Police and fire officials said three homeless Edmontans died in another city camp in the first two weeks of November.
But outreach workers believe the numbers may be higher because there is no official government agency publicly tracking how and why the state’s homeless die.
Jim Garnett of the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness said the death was heartbreaking and outrageous.
“It’s beyond tragedy because it’s so preventable,” he said.
Three deaths in November were confirmed only by police and fire officials.
In the first case, a victim was found dead in a tent on fire near 106th Avenue and 95th Street on November 3, city police and the Edmonton Fire and Rescue Service (EFRS) said.
Five days later, on November 8, Alberta Health Services responded to a man who died in a tent, but spokespeople were unable to provide a location.
Then, on November 9, Edmonton police witnessed the sudden death at a camp near 106th Avenue and 95th Street. City councilors were later informed that the shelter had reached 98% capacity that day when temperatures dropped to -26°C overnight.
Edmonton Police and EFRS also responded to the Oct. 12 death after a tent caught fire near 157th Avenue and 95th Street.
In an attempt to confirm homeless deaths, Postmedia contacted the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) to determine whether a coroner was present in each case.
But Justice Department spokesman Ethan Lecavalier-Kidney could only describe the homeless death as a tragedy.
“Our thoughts are with those who may be struggling to find a home or shelter during the cold winter months,” he said.
In a follow-up email, Lecavalier-Kidney said, “Privacy laws dictate that OCME may, is, or is not investigating information such as the cause of death or cause of death in a particular case. You may not share it with anyone except if you were with a close family member and, in certain circumstances, third parties such as the police or hospital.”
Meanwhile, Gurnett said ECOHH is doing its best to track such deaths, collecting names from organizations that identify individuals who are believed to have died due to a prolonged lack of suitable housing. says. Garnett said the group cross-checks the names of people and other organizations to eliminate duplication.
“In the end, we think it’s a minimal list of people who probably would still be alive without the impact of homelessness,” he said.
Garnett said a variety of conditions could be listed on death certificates when people died, including diabetes, exposure, and untreated infections. of people killed.
“It’s a side effect of that that they die in some way,” said Garnett. “We believe that most of the people we identify each year whose homelessness is dying as a major problem in their lives would have lived longer if they had proper housing. That is the bottom line.”
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Elliot Tanti, spokesman for Boyle Street Community Services, said it hits a gap between city and state health officials when someone dies on the street. is not a priority.
He likens it to the information available about the COVID-19 pandemic, including deaths, that has helped make public health decisions.
“How can we make good public health decisions if we can’t even have an accurate death toll at this point?” he said.
By officially tracking fatalities, Boyle Street can adjust services during bad weather, create new programs to help people, and show what works.
“This is very important information for an organization like ours looking for solutions to chronic homelessness,” Tanti said.
Toronto, in partnership with Toronto Public Health, began publicly tracking homeless deaths in and out of shelters in 2017. Tanti said that if other jurisdictions can do it, Edmonton has an “obligation” to do it too.
“Our state health officials and the City of Edmonton need to come together as a thinking sector on this issue so that we can ultimately use reliable information to drive policy decisions,” he said.
In a statement, spokeswoman Nour Al-Hennedy said the city’s support is focused on providing supportive and affordable housing. As a liability, the city does not track deaths or assign causes of death.
“If Alberta Health Services or Alberta Health created a process for collecting this data and sharing it with the city, we would consider making it accessible in an open data system or other reporting dashboard,” she said. Told.
Alberta Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, the city council will debate whether to use $7.5 million from the Financial Stability Reserve to fund an additional 209 temporary shelter spaces for Jasper Place Wellness.
A total of 1,072 shelter spaces are currently available this winter, but according to Homeward Trust’s By Name List, 1,250 of the 2,650 people experiencing homelessness in the city are self-isolating if they sleep in a shelter or outdoors. recognizing.
This creates a gap in the available space and raises concerns that cooler temperatures will result in even more deaths.
Garnett said adding more shelter space was a good move, but said it would only be a bandage rather than an end to people dying homeless.
“We need to do it. I fully support it,” he said. “But don’t let anyone tell you that your multi-million dollar investment in shelter space is doing something for the homeless catastrophe.”
— Using files from Lauren Boothby
Three dead in Edmonton makeshift shelter in early November
Source link Three dead in Edmonton makeshift shelter in early November