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 359 reported deaths, with an average of 27.6 deaths per year.
  • Since 2007, 174 of the 242 deaths (71.9%) 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 2019: there were 48 deaths with the average age of decedent of 54.3 years. 2015 had the second-highest number of reported deaths with 45 and an average age of 58.3 years. In 2019, 25,764 unique individuals and households were admitted to Toronto’s shelter system.
  • Of the deaths that occurred within shelters since 2007 (117 deaths), the highest number have occurred at Seaton House (52 deaths) followed by Homes First Society – Strachan House (16 deaths) and Salvation Army – Maxwell Meighen Centre (9 deaths).

Background

  • In 2007, SSHA and Toronto Public Health (TPH) developed a database to track Death of a 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).
  • In 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 elected to continue to monitor this data and present annual findings to the SSHA senior management and key external audiences.
  • 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 359 reported deaths of shelter residents since 2007:

  • The average number of deaths per year is 27.6
  • The majority of decedents were male (290 or 81%), with no transgender/other gender decedents reported
  • The average age at death was 54.9 years (all genders combined), with males at 55.3 years and females at 53.1 years
  • Age breakdown:
    • 2 (0.6%) were children (0-15 years)
    • 7 (2.0%) were youth (16-24 years)
    • 231 (64.3%) were adults (25-60 years)
    • 119 (33.1%) were seniors (61+ years)
  • 117 deaths occurred within shelter and 242 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 (166 combined), which represents 46.2% of total deaths
  • The median length of stay in shelter prior to death was 85.5 days, with a range between 1 and 5,478 days

Of the 48 reported deaths of shelter residents in 2019:

  • The majority of decedents were male (38 or 79.1%), 10 (20.8%) were female and there were no transgender/other gender decedents reported
  • The average age at death was 54.3 years, with male decedents at 57.2 years and females at 43.2 years
  • Age breakdown:
    • 1 (2.1%) were children (0-15 years)
    • 1 (2.1%) were youth (16-24 years)
    • 26 (54.2%) were adults (25-60 years)
    • 20 (41.6%) were seniors (61+ years)
  • 19 deaths occurred within shelter and 29 deaths occurred outside of shelter
  • 20 of 29 deaths (68.9%) outside of shelter occurred in some type of health care facility, with St. Michael’s Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital being the most common locations
  • The median length of stay in shelter prior to death was 68.5 days, with a range between 1 and 3,659 days