The Health & Homeless Summits were convened collaboratively by the City of London, CMHA Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services, London Health Sciences Centre, London Police Service, Middlesex-London Health Unit, Middlesex-London Paramedic Service, and St. Joseph’s Healthcare London.
In all, more than 200 individual leaders from all backgrounds and areas of expertise, representing more than 70 local organizations, came together over three summits in November 2022, December 2022, and January 2023, with a pledge to do things differently. They came together across a range of sectors – from community health and social services, institutional healthcare, education, emergency services, business and economic development, land and housing development, City of London staff, and staff from other levels of government – and agreed to:
- Build on the great work already underway
- Recognize the things that are not working as well
- Collaborate and innovate on new cross-sector and multidisciplinary solutions
- Speak in one voice to the funders who have the ability to resource a system
- Response to this very real and dire crisis
- And most importantly to engage, listen to and co-design a system solution with those who have lived and living experience as a foundational element of this important work
The work and progress included:
The group confirmed their shared intention to work together and began to build new relationships, reviewed the health and homelessness data for our community, and learned about the local best practices and collaborative efforts that already exist and can be built on. Then, they set to work to identify all of the opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed with a new system solution and began to identify the core components of that potential system. In all, 20 priority needs and considerations were identified a cross four categories – Foundations and Governance; Service Delivery; System Resources; and Advocacy, Engagement & Communications.
The group forged ahead with new relationships and continued to collaborate to focus on defining the specific requirements for the service delivery and system foundations identified in the first session. They were integrated intake and coordinated outreach; low barrier 24/7 spaces; increasing health, wellness and treatment options; a continuum of supportive housing; workforce development; data collection and measurement; policies and procedures; and standards of care.
Over the course of the first two sessions, through many generative, cross-sector discussions and breakout sessions, the need for coordinated system transformation was readily identified. This cross-sectoral group also identified five critical foundations needed to ensure successful system operation, including:
- Workforce Development: Encompassing attraction, retention and engagement in a collaborative, shared strategy, including greater resources to hire, train and boost the wellbeing of frontline workers.
- System Governance: Defining the governance, leadership and accountability structure for the system
- Standards of Care: Establishing sector wide standards of care to improve consistency in approaches to outreach and intake, harm reduction, anti-racism and anti-oppression practices, low barrier spaces .
- Shared Systems, Processes & Supports: Developing common policies, procedures, tools, and training to support the system and the delivery of consistent, high-quality care, and to support businesses and community members with tools and supports; additionally including the review of policies, procedures and bylaws to support the whole of community response.
- Centralized Data & Measurement: Developing centralized data sources, impact measurements and new or enhanced assessment tools
The group dove deep into a review of the draft system model, which was based on the collective input of all participants across the first two summits. They then broke into facilitated peer groups with fellow subject matter experts in specific sectors, to provide feedback and ask questions about the model, including working groups for: frontline leaders, operational leaders, organizational leaders, land and housing development leaders, business and economic development organizations, and funders and community partners.
Leaders from across the Health & Homelessness movement have participated in advocacy days, meetings and briefings with individuals and groups at the provincial and federal government level including the Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Federal Minister of Health, Federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, Federal Minister of Housing Diversity and Inclusion, local MPs Fragiskatos and Kayabaga, Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Minister of Finance, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and MPP Rob Flack.
Advocacy work continues with the Ontario Big City Mayors, led by Mayor Josh Morgan. This has also been a topic of discussion at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.