SPIDER launched the Open Dialogue on Vulnerability monthly workshop series. The free half-day workshops aim to:

  • increase awareness about situations impacting vulnerable Torontonians and the programs and services available
  • build networks across the service system to create opportunities for operation and system level innovation

To date, the Open Dialogue on Vulnerability series has engaged over 4,000 participants including residents, City staff, City Councillors, and service providers in the health and community service sectors from within Toronto and beyond.

Date Topic Description Attendance
June 16, 2015 Hoarding Responses in Toronto


This session was geared towards those who would like to learn more about what Hoarding is, what the current municipal and community responses are and what we need to think about as a city to enhance our supports services.  


September 18, 2015 Information Sharing and Privacy for Collaborative Risk Driven Approaches


This session, presented by FOCUS Rexdale and SPIDER aimed to increase the knowledge of service providers about information sharing, privacy legislation, and effective practices to support risk mitigation.  It included a Q&A period and discussed permissiveness and prohibitions within the legislative frameworks (e.g. PHIPA, MFIPPA, etc.) that guide front line service providers.


October 16, 2015 Exploring Legal Capacity and Consent


This session aimed to increase the knowledge of service providers about capacity assessments and processes, governing legislation, and opportunities for reform.  It included a Q&A period for discussion of practical strategies for “trouble-shooting” when deal with situations of complex or unresolved risk.


November 20, 2015


The Mental Health Act:  Challenges and Opportunities in the Provision of Care to Vulnerable Torontonians


This session aimed to increase knowledge about the Mental Health Act and its applications, as well as to explore services and opportunities for innovation.  It l included a facilitated discussion regarding the challenges faced in co-ordinating community and hospital care when dealing with complex or unresolved situations of risk.


December 18, 2015 Winter Preparedness:  Reducing Vulnerabilities through Social Safety Networks


Timed to coincide the second anniversary or the 2013 Ice Storm, this session explored lessons learned and steps being taken to improve responses.  It was geared to those who wanting to learn more about emergency preparedness, including community engagement and the development of social safety networks to support Toronto’s most vulnerable. 81
2015 Total Open Dialogue on Vulnerability Attendance 668
Date Topic Description Attendance
February 19, 2016 Youth Mental Health:  Making the Connection In the spring of 2014, TYES embarked on a pilot project that took a peer support approach to addressing trauma in the Rexdale and Jane & Finch areas.  Of the 74 youth who participated in the workshop series, many reported having experienced a traumatic event that continues to affect their resiliency and increase their vulnerability to involvement in violence and crime.  This event explored innovations, gaps and next steps for service provision to vulnerable youth experiencing mental health challenges. 270
April 15, 2016 Continuing the Exploration of Hoarding This event continued the conversation about hoarding, with an emphasis on safety, tenancy and legislation.  Participants had the opportunity to connect with fire safety, municipal bylaw, and legal experts, as well as experienced landlords and community service providers, working to support individuals with lived experience hoarding. 225
May 20, 2016 Continuing the Exploration of Hoarding – Part 2 This event emphasized the creation of solutions and implementation of supports for individuals with lived experience hoarding.  Participants gained an understanding of the terminology related to “clutter”, assessment tools, strategies for supporting the decluttering process, and harm reduction approaches employed by housing providers to support tenants. 230
September 16, 2016 Identity “We Are” A discussion about youth and identity.  Everyone struggles with the question, “Who am I?”  For those concerned with how others perceive them, or who feel a core aspect of themselves, such as gender or race, is not being expressed or valued, the struggle is very real.  Hear about service providers and youth as they discuss engaging young people where they are, no matter their identity. 109
October 21, 2016 The Value of Lived Experience: The Power of Peers to Impact Systems This Open Dialogue featured discussion with Peers and Community Organizations that champion peer models:  how to create meaningful leadership opportunities, how to avoid tokenism and exploitation of vulnerable people, and how to leverage lived experience to attain system change. 110
November 18, 2016 Human Trafficking This Open Dialogue featured discussion with City of Toronto divisions and community partners regarding human trafficking.  It explored the complexities of this issue, including barriers to exiting, legal challenges, as well as collaborative solutions to help support survivors of human trafficking. 168
2016 Total Open Dialogue on Vulnerability Attendance 1,112
Date Topic Description Attendance
January 20,  2017 Home Unit Takeovers This Open Dialogue featured:

