City Ombudsman Looking into Toronto’s Cold-Weather Services for the Homeless
The City of Toronto Ombudsman has begun an Enquiry into the recent confusion over the winter programs offered to the city’s homeless.
“We are concerned about reports that some people were mistakenly told there wasn’t any space for them on December 30th,” says Susan Opler. “Ombudsman Toronto wants to ensure that these essential services for vulnerable people are being optimally delivered.”
Ombudsman Toronto has been monitoring the work of the City’s Shelter and Support Housing Administration Division (SSHA) since the Ombudsman’s report on Toronto’s Cold Weather Drop-In Services in May, 2017. That report made recommendations for improving services in the 2017-2018 season, and pledged to follow up on their implementation.
“Since this winter season began, we have been speaking with front-line workers and advocates as well as with City staff” says Opler. “We want to ensure that SSHA implements our recommendations to improve communications and intake. We have been receiving regular updates, including nightly occupancy numbers.”
SSHA recently informed the Ombudsman that it has begun its own review of its communications and protocols for providing winter services to the homeless, and has promised to work with the Ombudsman on these issues.
“In the meantime,” says Susan Opler, “our Enquiry will focus on the cold-weather needs of the City’s homeless, and whether the City is providing services in a way that ensures people’s dignity, safety and comfort.”
The May 2017 Ombudsman Toronto report, Enquiry Report: Cold Weather Drop-In Services, City of Toronto, 2016-17 Winter Season and an office backgrounder are available at ombudsmantoronto.ca and on request.
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Ombudsman Toronto listens to and investigates people’s complaints and concerns about City administration and the fairness of City services. We are a free and impartial office that operates independently from the City, holding it accountable to the people it serves.