Homelessness is a known problem in Toronto and contributes to health inequities. In partnership with supporting agencies, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is tracking the deaths of people experiencing homelessness to get a better estimate of the number of deaths and their causes. Data are being collected for people who are experiencing homelessness and die while living at shelters, on the street or at other locations in Toronto. This will provide evidence on which to base efforts to improve the health of this vulnerable population.

The data can be found in a new interactive dashboard format by clicking on the link below.

 

Deaths of People Experiencing Homelessness Dashboard

Toronto Public Health (TPH) leads the data collection, analysis and reporting. Approximately 250 health and social service agencies that support people experiencing homelessness share data with TPH. The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario (OCCO) also verifies some of the data. The information will be used to gain a truer understanding of the number of deaths in the homeless community and potentially identify trends related to the population.

Information Collection

  • Information is collected via a secure, web-based form, available to participating agencies.
  • Information collected includes:
    • Name
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Date and place of death
    • Cause of death
    • Contact information for the individual reporting the death
    • Other information deemed as relevant by the reporting individual
  • The information collected may change based on future needs.
  • Individual-level data are treated as confidential and only reported in aggregate form.
  • TPH takes its responsibility for protecting personal health information very seriously. For further information on how TPH collects, uses, and discloses health information, please see the Information Practice Statement on our website.

Definition of Homelessness

This project characterizes “homelessness” as:

The situation of an individual or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. It is the result of systemic or societal barriers, a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household’s financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges and/or racism and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless, and the experience is generally negative, stressful and distressing (Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, 2012).

Thus someone who is temporarily staying with friends or family, or transitioning to new housing, but has experienced long periods without a permanent home, would be considered homeless.

Rationale for this Initiative

  • Homelessness is a known problem in Toronto and contributes to health inequities. Previously, death data for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto has been limited to those who had been living in City-funded shelters (see ”Shelter Deaths” below). As a result, the full scope of this problem has been unknown.
  • A Toronto City Council motion directed “appropriate City staff to collect all relevant data related to the deaths of homeless individuals within and outside of homeless shelters.”
  • Data collection for this initiative began January 1, 2017.
  • Through this initiative, data are being collected for people experiencing homelessness who die while living on the street, at a friend’s place, at a shelter or at other locations in Toronto. Ultimately, the initiative will provide better data on which to base efforts to improve the health of this vulnerable population.

Shelter Deaths

  • Recent stats for recorded deaths of people living in City-funded shelters are as follows:
    • 2018: 26 deaths
    • 2017: 35 deaths
    • 2016: 30 deaths
    • 2015: 45 deaths
    • 2014: 30 deaths
    • 2013: 16 deaths
    • Complete data are available via Deaths of Shelter Residents
  • These numbers represent deaths of residents at City-funded shelters and do not reflect the full extent of the issue.

Related Project and Homelessness Links

Related Action

If the death is newly discovered, please call 911 first.

For more information or to report a death of a person experiencing homelessness, please contact Caryn Thompson at 416-338-2087 or Caryn.Thompson@toronto.ca.

Cut-Off Dates for Reporting Deaths

When possible, reports received in a timely matter are most appreciated. All reports received by January 31, 2020 will be included in our next update.

Updates will be published every six months, typically in March and September.

Contact Information

Public or Partner Agency Contact

Caryn Thompson, Policy Development Officer
Surveillance and Epidemiology Unit/Performance and Standards Directorate
Caryn.Thompson@toronto.ca
416-392-1359

Contact for Members of Toronto City Council or other government agencies

Sarah Collier, Acting Manager
Surveillance and Epidemiology Unit/Performance and Standards Directorate
Sarah.Collier@toronto.ca
416-392-1359

Media Contact

TPH Media relations
tphmedia@toronto.ca

In an Emergency

Always call 911 for emergencies