Toronto will track all homeless deaths starting Jan. 1

December 23, 2016
Article Source
Toronto Star

In a change that anti-poverty activists are calling "long overdue," Toronto Public Health will work with about 200 community agencies to confirm the deaths of homeless people that occur across the city.

Beginning Jan. 1, the initiative will expand reporting to include homeless deaths outside of Toronto's shelter system. Currently, the city records only shelter-related deaths — people who die in city-administered shelters or shortly after leaving one. There have been 247 such deaths since 2007.

Bolstering the efforts of Toronto Public Health and participating agencies, the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario says it will confirm the death of a homeless person if it is aware of that detail, although a notification process has not been finalized.

The start date for the project comes 10 months after a Star investigation found the province and most Ontario municipalities do not track homeless deaths fully, or at all.

In April, prompted by the Star's findings, city council passed a motion directing staff to collect all data related to homeless deaths and for this information to be shared with public agencies and the provincial government.

"I am happy to finally see progress being made on this initiative," said Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie, who tabled the motion at Toronto council. "It has been too long coming into existence.

"The expanded monitoring system will provide information everyone can use to raise awareness of these tragic deaths and respond with appropriate strategies."

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