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Man Evicted, SARS-Quarantined in Bus Shelter

TORONTO, ON (SP) — A local man, in voluntary SARS quarantine after visiting Scarborough Grace Hospital a month ago, was evicted from his Moss Park apartment after being fired and failing to pay his rent cheque. He is spending the remainder of his quarantine in a bus shelter on King St.

Jake Philbus, 42, worked as a dishwasher at Tony's Diner on Parliament St. until early April, at which point he learned of the SARS situation. He realized he had recently been to Scarborough Grace Hospital, one of the hospitals affected by the SARS outbreak. "So I was readin' the paper, eh? An' I see how I'm supposed to go into quarantine, 'cause of bein' in that hospital and whatnot, an' there's a small chance I got SARS. So I tells my boss I need 10 days off, eh? And he's like, screw you, you've called in sick too many times, an' now you want time off when you're not even sick? There's the door."

Philbus went on to describe how he landed on the street due to an unfortunate combination of events, with nowhere to spend his quarantine. His paycheque being withheld resulted in his inability to pay his rent on time for the ninth month in a row, and his subsequent eviction.

Public health officials have provided Philbus with plastic sheeting and duct-tape, with which to seal off the entrance of the bus shelter he selected. They have also issued an official Toronto Public Health quarantine notice for display. After his eighth day of quarantine, Philbus had yet to exhibit any SARS-like symptoms. "I just figure, it's like, doin' my part, you know? Civic duty or whatever you call it. Don't wanna be spreadin' SARS around. If I got it, that is. Guess I probably don't, though. And livin' on the street sucks hard, man."

"My buddy Dave, we was both in the hospital at the same time to get stitches, from bein' in a bar fight together, eh? Anyways, I tells him I'm goin' into quarantine 'cause of the SARS thing, an' he's like, fuck that, man, I got rent to pay an' kids to feed." Philbus' friend did not mention his having visited Scarborough Grace to his employer, and retained his job as a waiter at Tony's Diner.

When asked what he thought of Ontario Premier Ernie Eves' April 24 declaration that the province would look into providing compensation for businesses and individuals impacted by quarantine, Philbus remarked that it would have been nice if his employer had known of that possibility before he was fired. "That'll be great, though. I guess they'll compensate me by helping me get my old job and apartment back, right? That'll show Dave. I mean, spreadin' SARS around an' all. Sometimes you gotta take a hit for the public good, eh?"

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