As of January.1st, 2017, the City of Toronto has begun tracking homeless deaths. The process is still in its infancy and has taken the city a while to speak to the public about how the new system is working and what their findings have been.
A press conference was held on January.10th with public health officials, some city councillors discussing how this is a problem that needs addressing in order to fully understand the scope of how many people are dying while homeless. We need this information for raising awareness and improving health.
Street Nurse Cathy Crowe
Up until now, tracking deaths has involved some volunteers from the Toronto Homeless Memorial Network who have called around to a few agencies once a month to find out who has died. The only other information provided by the city are lists of deaths that have occurred in city-funded shelters and even so, this page is not always up to date.Therefore, this does not include any deaths in hospitals or any other locations in the city.
Needless to say, there are many deaths that are not being recorded and we need to do better. Hopefully this new system will show us the extent of the homeless crisis in our city, but we have yet to hear more.
There is a motion recommended by Paul Ainslie and Joe Cressy regarding homeless deaths in the Toronto community.
The following is a list of their recommendations from the City of Toronto website. City council will be considering this motion on March.31st, 2016.
UPDATE: Motion passed 36-1!!
Councillor Paul Ainslie, seconded by Councillor Joe Cressy, recommends that:
1. City Council direct the City Manager to instruct the appropriate City staff to collect all relevant data related to the deaths of homeless individuals for occurrences within and outside homeless shelters.
2. City Council direct that the data collected be shared with the public, agencies, City divisions and Provincial Government ministries for the purposes of influencing decision making through policy and legislation.
3. City Council direct the City Manager to correspond with the appropriate staff within the Government of Ontario in support of introducing a provincial mandate to track all deaths of homeless individuals for the purposes of data collection to introduce policy and legislation.