The Toronto Shelter Standards require that shelter operators provide written reports of the deaths of clients or recent clients to the City within 30 days. Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA), has collected this information since 2007, and does an annual review of the data.

Key Points

  • Since 2007, there have been 311 reported deaths, with an average of 28.2 deaths per year.
  • Since 2007, 153 of the 213 deaths (71.8%) that occurred outside of shelter took place in some type of health care facility (e.g. hospital, palliative or hospice care).
  • The highest number of deaths occurred in 2015: there were 45 deaths with the average age of decedent of 58.3 years. 2017 had the second-highest number of reported deaths with 35 and an average age of 55.5 years. Between 16,000 and 19,000+ unique individuals accessed the shelter system each year since 2007.
  • Of the deaths that occurred within shelters the most deaths have occurred in Seaton House programs (i.e., Main Hostel, Annex/Infirmary and Long-Term programs), year over year.
  • The Death of a Shelter Resident Reporting Form, Guidebook (i.e., instructions for shelter providers about when and how deaths of shelter residents are reported), and the relevant guideline were updated in January 2016 in order to simplify the reporting requirements, thereby improving the timeliness and reliability of reported information.

Background

  • SSHA, in conjunction with Toronto Public Health (TPH), developed a database to track Death of Shelter Resident (DoSR) data. This data, along with similar data from the provincial Coroner’s Office and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, was collected annually by TPH and reported bi-annually to the Toronto Board of Health.
  • The Office of the Chief Coroner discontinued its practice of monitoring homeless deaths (under the TIDE project). Additionally, the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee lacked sufficient resources to continue to formally track homeless deaths.
  • In June 2010, TPH announced that it would discontinue the biannual reporting of aggregate findings and trends in deaths in the homeless population, in response to this loss of data sources. SSHA was no longer obliged to report to TPH.
  • SSHA elected to continue to monitor this data and present annual findings to the SSHA General Manager, Director of Operations, Manager of Operations and Support Services and the Manager of Policy and Planning.
  • In 2013, SSHA committed to publishing DoSR statistics on the City of Toronto website.
  • In 2017, City Council directed TPH to expand the scope of data capture and reporting of the deaths of homeless persons that occur beyond the SSHA reporting criteria. SSHA continues to supplement TPH data collection efforts with quarterly reporting from its DoSR database.

Data Summary

Of the 311 reported deaths of shelter residents since 2007:

  • The average number of deaths per year is 28.2
  • The majority of decedents were male (252 or 81%), with no transgender/other gender decedents reported
  • The average age at death was 55.0 years (all genders combined), with males at 55.0 years and females at 54.9 years
  • Age breakdown:
    • 1 (0.3%) were children (0-15 years)
    • 6 (1.9%) were youth (16-24 years)
    • 205 (65.9%) were adults (25-60 years)
    • 99 (31.8%) were seniors (61+ years)
  • 98 deaths occurred within shelter and 213 deaths occurred outside of shelter
  • 150 of 213 deaths (70.4%) outside of shelter occurred in some type of health care facility (e.g. hospital, palliative/hospice care)
  • Seaton House’s Main Hostel, Annex/Infirmary and Long-Term programs have reported the most deaths (147, combined), which represents 47.2% of total deaths
  • The median length of stay in shelter prior to death was 87 days, with a range between 1 and 5,475 days

Of the 26 reported deaths of shelter residents in 2018:

  • The majority of decedents were male (23 or 88.4%), with no transgender/other gender decedents reported
  • The average age at death was 56.5 years, with male decedents at 58.0 years and females at 45.0 years
  • Age breakdown:
    • 0 were children (0-15 years)
    • 0 were youth (16-24 years)
    • 15 (57.6%) were adults (25-60 years)
    • 11 (42.3%) were seniors (61+ years)
  • 11 deaths occurred within shelter and 15 deaths occurred outside of shelter
  • 12 of 15 deaths (80%) outside of shelter occurred in some type of health care facility, with St. Michael’s Hospital being the most common location
  • The median length of stay in shelter prior to death was 57 days, with a range between 1 and 2,999 days