from $1031/month in 2022 to $1110/month in 2023, representing an increase of approximately 8%.

With the rising costs of food and rental prices, the HCLC will continue to, and encourages other individuals, organizations and stakeholders to empower our communities; especially those whose identities intersect with racial, gendered, sexual, disabled, and many other lines.

Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program Discretionary Benefits: Cooling Devices

Recipients of Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) may be eligible to obtain a cooling device (such as an air conditioner) as a discretionary benefit.

As the frequency of extreme heat events occurs, the need for cooling devices increases. Those without access to cool spaces during extreme heat events can be subjected to prolonged exposure. Such exposure can cause loss of internal temperature regulation which can lead to various negative health effects or, in some cases, death.

The impacts of extreme heat events disproportionately effect certain vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, low-income earners, and individuals with existing health vulnerabilities.

Learn more, including eligibility requirements and restrictions, in OW and ODSP Discretionary Benefits and Cooling Devices (PDF). This is a resource developed by the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

Joint Statement Regarding Encampment Ruling


Joint Statement Regarding Encampment Ruling in The Regional Municipality of Waterloo v. Persons Unknown et al.

February 1, 2023

Last Friday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its long-awaited decision on the Region of Waterloo’s Application to remove individuals from a homeless encampment. The Court held that the Region could not remove people from the encampment without violating their right to “life, liberty and security of the person” guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Superior Court made the following factual findings:

  • There are not enough shelter spaces to accommodate the Region’s homeless population.
  • Shelter spaces are often not accessible due to prohibitive rules, such as not allowing couples to stay together.
  • The forced eviction from encampments has serious impacts on the physical and mental health of individuals experiencing homelessness, ultimately creating a situation where they are even more vulnerable/at risk.

We have repeatedly raised the very same issues with the City of Hamilton and continue to do so in the Charter Application currently before the Superior Court about encampments in Hamilton. We are confident that when our case is heard, the Superior Court’s judgment in the Region of Waterloo case will be followed for Hamilton.

Until the City can provide encampment residents with immediate, permanent and supportive housing, any kind of encampment eviction violates the Charter. In addition to violating the rights to life, liberty and security of the person, encampment evictions discriminate against unhoused Indigenous and racialized individuals, women, people with disabilities, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and families. Until the City invests in and delivers permanent, affordable housing and related supports, the Charter requires the City to permit people to use tents and other survival materials.

Instead of complying with the Charter and taking meaningful and concrete steps to respond to these longstanding concerns, the City continues to rely on By-law enforcement and eviction, and on pouring resources into fruitless litigation that could be spent on affordable housing.

Indeed, the City has just recommended hiring two additional Municipal Law Enforcement Officers, at an annual cost of $277,000.00, and two Hamilton Police Services officers at an annual cost of $268,646.00 (see agenda item 10.4). Policing continues to be a violent and inappropriate solution to the lack of affordable housing. We oppose it unequivocally.

The City’s own Report arising from consultation sessions states “encampment evictions have profoundly negative impact on people’s physical and mental well-being.” The Superior Court reached the same conclusion. It remains to be seen whether Council will finally acknowledge these profound harms, move away from By-law enforcement, and focus on the creation of affordable housing.

The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, Hāki Chambers Global, Ross & McBride, and the Community Legal Clinic of York Region, continue to challenge the City’s discriminatory approach to encampments and unhoused residents in Court, until such time as Council takes steps to remedy the harm the City has caused to houseless residents.

For media inquiries please contact:

Sujit Choudhry: (416) 436-3679, (917) 683-1380

Sharon Crowe: (437) 218-2364

Ashley Wilson: (905) 572-5833

Statement on anti-2SLGBTQ+ action at Terryberry Library

On November 24th, 2022, a hate rally was organized in response to a family-friendly Drag Storytime event being held at the Terryberry library. Unfortunately, in response to the organization of this event, a small group of bigots gathered in an attempt to disrupt and protest. The words and actions of this group were in line with the rising tide of violence and hate that Queer communities across Canada are facing. Their allegations against the organizers, talent, and Queer community more broadly, have no basis in reality, and are irresponsible, ignorant, and dangerous. The Queer Justice Project and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic condemn this hateful demonstration.

Such events are displays of ignorant bigotry that are putting our Queer communities in danger. It must not rest solely on Queer communities to bear witness, defend against, and call out this pattern of hate and violence. For our community at large, who might be just engaging with issues impacting the Queer community, we encourage you to take advantage of numerous educational and informational tools that can accessed online, including through the Hamilton Public Library. Queerness challenges and calls on all of us to reconsider beliefs and realities about more than just gender and sexuality but about how we love and live alongside each other in ways that respect and celebrate differences. All members of our community should rise to that challenge out of a shared spirit of love and acceptance – and not hatred and violence.

View the full statement on anti-2SLGBTQ+ action at Terryberry library

For Immediate Release – Press Conference on Police Violence in the Community


July 28, 2022


Earlier this year, Constable Brian Wren was charged with assault. Police service said it received a video from a business and a citizen after police arrested a suspect in a stolen vehicle investigation. Police said the officer’s use of force led to a criminal investigation.

Const. Brian Wren was immediately suspended and now also faces an assault charge. His first court appearance was July 21.

The individual assaulted and harmed is a member of the City of Hamilton Indigenous community. Members of the Indigenous community are very concerned that this appears not to be an isolated incident. This is the second time this has happened to this individual. The Hamilton Regional Indian Friendship Centre has justice related programs and reports that these types of allegations of aggressive police behaviours are frequent. This particular assault needs to be taken seriously, and major changes need to be made to not only protect our Indigenous relatives but also help protect our relatives of colour, members of various other ethnic backgrounds and members of other marginalized groups.

A full press release will take place on Tuesday August 2, 2022 at 1230pm in front of Hamilton Police Services downtown central location at 155 King William Street, Hamilton Ontario with members of Indigenous leadership, Indigenous community members and our friends and allies.

In solidarity.

For Immediate Release – Response to Councillor Nann’s Motion Re: Encampment Response

January 21, 2022 


Hamilton Community Legal Clinic’s Response to Councillor Nann’s Motion Re: Encampment Response

Hamilton Community Legal Clinic welcomes Council’s vote to change the way it responds to encampments. Specifically, the City has agreed to consult with community stakeholders, including front line services working with the unhoused population, those with lived experience, and the health sector, to create a “human rights based, health focused approach to housing”. A copy of the motion can be reviewed by clicking here.

We have always encouraged this type of collaboration and person-centred approach.

Tackling the issue of homelessness and some of its root causes can seem like a monumental undertaking. There are, however, immediate alternatives to encampments evictions which do not require significant funding changes: revising and unifying shelter service restriction policies so that fewer people are unnecessarily banned from shelters, temporarily suspending by-law enforcement, and allocating existing emergency funds to affordable housing projects like tiny cabins (which have already been established in various municipalities).

We are pleased to see the City signal a willingness to engage in an open dialogue on an incredibly important matter. We encourage the City of Hamilton to prioritize these discussions and resolution in light of the urgency of the ongoing pandemic, shelter and housing crisis.

We are hopeful that the newly formed committee results in solutions that address and eradicate the harms associated with homelessness and evicting encampment residents.

For a copy of this letter, please click here: Statement