February 18, 2020

Please post this bulletin in a conspicuous area accessible to shelter staff.

Dear Shelter / Respite Provider,

As you are aware, the City of Toronto is experiencing an extreme cold weather alert.

During an extreme cold weather alert, it is imperative that shelter and respite providers do not turn away individuals who are looking for shelter or a place to come inside from the cold. Programs should temporarily suspend all service restrictions except in circumstances where the individual poses an immediate threat or danger to others.

It is essential that information in the Shelter Management Information System (SMIS) is as up-to-date and accurate as possible.

The information in SMIS is critical in connecting people looking for referrals to a safe, warm space.

To assist in ensuring an effective system flow, this bulletin highlights key sections of the Toronto Shelter Standards for staff to employ:

  • Ensure that the service queues are clear of “stale” intakes, by using the “closeout” drop down option if clients are no longer being served in your programs
  • Complete intakes in SMIS in real time for every client that requests support services; this allows for better management of the system and the ability to ensure requests for shelter beds are prioritized appropriately
  • Do not hold beds for clients referred to your shelter longer than 2.5 hours
  • Make vacant beds available for use as soon as practical in order to facilitate new admissions
  • Make sure clients are aware of curfew times and that they may be discharged if they miss curfew with no communication or explanation (beds must not be held after curfew unless a client’s service plan requires it)
  • Emergency shelter beds that are vacant as a result of an approved Leave with Permission should be treated as an available bed and assigned to clients seeking shelter
  • Notify Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) immediately of any and all planned service disruptions

In order to assist with managing capacity demands, please also ensure the following:

  • Report serious occurrences immediately to SSHA and document in SMIS within 12 hours
  • Document incidents in SMIS using the SMIS incident reporting module as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours after the incident