  • Discussion with community partners regarding the Home / Unit Takeover phenomenon.
  •  Exploration of how a vulnerable resident finds themselves in unsafe living situations due to exploitation·
  • The physical,  mental, emotional and financial harm a home unit takeover can cause
February 17, 2017 Family & Community Supports for Those Impacted by Homicide This Open Dialogue provided:

  • Opportunity to explore what a Community Crisis Response looks like
  • The supports services that are available following a homicide.
  • Created a dialogue with those that directly mobilize support services for families of victims and communities within the City of Toronto.
March 17, 2017 Complex Care Coordination This Open Dialogue discussed:

  • Trauma-informed and anti-oppressive approach to care provision
  • Broad, systemic approaches to inter-sectoral care planning when there is acute elevated risk
  • Ensuring linkage between medical and social services support to prevent situations of elevated risk
  • Practical considerations for developing and implementing collaborative care plans that meet the needs of clients who engage in behaviours that at one end of the spectrum, prevent their healing, and at the other end, put themselves or others at risk
April 21, 2017 Preventing and Responding to Drug Overdoses This Open Dialogue explored:

  • Anti-oppressive approaches to care provision
  • Suggestions regarding addressing stigma
  • Strategies for successful outreach
  • Risk factors for overdose
  • Agency preparedness
May 19, 2017 Community Perspectives on Suicide Prevention This Open Dialogue featured discussion about:

  • Policy recommendations, barriers to accessing support, and available resources for both service providers and impacted community members related to suicide.
June 19, 2017 Community Mobilization to Prevent Human Trafficking This Open Dialogue explored:

  • The power of partnerships to prevent human trafficking and protect children and youth from exploitation.
July 27, 2017 TRANSforming Service Provision: The Inclusion of Trans People & Diverse Gender Expression This Open Dialogue explored:

  • Gender, gender roles and a full range of gender identity issues.
  • Various transitioning pathways that highlight the interplay of trans identity with other identities (race, ethnicity, religion, family status, region of origin, etc.).


September 13, 2017 Mental Health Service Delivery and the Criminal Justice System
  • This Open Dialogue explored the crossover between mental health and criminal justice systems.  It discussed:
  • How we currently address the prevention, diversion, and treatment/rehabilitation needs of persons involved with the justice system.
  • What service providers across the spectrum of mental health and justice services can do to better serve some of Toronto’s most vulnerable.
October 20, 2017 Trauma Informed Practice Trauma Informed Practices


November 17, 2017 The Use of Canada Census Data in Developing Supports for Vulnerable Populations 125
2017 Total Open Dialogue on Vulnerability Attendance 1,966
Date Topic Description Attendance
January 19,  2018 Pest Management Innovation This Open Dialogue featured:·

  • Bed bug or cockroach infestation is more than a pest management issue.  It’s a symptom of vulnerability for many people.
  • This session explores ways to help those most vulnerable get the support needed when faced with this challenge.
February 16, 2018 Understanding Countering Violent Extremism This Open Dialogue provided:

  • Early prevention of violent radicalization (the adoption of extremist belief systems that advocate violence) requires community effort and support services:
  • Learn more from academic, policing and community perspectives
  • Find out what proactive and holistic supports are available
March 17, 2018 Complex Care Coordination This Open Dialogue discussed:

  • Mental health, dual diagnosis and ethics to support those experiencing difficulty with making decisions.
April 20, 2018 The Role of Oversight Bodies in Reducing Vulnerabilities This Open Dialogue explored:

  • Toronto Ombudsman
  • Office of the Independent Police Review Director
  • TCHC Housing Equity Commissioner
  • Office of the Child Advocate
2018 Total Open Dialogue on Vulnerability Attendance as of March 2018 452
Total Open Dialogue Engagement 2015 – 2018 as of March 2018 4,268