Coronavirus: Pandemic highlights need for more public toilets, experts say

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TORONTO – The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for more public toilets in communities across Canada, particularly as softening restrictions encourage people to spend more time outside their homes, advocates and experts say.

The health crisis is drawing broader attention to an issue that has long been a barrier for racialized, trans and disabled people, as well those dealing with homelessness or poverty, the experts say.

Scarce access to washrooms was recently raised as a hurdle for essential workers, such as transit and truck drivers who could no longer rely on coffee shops and other businesses once those were ordered closed.

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In the early days of Ontario’s lockdown, Toronto Mayor John Tory pleaded with shuttered businesses to allow essential workers to use their bathrooms.

But as some provinces begin to reopen their economies – and residents increasingly venture outside _ the demand for restrooms will rise, even though commercial facilities will remain largely off-limits, said Lezlie Lowe, author of “No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs.”

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“We don’t have this tradition of on-street, accessible, paid-for-by-municipal-governments bathroom provision.

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