New program will allow Toronto to more accurately track homeless deaths

News Jan 10, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

According to City of Toronto numbers, there were 30 homeless deaths in 2016, though the city itself acknowledges that figure vastly understates the prevalence of such fatalities.

To help get a more accurate count of deaths and collect data that can be used to create a more comprehensive plan for combatting homelessness, Toronto has announced a new plan to track homeless deaths in Toronto.

The city will work with roughly 200 shelters, community outreach programs, hospitals and other service agencies to collect data, including the names, ages, possible cause of death and other key details about those who die on Toronto’s streets.

“When you can’t measure a problem, it makes it very difficult to address it,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto’s acting Medical Officer of Health at the Church of the Holy Trinity, on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Up until this year, Toronto has only collected data on homeless deaths of those living in city shelters. That leaves a large number of deaths unreported, with police and the coroner’s office not always conducting full investigations into other deaths or passing information on homeless deaths along to the city.

Calling homeless deaths a “very significant public health issue,” Yaffe noted the initiative “aims to address the limited data that’s been collected on individuals who died while homeless and were not living in city shelters.”

Street nurse Cathy Crowe, who has worked with Toronto’s homeless population for many years, said the new initiative is more than welcome, adding that the information will be eye-opening to many.

“The deaths we know of are traumatic and they’re violent and they’re never natural,” she said. “After all these years, we’re finally going to get hard data on these atrocities.”

Crowe is hopeful the data collected through the new initiative will spark action in bringing about positive change in affordable housing policies in Toronto.

“There was a time when homeless deaths did not happen so often, and when they did happen, we were outraged as a city and we would take action.”

Ward 43 Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough East) concurred, noting the city would take a hard look at the data. He noted the information collected would provide needed guidance in building up the proper support system for the city’s homeless.

“It’s the tool we need to begin influencing decision-making at all levels of government to bring purposeful policies and legislation together to help the homeless and sick who live here on the streets of Toronto,” he said.

Donna Oakes, who was homeless for more than a decade, saw many friends die as they struggled on Toronto’s streets. She said the new initiative was long overdue.

“It will help people realize just how much need there really is out there,” she said. “Instead of just saying ‘that’s so sad,’ people will actually step forward and put together a plan.”

Michael Mallard, who lost a friend who was living on the streets recently, concurred.

“It’s about time people knew the names of the ones who we lose,” he said.

New program will allow Toronto to more accurately track homeless deaths

City will work with outreach organizations to get hard data

News Jan 10, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

According to City of Toronto numbers, there were 30 homeless deaths in 2016, though the city itself acknowledges that figure vastly understates the prevalence of such fatalities.

To help get a more accurate count of deaths and collect data that can be used to create a more comprehensive plan for combatting homelessness, Toronto has announced a new plan to track homeless deaths in Toronto.

The city will work with roughly 200 shelters, community outreach programs, hospitals and other service agencies to collect data, including the names, ages, possible cause of death and other key details about those who die on Toronto’s streets.

“When you can’t measure a problem, it makes it very difficult to address it,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto’s acting Medical Officer of Health at the Church of the Holy Trinity, on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Up until this year, Toronto has only collected data on homeless deaths of those living in city shelters. That leaves a large number of deaths unreported, with police and the coroner’s office not always conducting full investigations into other deaths or passing information on homeless deaths along to the city.

Calling homeless deaths a “very significant public health issue,” Yaffe noted the initiative “aims to address the limited data that’s been collected on individuals who died while homeless and were not living in city shelters.”

Street nurse Cathy Crowe, who has worked with Toronto’s homeless population for many years, said the new initiative is more than welcome, adding that the information will be eye-opening to many.

“The deaths we know of are traumatic and they’re violent and they’re never natural,” she said. “After all these years, we’re finally going to get hard data on these atrocities.”

Crowe is hopeful the data collected through the new initiative will spark action in bringing about positive change in affordable housing policies in Toronto.

“There was a time when homeless deaths did not happen so often, and when they did happen, we were outraged as a city and we would take action.”

Ward 43 Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough East) concurred, noting the city would take a hard look at the data. He noted the information collected would provide needed guidance in building up the proper support system for the city’s homeless.

“It’s the tool we need to begin influencing decision-making at all levels of government to bring purposeful policies and legislation together to help the homeless and sick who live here on the streets of Toronto,” he said.

Donna Oakes, who was homeless for more than a decade, saw many friends die as they struggled on Toronto’s streets. She said the new initiative was long overdue.

“It will help people realize just how much need there really is out there,” she said. “Instead of just saying ‘that’s so sad,’ people will actually step forward and put together a plan.”

Michael Mallard, who lost a friend who was living on the streets recently, concurred.

“It’s about time people knew the names of the ones who we lose,” he said.

New program will allow Toronto to more accurately track homeless deaths

City will work with outreach organizations to get hard data

News Jan 10, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

According to City of Toronto numbers, there were 30 homeless deaths in 2016, though the city itself acknowledges that figure vastly understates the prevalence of such fatalities.

To help get a more accurate count of deaths and collect data that can be used to create a more comprehensive plan for combatting homelessness, Toronto has announced a new plan to track homeless deaths in Toronto.

The city will work with roughly 200 shelters, community outreach programs, hospitals and other service agencies to collect data, including the names, ages, possible cause of death and other key details about those who die on Toronto’s streets.

“When you can’t measure a problem, it makes it very difficult to address it,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto’s acting Medical Officer of Health at the Church of the Holy Trinity, on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Up until this year, Toronto has only collected data on homeless deaths of those living in city shelters. That leaves a large number of deaths unreported, with police and the coroner’s office not always conducting full investigations into other deaths or passing information on homeless deaths along to the city.

Calling homeless deaths a “very significant public health issue,” Yaffe noted the initiative “aims to address the limited data that’s been collected on individuals who died while homeless and were not living in city shelters.”

Street nurse Cathy Crowe, who has worked with Toronto’s homeless population for many years, said the new initiative is more than welcome, adding that the information will be eye-opening to many.

“The deaths we know of are traumatic and they’re violent and they’re never natural,” she said. “After all these years, we’re finally going to get hard data on these atrocities.”

Crowe is hopeful the data collected through the new initiative will spark action in bringing about positive change in affordable housing policies in Toronto.

“There was a time when homeless deaths did not happen so often, and when they did happen, we were outraged as a city and we would take action.”

Ward 43 Councillor Paul Ainslie (Scarborough East) concurred, noting the city would take a hard look at the data. He noted the information collected would provide needed guidance in building up the proper support system for the city’s homeless.

“It’s the tool we need to begin influencing decision-making at all levels of government to bring purposeful policies and legislation together to help the homeless and sick who live here on the streets of Toronto,” he said.

Donna Oakes, who was homeless for more than a decade, saw many friends die as they struggled on Toronto’s streets. She said the new initiative was long overdue.

“It will help people realize just how much need there really is out there,” she said. “Instead of just saying ‘that’s so sad,’ people will actually step forward and put together a plan.”

Michael Mallard, who lost a friend who was living on the streets recently, concurred.

“It’s about time people knew the names of the ones who we lose,” he said.