Federally-run homeless count facing data gaps as big cities opt out

OTTAWA - Some of Canada's biggest cities have chosen to opt out of a federally run count of homeless people, resulting in what some experts predict will be an incomplete picture of the national poverty problem.

See Full Article

The decision by places like Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, among others, to not join in the federal initiative could make it more difficult for the federal Liberals to create a promised anti-poverty strategy.

The government was negotiating an agreement with Quebec to have cities in that province take part in the count, but for now the national effort won't reach into Quebec.

Many cities have never done a 24-hour homeless survey, known as a point-in-time count, which is why the federal government decided last year to try and co-ordinate a national census of those using shelters and living on the street.

Those cities that do a count use different methodologies, making it sometimes difficult to compare results on a national scale.

The previous Conservative government was warned seven months ago about potential shortcomings in data from the point-in-time count after a meeting with 49 municipalities when the details of the initiative were first unveiled. During that meeting, cities initially voiced concerns about the plan to do the count in late January - a time frame the government expanded to run now until the end of April.

A May 2015 briefing note from Conservative MP Candice Bergen, who was minister of state for social development at the time, says the decision by some cities to do their own count would "limit the ability to generate meaningful results" from the national survey.

Getting 30 communities on board with the count will at least give some like York Region, which has never done a point-in-time count before, a baseline to work from and track progress over time, said Pedro Barata, vice-president of communications and public affairs with the United Way of Toronto and York Region.

As long as the questions and methodology aren't wildly different, there may be ways to compare results on a national scale, Barata said.

The point-in-time count is only a snapshot in time of those in shelters and those living on the street and won't capture anyone who has found temporary lodging, for example, or those who spend half their income or more on housing.

Darlene O'Leary, socioeconomic policy analyst with Citizens for Public Justice, said missing some of the country's biggest cities will mean the federal government isn't getting a full picture.

Toronto won't be taking part in the count because it is planning a locally organized count next year. The head of the Alberta agency that oversees counts in seven cities in that province told the CBC they opted out of the federal count over concerns about the quality of data.

Metro Vancouver, which includes 21 communities, will do its next detailed point-in-time count in 2017. The City of Vancouver is doing a smaller count this year in March, which is why it originally decided against joining the federal count, said Celine Malboules, senior planner in the city's housing policy and projects department.

"For us, it's about comparative data. So over the years if we all of a sudden switch the date to January that's going to have an impact," she said.

Malboules said city officials are going to see if they can piggyback on the federally run project and "feed into the national results."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'I cannot promise we will never make another mistake': Quebec cardinal on sex abuse summit

    Canada News CTV News
    Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet says Pope Francis' historic summit on preventing sex abuse in the clergy is a good first step but says "I cannot promise we will never make another mistake." Ouellet told CTV News' Paul Workman that the Vatican is taking the allegations of sex abuse seriously, citing the historic summit as the first step in reconciliation. Source
  • Polish activists pull down statue of priest in abuse protest

    World News CTV News
    WARSAW, Poland -- Activists in Poland pulled down a statue of a priest early Thursday after increasing allegations that he sexually abused minors, a stunt they said was to protest the failure of the Polish Catholic Church in resolving the problem of clergy sex abuse. Source
  • Catalan secessionists block highways, train tracks in strike

    World News CTV News
    BARCELONA, Spain -- Strikers backing Catalonia's secession from Spain blocked major highways, train tracks and roads across the northeastern region on Thursday to protest the trial of a dozen separatist leaders. The general strike was organized by small unions of pro-independence workers and students. Source
  • Louisiana woman charged in shooting of her pet llama, Earl

    World News CTV News
    OPELOUSAS, La. -- A Louisiana woman is accused of shooting her pet llama named Earl who she says attacked her. News outlets report 67-year-old Madeline Bourgeois told St. Landry Parish Sheriff's deputies that Earl had attacked her last week while she was working in her pasture. Source
  • More than 150 IS militants handed over to Iraq from Syria

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Iraq, the first batch of several to come, an Iraqi security official said Thursday. Source
  • Students abused at Catholic school for deaf boys in Verona seek closure at Pope's summit

    World News CBC News
    Alessandro Vantini uses crude gestures to illustrate the way three priests abused him throughout his entire childhood at a school for deaf boys in the northern Italian city of Verona. He said one clergyman regularly hit him with a stick and sodomized him. Source
  • Ottawa could face four class-action lawsuits over $165M error at Veterans Affairs

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government now faces four proposed class-action lawsuits over a $165 million accounting error at Veterans Affairs that shortchanged more than 250,000 former soldiers, sailors and aircrew, CBC News has learned. The latest claim was filed this week by the Ottawa law firm headed by retired colonel Michel Drapeau. Source
  • First post-SNC-Lavalin polls look bad for Trudeau Liberals

    Canada News CBC News
    The fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair is only beginning to rain down on Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government but it seems to be having an impact — one that could put the Liberals on track to defeat in this fall's federal election. Source
  • Pope opens sex abuse summit amid outcry from survivors

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has opened a high-level summit of church leaders on preventing clergy sex abuse, hoping to impress on bishops from around the world that the problem is global and requires a global response. Source
  • Vatican's legal procedures for handling sex abuse, explained

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- For centuries, the Vatican's canon law system busied itself with banning books and dispensing punishments that included burnings at the stake for heretics. These days, the Vatican office that eventually replaced the Roman Catholic Inquisition is knee-deep in processing clergy sex abuse cases. Source