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

  • Trump signals Mexico wall funding may wait several months for more pressing concerns

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump indicated an openness on Monday to delaying his push to secure funds for his promised border wall with Mexico, potentially eliminating a sticking point as lawmakers worked to avoid a looming shutdown of the federal government. Source
  • Converting coal would help China's smog at climate's expense

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- China's conversion of coal into natural gas could prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths each year. But there's a catch: As the country shifts its use of vast coal reserves to send less smog-inducing chemicals into the air, the move threatens to undermine efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said Tuesday. Source
  • Hollywood's writers vote overwhelmingly to authorize strike next week

    World News CBC News
    More than 96% of the voting members of the Writers Guild of America have authorized a strike against production companies. The WGA released the results Monday, a day ahead of the resumption of contract negotiations on a master contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Source
  • Ivanka Trump heads to Berlin for women's conference

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Ivanka Trump's advocacy for women and girls will take her to a conference in Berlin Tuesday, an attention-getting first international outing aimed at building support for investment in women's economic empowerment programs. Back home, the first daughter's plan to push for policies that benefit working mothers is getting less of the spotlight. Source
  • Aviation officer says man dragged off United flight was 'flailing and fighting'

    World News Toronto Sun
    CHICAGO — The physician who was dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago this month was verbally and physically abusive, and flailing his arms before he lost his balance and struck his mouth on an armrest, according to the aviation officer who pulled the man out of his seat. Source
  • North Korea quiet amid talk of missile follow-up

    World News CTV News
    PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of - A U.S. guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday and envoys from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo, as North Korea prepared to mark the anniversary of the founding of its military. Source
  • Bill O’Reilly speaks out about Fox firing, says 'the truth will come out'

    World News Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — Five days after being fired from his top-rated Fox News Channel perch, Bill O’Reilly used a podcast to express his dismay and vowed that “the truth will come out.” “I am sad that I’m not on television anymore,” he said in an episode Monday of his personal website’s “No Spin News” podcast, available only to subscribers after this week’s free window. Source
  • U.S. judge lifts stay that blocked second Arkansas execution

    World News Toronto Sun
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Two condemned Arkansas killers who admit they’re guilty but fear their poor health could lead to extreme pain during lethal injections set for Monday might become the first inmates put to death in a double execution in the U.S. Source
  • Trudeau says his dad got his brother help in dealing with pot charge

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his younger brother, Michel, was able to avoid a criminal record after he was caught with marijuana because of his father’s connections. Trudeau revealed the little-known fact about his brother, who died in a B.C. Source
  • New Orleans takes down white supremacist monument

    World News CTV News
    NEW ORLEANS -- A monument to a deadly white-supremacist uprising in 1874 was removed under cover of darkness by workers in masks and bulletproof vests Monday as New Orleans joined the movement to take down symbols of the Confederacy and the Jim Crow South. Source