Nearly 100 homeless people died in Toronto in 2017

Close to 100 homeless people died in the city in 2017, according to newly released data from Toronto Public Health (TPH).

Of the 94 homeless deaths recorded, 68 were males, 25 females and 1 transgender

A homeless man lies sleeping on the sidewalk of King Street in downtown Toronto during an extreme cold alert on January 8, 2017. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Close to 100 homeless people died in Toronto in 2017, according to newly released data from Toronto Public Health (TPH).

A total of 94 homeless deaths were recorded, with males accounting for the highest number for the year at 68. The total includes 25 females and one transgender person.

Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe believes those numbers are low and worries accurate data is not being captured.

"I think the case in point is that right now, this winter, we've witnessed 750, possibly higher numbers of people who've been coming into the emergency winter respite sites that got opened this winter because of public outcry. So that shows you that all of those people, in the past, were outside," she told CBC Toronto.

Crowe is adamant that the city has not been doing a good enough job of providing shelter for the homeless, especially during winter. And she says urgent steps are needed.

"One of the immediate measures is to ensure that we are providing safe emergency shelters for people because that allows people to come in and not be in the elements, but also to access health support and other social support," she said.

Other needed measures, says Crowe, are more street outreach programs, working more intensively with people that are outside; and creating transitional kinds of shelters that are more culturally appropriate for men, women and transgender people.

Cathy Crowe is a street nurse and advocate for the homeless. (Laura DaSilva/CBC)

According to the TPH data, 23 homeless people died from drug overdose.

Sixty of the 94 homeless people died indoors, eight deaths were recorded outdoors, while the place of death for the remaining 26 was listed as unknown.

Crowe contends that the full data is not being shared in a timely manner and says that makes it difficult to act.

"We're not really being told and we won't be told until April; and I don't even know if then we'll be told the causes of death, the location of death, the gender and things like that so that we can make really pointed recommendations," she said.

TPH says it tracks the deaths of people experiencing homelessness in order to get a better estimate of the number of deaths and to identify year to year, seasonal, geographic and other trends.

It says data is collected for people who are experiencing homelessness and die while living at shelters, on the street, or at other locations in Toronto, adding that this will provide solid evidence on which to base efforts to improve the health of this vulnerable population.