Ontario is lending a helping hand to the City of Toronto to improve access to health services for the homeless.
Mayor John Tory and Minister of Health Eric Hoskins announced the collaborative effort at a press conference on Tuesday, saying the new initiative is aimed at improving access to primary care, mental health supports and other essential health services for shelter users.
City staff are working together with shelter operators, healthcare providers and the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network to create and execute the shelter health services pilot project over the coming months. The joint efforts will begin in five new shelters across the city that provide more than 300 beds to vulnerable people.
In addition they announced the creation of a new advisory committee that includes shelter operators, shelter users and health service providers which will provide ongoing feedback and advice on how access to healthcare can be improved for those in shelters.
The province is also funding 244 new permanent supportive housing units in the city for those living with mental illness and addictions and people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This is in addition to the conversion of the former York Detention Centre into a temporary shelter.
At one point during Tuesday’s news conference, Hoskins sprang into action when a member of the audience collapsed at a news conference where he was announcing plans for providing health care to people in Toronto homeless shelters.
Hoskins, who is a doctor, tended to the man who was taken to a hospital. A ministry spokeswoman says the man is doing better.
Ontario has set a goal to end chronic homelessness by 2025.
With files from The Canadian Press