Tackling Toronto’s Homelessness Crisis

On any given night, over 5,000 people are homeless in Toronto and St. Michael’s is pioneering research, clinical care, community programs and education to bring that number to zero. 

On Oct. 2, St. Mike’s hosted researchers, community leaders and committed Torontonians to find solutions to end Toronto’s homelessness crisis. The event opened with keynote speaker Dr. Mitchell Katz, renowned public health innovator and CEO of NYC Hospitals + Health. His advice to Toronto: the solution is not building more shelters, but more housing. A home is the best way to improve individual health and reduce the number of marginalized people who are pushed into crisis and into the health-care system. 

Joining the discussion was Dr. Stephen Hwang, Director of the Centre for Urban Health Solutions, an inter-disciplinary research centre at St. Michael’s Hospital. The Centre is the only hospital-based research organization in Canada focused on the health consequences of poverty. Established in 1998, the research and programming undertaken at the Centre has an immediate positive impact on the lives of people experiencing homelessness. And it is shaping policy at all levels of government to address the underlying structural causes of poverty and homelessness. 

Additional panelists included Mary-Anne Bedard, Director of Service Planning, Development & Infrastructure with the City of Toronto, Mark Aston, CEO of the Fred Victor Centre, and moderator, Anne-Marie Mediwake, Co-host of CTV’s Your Morning. The panel tackled complex issues impacting homelessness including lack of affordable housing, mental health and addiction issues, the opioid crisis, and racism and discrimination. 

The event was part of an annual lecture series to bring thought leaders on the topic of homelessness and mental health to St. Michael’s Hospital. The Louis L. Odette Lecture is sponsored by The Louis L. Odette Family Urban Angel Fund for Homeless People.