Pan Northern Ontario Homeless Study Announced

Homeless in Downtown Fort William
Homeless in Thunder Bay means finding space. Often Shelter House is full.
Homeless in Thunder Bay means finding space. Often Shelter House is full.

TIMMINS – The Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA) have announced a partnership with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to determine the need for and feasibility of implementing the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) on a Pan Northern Ontario basis. HIFIS is software which assists Service providers, organizations and municipalities in data collection, analysis and reporting to help with their long-term planning and capacity building.

“HIFIS is a key component of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). The goal of HPS is to “prevent and reduce homelessness across Canada” and HIFIS provides the empirical evidence in support of that goal. At the local level, HIFIS supports communities with informed decision-making for their housing and homelessness planning, policy development, and service delivery. It will also assist the larger group of northern communities to address the issue of homeless migration, which has been identified as challenge that requires a Pan Northern Ontario approach.  Federal government support is very important in achieving these outcomes”, stated he Chair of NOSDA, Gary Scripnick, City of Timmins Councilor and Chair of the Cochrane District Social Service Administration Board (Cochrane DSSAB).

Shelter House
Rotary Shelter House on George Street in Thunder Bay

Fern Dominelli, CAO Lead for NOSDA added, “We expect to determine the feasibility and desirability of implementing HIFIS across the North.  NOSDA will be undertaking activities to produce a regional level report on homelessness by coordinating HIFIS data collection and analysis from the Northern Ontario communities that are presently using HIFIS.”

Leo DeLoyde, CAO of the Nipissing DSSAB and host of the technical aspects of the project stated “The HIFIS- using pilot communities in Northern Ontario are Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Nipissing. NOSDA will work closely with these communities as well as external advisors to better understand the size and characteristics of the homeless population living in emergency and transitional shelters from a pan-northern perspective.” 

NOSDA will also test the feasibility of HIFIS, in the seven District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs) not using the software. NOSDA will examine the costs and the benefits of collecting consistent, reliable and valid data in each community and across the northern service areas.

A variety of stakeholder groups will be consulted over the course of this Northern Ontario initiative with a value of approximately $90,000 of cash and in kind costs.

The Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA) is an incorporated body that brings together Northern Ontario’s 11 Municipal Service Managers.  All eleven are responsible for the local planning, coordination and delivery of a range of community health and social services that the Province of Ontario divested to them to locally manage. These services represent a significant portion of the social infrastructure of all Northern Ontario’s municipalities. 

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