Coroner evaluating inquest request on cold-related homeless deaths in Toronto

From the CBC News article

Ontario’s chief coroner is investigating several cold-related deaths among Toronto’s homeless population and evaluating whether to hold an inquest on the issue.

An advocacy group has requested an inquest, Dr. Dirk Huyer said. At least two homeless people have died as a direct result of the cold in Toronto this winter, but advocates believe there are more.

“The inquest request is being evaluated by our regional supervising coroner,” Huyer said in an interview.

Health experts and advocates say there’s a lack of centralized data on homeless cold-related deaths and injuries, which they say makes it harder to push for changes to support those who live outside.

Those deaths and cold-related injuries don’t currently go into any central repository, said Dr. Stephen Hwang, a physician and researcher at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at the Unity Health Toronto hospital network.

There’s also currently no legislation that mandates systematic reporting of hypothermic injuries, unlike COVID-19 or tuberculosis cases, he said.

“I’m not sure if the problem of hypothermic injuries and deaths has got better or worse over the last year compared to previous years,” he said.

Hwang sought to get a better sense of hypothermic injuries and deaths in Toronto on his own several years ago. He had to comb through records of emergency departments and coroner records between 2005 and 2015.

He found 79 hypothermic injuries, such as severe frostbite, and 18 deaths in Toronto during that stretch.

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