Background

  • Since 2007, SSHA has collected and reported on deaths of individuals staying in municipally administered shelters. When residents or recent residents of Toronto shelters die, shelter providers must notify the City within 24 hours and submit a written report within 30 days.
  • Note that shelter operators are not generally advised of cause of death information or presented with a Medical Certificate of Death because this information is not readily shared with anyone other than next of kin.
  • 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. For more detailed statistics, see Toronto Public Health’s Monitoring Deaths of Homeless People.

Key Points

  • Since 2007, there have been 565 deaths reported to SSHA, an average of 40 deaths per year.
  • 132 deaths occurred in 2021, which is the highest count since the beginning of SSHA’s reporting in 2007.
  • While shelter operators do not have access to cause of death information, opioid overdose as a reported suspected cause of death by shelter operators has increased over the past three (3) years, with a significant increase in 2021. Enhanced harm reduction supports (i.e., iPHARE) were implemented in December 2020 in response to this trend.
  • More information about data on overdoses in homelessness services settings can be found online
  • More information about iPHARE can be found online
  • The average age of decedents in 2021 was 47.0 years, continuing a downward trend that began in 2018 when the average age at death was 56.5 years. This trend toward a younger average age of decedents is driven by the increase in deaths where an overdose is reported as the suspected cause of death. Over the past three years, the average age for decedents where an overdose is the suspected cause of death was 43.0 years.

Data Summary

Of the 565 deaths of shelter residents reported to SSHA since 2007:

  • The average number of deaths per year has been 40.4
  • The majority of decedents have identified as cis gendered male: 440 or 77.9%
  • The average age at death across all genders has been 52.6 years
  • 231 deaths (or 40.9%) occurred within a shelter/respite facility or outdoors but on shelter property whereas 334 deaths (or 59.1%) occurred off-site (e.g., at a healthcare facility or in the community).

Of the 132 deaths of shelter residents reported to SSHA in 2021:

  • 96 (72.9%) were cis male, 31 (25.7%) were cis female and five (1.4%) were transgender (male or female) or non-binary
  • The average age at death was 47.0 years
  • 76 of 132 deaths (or 57.6%) occurred within shelter. The remainder occurred in other locations (i.e. hospital) and were reported to SSHA as recent residents.