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Missing mother found in hospital after illegal group home shut-down

A woman who went missing after being evicted from an illegal and unsafe group home last week was located in hospital by police late Monday night.

Her daughter Sonia contacted CityNews Monday morning saying her mother was one of the residents at a group home in Scarborough that was shut down by Toronto Fire on Thursday night because of multiple ongoing fire code violations. 

“I don’t know if she has her medication, she has diabetes, I don’t know if she’s being taken care of at all,” said Sonia. CityNews has chosen not to publish her mother’s name to protect her privacy.

There were 10 other vulnerable people living in the home and the Red Cross took them to a nearby hotel on Thursday.

No one from the group home, the city or the Red Cross called to tell Sonia her mother was being moved. Sonia went to the hotel when she found out, but she says no one had seen her mother for two days. She also checked local hospitals and planned to file a missing persons report.

“These are the people you are passing on the street downtown, these are the people outside we think we’re scared of, but that’s my mom,” Sonia said.

Like many of the other residents in illegal group homes, Sonia’s mother has been struggling with mental health issues for decades. She has tried to take care of her mom, but says her mother needs constant help and she is unable to provide round-the-clock care. The group home was her last resort.

“She has nowhere else to go. The hospitals are full, the shelters don’t want her, we’ve tried to take care of her but because of the help she needs, I’m unable to do it for her.”

The operator of the group home, Winston Manning, was mentioned in an OPP investigation into illegal group homes that found people living in appalling conditions — with mouse droppings, inadequate food, people sleeping on mattresses on the floor and the smell of urine and feces. Our CityNews investigation discovered similar findings.

Despite the fact the house was deemed unsafe, Sonia isn’t sure it should have been shut down.

“I know a lot of people are against Winston, but he’s the last stop, he’s the person helping me and my family,” she said.

Sonia says when she went to the hotel, she found six former residents still at the home. She says what little food they had was given to them by the group home operators.

While Toronto Fire was shutting down the group home last week, deputy chief Jim Jessop told CityNews his department, and other emergency workers, were being put in the “horrible situation” of having to kick people out of their homes. “This is not something we want to do,” he said.

Sonia believes the government needs to step in and ensure that the sick and elderly have adequate and timely care — the wait for licensed provincial homes can be months or years.

“Which one is worse? The lesser of the two evils?” she asks. “Would you rather someone have a roof and heat and a possible chance of something that may be life threatening or would you rather them freezing outside?”

Apart from being found in hospital, there was no word on Sonia’s mother’s condition at the time of publishing.