Toronto reports 110 deaths in shelter system in 2022

Toronto’s Good Shepherd Ministries, a shelter for the unhoused. (Photo courtesy: Google Maps)

Last year, 110 people died in Toronto’s shelter system, the second-highest number on record. 

The city released the concerning data on Friday, sharing the average age of residents who died was 51 years old.

Of the fatalities, 81 were men and 29 were women. None of the deceased identified as transgender or non-binary.

The highest recorded fatalities was in 2021, with 132 unhoused people dying in the Toronto shelter system.

The data shows these deaths occurred in city-run shelters, but does not share any other information on the deaths including names, ages or causes of death, or the locations of the shelters.

The city also tracks the number of overall deaths of unhoused people in Toronto, including in shelters and on the streets.

The city says when residents die in  Toronto shelters, operators must notify the city within 24 hours and submit a written report within 30 days.

Executive Director for the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness, Kira Heineck, says while the numbers are upsetting, they aren’t surprising. 

“It’s always a bit shocking to see the numbers but I guess it’s tempered by the fact that I’m not surprised,” she told Now Toronto on Monday. 

“Which is also a sort of terrible statement about what we’re facing right now. We know that homelessness increases mortality to a great extent. People experiencing homelessness die younger than the average population, so it’s not a surprise. It’s terrible,” she added. 

She notes it’s not only the city people should be looking to for accountability, but also the province.

“The funders, which are largely the province, are underfunding us to a great extent. Forty-eight  million is what we’re waiting for right now, and that’s just to keep supports going in the new units that were built over the last couple of years,” Heineck said. 

She added that the everyday person can also help the unhoused.

“Call your councillor and tell them that they need to support more money for shelter and housing in the city and stop being a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) if you happen to be in a neighbourhood where they are trying to equip the city, and community agencies are trying to build more housing for unhoused people,” she said.

“Raise your voice on the issue and tell your councillor they need to prioritize more housing, and services for people experiencing homelessness, and to be more welcoming when those housing developments show up in your neighborhood.”

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