Deaths among unhoused people in Toronto still trending high since pandemic with drug toxicity crisis to blame

The variety of folks experiencing homelessness dying in Toronto continues to be a lot greater than what was seen previous to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Toronto Public Well being (TPH) knowledge launched on Sept. 28 discovered that 79 unhoused people handed away on this metropolis within the first six months of 2023 – a median of three folks per week. The median age of those that died, which incorporates folks staying throughout the shelter system and out of doors of it, was 52 for males and 48 for females.

Within the first half of 2022, town noticed 92 deaths amongst unhoused folks throughout the identical timeframe. A complete of 191 folks experiencing homelessness died in Toronto that yr, with the median age of demise at 55 for males and 42 for females.

Wanting again to 2019, the yr previous to the pandemic, in whole, 128 folks experiencing homelessness died within the metropolis.

The knowledge is verified in collaboration with the Workplace of the Chief Coroner of Ontario.


One other ongoing pattern is how Toronto’s unhoused persons are dying, with drug toxicity persevering with to be the highest reason behind demise.

This knowledge, which is up to date twice a yr to the Metropolis of Toronto’s interactive dashboard, indicated that 46 per cent of the reported deaths amongst folks experiencing homelessness from January to June 2023 had been drug-related.

Because the metropolis began gathering this type of knowledge in 2017, 48 per cent of Toronto’s 961 homeless deaths have been discovered to be brought on by drug toxicity.

“A big portion of drug toxicity deaths stem from the poisonous, unregulated drug provide. The usage of extremely potent opioids mixed with surprising substances are considerably rising the danger of overdose in Toronto,” town stated in a Sept. 28 information launch.

“These deaths are an instance of the unfavorable well being impacts of the continued drug toxicity disaster.”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of well being, pointed to “notable will increase” within the variety of unhoused folks dying within the metropolis through the pandemic.

“(In 2020, 2021, and 2022,) 145 deaths, 223 deaths, and 191 deaths had been reported respectively,” she stated.

“Within the setting of an unregulated drug provide that’s extra poisonous, extra contaminated and fewer predictable, Toronto Public Well being, our Metropolis, authorities and neighborhood companions are challenged to safe new and continued funding for hurt discount companies and helps and extra reasonably priced housing choices for folks throughout town. These are two key elements of lowering the unfavorable well being impacts of homelessness.”



The Metropolis of Toronto stated that it’s working with neighborhood companions to “construct on ongoing work to handle the general public well being situation of homelessness, by bettering entry to hurt discount packages and companies and reasonably priced housing.”

A few of the steps being taken embrace implementing an overdose motion plan, strengthening its response to the drug toxicity disaster within the shelter system, supporting efforts to increase safer provide choices, and “growing a complete, city-wide technique to handle the psychological well being and substance use points throughout the metropolis.”

A partnership has just lately been established between TPH, Unity Well being Toronto, and College Well being Community to increase public well being’s long-standing hurt discount program.

The town famous that it is usually working with Interior Metropolis Well being Associates and Loft Group Companies to offer built-in bodily and psychological well being companies in addition to collaborating with Ontario Well being Toronto Area and different group to determine a “constant method to well being companies in all shelters, in addition to to map hurt discount, psychological well being and first care assets to shelter places to establish useful resource wants and gaps.”

One other necessary a part of this ongoing effort is the HousingTO 2020-2030 Motion Plan, which has an approval goal of 47,500 new reasonably priced rental properties by 2030.

“The Metropolis is dedicated to bettering the well being outcomes of people experiencing homelessness, however provincial and federal authorities help is required. Extra long-term investments will assist tackle the dimensions of want for deeply reasonably priced housing, in addition to entry to psychological well being, hurt discount, and remedy assets,” it stated in a launch.

“Power homelessness continues to be a public well being situation in Toronto, with hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness on any given evening,” Toronto Centre Coun. Chris Moise, the chair of the Board of Well being, stated in a launch.

“We all know that higher data helps us establish the scope of this situation and gives stable proof to base efforts on bettering the well being and wellbeing of individuals experiencing homelessness. It additionally underscores the significance of housing as a social determinant of well being that influences well being outcomes throughout the lifespan.”