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

  • Ex-USA Gymnastics doctor charged with sexual assault

    World News CTV News
    LANSING, Mich. - A Michigan sports doctor who treated elite female U.S. gymnasts was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting nine girls, including some too reluctant to speak up about the alleged abuse years ago because he was considered a "god. Source
  • Blast at Pakistan shopping centre leaves at least 8 dead

    World News CBC News
    A bomb blast in an upscale shopping centre in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore killed at least eight people and wounded 20 on Thursday, officials said, the latest in a surge of violence that has shaken the country. Source
  • B.C. Liberal budget puts squeeze on NDP's promises, experts say

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA - The Liberal government's new budget tries to put the squeeze on British Columbia's Opposition New Democrats, just weeks before the start of a spring election campaign, say political experts. The campaign-style budget delivers several blows to the NDP by erasing much of the available surplus, cutting medical service premiums in half and increasing spending on health, education and children's issues, said Hamish Telford, a political science professor at the University of the Fraser…
  • P.E.I. politicians look to end debate over where Confederation began

    Canada News CTV News
    FREDERICTON - Two of Canada's friendliest provinces are in a polite tug of war over which can claim bragging rights as the catalyst of Confederation. Two Prince Edward Island federal politicians - MP Wayne Easter and Senator Diane Griffin - have each introduced bills intended to have Charlottetown recognized as the birthplace of Confederation. Source
  • Quebecer accused in massive Aussie drug bust to remain in custody until trial

    World News CBC News
    A Quebec woman accused of trying to import a large amount of cocaine into Australia last year will remain in custody until her trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 28. A lawyer for Mélina Roberge of Granby, Que. Source
  • Quebec woman accused of smuggling drugs in Australia abandons bail bid

    Canada News CTV News
    SYDNEY, Australia - One of three Quebecers accused of trying to import a large amount of cocaine into Australia last year will remain in custody until her trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 28. Source
  • UN hosts new round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva

    World News CTV News
    GENEVA -- Yet another sequel to chronically-fruitless Syria peace talks, or an entirely new script? After months of Syria bloodshed, stalled humanitarian aid deliveries and stop-and-start diplomacy, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura is reconvening talks between government and opposition delegations on Thursday, in the latest bid to end the country's catastrophic six-year war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more. Source
  • Minor quake hits off B.C. an hour after one in Washington State

    Canada News CTV News
    PORT HARDY, B.C. - A magnitude 4.4 earthquake rumbled off the coast of British Columbia late Wednesday night. Natural Resources Canada says it struck southwest of Port Alice on northern Vancouver island at a depth of about 10 kilometres. Source
  • Immigrants in U.S. changing routines amid rising fears of deportation

    World News CTV News
    In Orange County, California, dozens of immigrant parents have signed legal documents authorizing friends and relatives to pick up their children from school and access their bank accounts to pay their bills in the event they are arrested by immigration agents. Source
  • Magnitude 4.4 earthquake hits on northern Vancouver Island

    Canada News CBC News
    A magnitude 4.4 earthquake rumbled off the coast of British Columbia late Wednesday night. Natural Resources Canada says it struck southwest of Port Alice on Vancouver Island at a depth of about 10 kilometres. The federal agency says there are no reports of damage and none are expected. Source