The City of Toronto is updating the Toronto Shelter Standards with an anti-Black racism (ABR) lens. As part of this process, the City engaged a third-party facilitator, Facilitating Change, to conduct consultations with Black shelter users. Learn more about the process.


City-administered shelters are expected to meet the minimum service standards as articulated in the Toronto Shelter Standards as updated and approved by Council in 2015. Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA) is committed to working collaboratively with providers to identify and take advantage of opportunities for improvement on an ongoing basis.

Toronto Shelter Standards
This accessible document contains external hyperlinks, but is otherwise a static document and ideal for printing or for screen reader software.

Toronto Shelter Standards (Functional PDF)
This document is also accessible, but contains several features to help you better utilize and navigate the Shelter Standards:

  • At the bottom of each page you will find a “back” button to take you to the page you were previously viewing.
  • External hyperlinks are underlined and will take you to an external web page.
  • Internal links are highlighted in blue and will take you to related content within the Shelter Standards document, such as a defined term or cross reference.

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Quick Reference: Summary of Policies, Procedures and Plans Requirements

Quick Reference: Shelter Standards Questions and Answers

Policy and Procedure Template for Shelter Providers

Poster: How to Make a Complaint
This poster was created as tabloid-sized, but can be printed on letter-sized paper by changing your print setting.

Reference Card: How to Make a Complaint
This template was created to allow you to print 6 business card-sized reference cards (double-sided) to distribute to clients.

Poster: Client Rights and Responsibilities/Staff Code of Conduct
This poster was created as tabloid-sized, but can be printed on letter-sized paper by changing your print setting.

Additional resources for emergency shelter providers

In December 2013 City Council approved the Housing Stability Services Planning Framework which will help shape the transformation of Toronto’s homelessness services into an integrated, client-centered and outcome-focused service system. One of the key actions under this framework is to review and update the Toronto Shelter Standards.

What are the Toronto Shelter Standards?

The delivery of emergency shelter services in Ontario is discretionary. In the absence of provincial standards governing the delivery of shelter services, the City of Toronto first developed Shelter Standards in 1992 to provide City-funded shelter providers and shelter clients with a clear set of expectations and guidelines.

How were the Standards updated?

The City of Toronto convened ten external work groups, each tasked with reviewing the Shelter Standards through a particular lens (e.g., health and safety, case management and housing, etc.) and submitting proposals to update the standards. Work group members represented City divisions, shelter providers, other homeless service providers, health care providers and other interested organizations.

In addition, the City conducted ten focus groups with niche shelter providers (e.g., family shelters, youth shelters, etc.) and specific shelter client groups (e.g. LGBTQ2S youth, seniors, aboriginals, etc.) to seek their input. All proposals were reviewed and considered by the City and informed the revisions to the draft Toronto Shelter Standards.

The City conducted a four-week consultation on the draft Toronto Shelter Standards ending on June 2, 2015 and reviewed all public comments and feedback received during that time. The final version of the Toronto Shelter Standards was approved by City Council.