I remember there being talk about data being collected on the number of homeless people during one of our Census talks. Is this type of information available somewhere? We have a Grad student looking for any information from 1995 onwards.
A description of the availability of data on homeless people from the 2006 Census follows. I will look into the availability of data on homeless people from the 2001 and 1996 Census and will follow up with more information as soon as possible.
"The 2006 Census did not conduct a specific count of homeless people as it is extremely difficult to count people who do not have a permanent address. Statistics Canada made all reasonable efforts to count the homeless population in the 2006 Census, however it is expected that some persons were missed and not counted (ex. - those who slept outdoors).
The 2006 Census enumerated people in shelters, an important component of the homeless population, but certainly not the entire population. Others may have been enumerated in a number of different places including with family and friends or in other types of collective dwellings (e.g., hotels, motels, YM/YWCAs, etc.). As such it is not possible to identify from the census these homeless people. As well, the census count of persons in places classified as shelters does not represent the total population of persons who slept in a shelter on the night of May 15-16. In some cases, persons temporarily residing in shelters would have been enumerated at their usual place of residence.
Prior to Census Day, Statistics Canada compiled lists of shelters across Canada, using contacts and lists from social service agencies, municipal, provincial and territorial authorities to make it easier to identify homeless shelters as distinct from other types of collective dwellings. On Census Day, a representative from Statistics Canada met with a contact person from each shelter to ensure that all persons staying at the shelter overnight on May 15 were counted. The eight questions on the short questionnaire were completed, where possible. For those who did not fill in the short questionnaire themselves, the contact person completed the questionnaire using administrative records.
A count of homeless people in Canada is not available from the 2006 Census. In preparation for the 2011 Census, efforts will continue to better identify and classify homeless people, including those who spend Census Day under bridges and on the street."
When I looked into this, our contacts sent us links to the following summary table (http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/famil62a-eng.htm) and topic-based tabulation (http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/english/census06/data/topics/RetrieveProductTable.cfm?ALEVEL=3&APATH=3&CATNO=97-554-XCB2006054&DETAIL=0&DIM=&DS=99&FL=0&FREE=0&GAL=&GC=99&GK=NA&GRP=0&IPS=97-554-XCB2006054&METH=0&ORDER=&PID=93192&PTYPE=88971&RL=0&S=1&ShowAll=&StartRow=&SUB=&Temporal=2006&Theme=69&VID=&VNAMEE=&VNAMEF=).
Researchers may also find it helpful look at the Census Dictionary definition for Collective Dwellings (http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/english/census06/reference/dictionary/dwe002.cfm - click on More information on Collective dwelling).
This follows the 2006 Census information in my previous message. For the 2001 Census, I located the following information in the dlilist archives (Fri, 9 Sep 2005):
"The Census, for the first time in 2001, attempted to get some population counts for persons without a fixed place of residence. The homeless proponent was investigated in the large urban centres of Canada.
There are some strict reservations about using the data collected. Only one report was created and it is available on the Census web site at the following address: http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/coll/contents.cfm
This cautionary note accompanies the data:
In view of the classification issues related to collective dwellings and the census concepts related to usual place of residence, care must be taken in interpreting the data on the census population enumerated in shelters. The census count of the population in shelters should not be interpreted as a count of the "homeless" since homeless persons may well have been enumerated in other types of collective dwellings e.g. hotels, motels, YM/YWCAs, etc. Furthermore, the census count of persons in places classified as shelters does not represent the total population of persons who slept in a shelter on Census Day, since in some cases persons temporarily residing in shelters would have been enumerated at their usual place of residence."
A PDF of the report is available at: http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/coll/pdf/96F0030XIE2001004.pdf
According to page 3 of the report, "For the 2001 Census a new category, “Shelters”, was added to the types of collective dwellings in order to potentially better identify the population in shelters. This category includes emergency or temporary accommodation for persons who may have no other usual place of residence, facilities for abused women/partners and their children, halfway houses and other shelters with some form of assistance. In previous censuses the shelter population was included as part of several broad categories of collectives. (...)"
A cautionary note regarding data on the population in shelters follows on the same page.
Table 2 (Population in shelters, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces, territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2001 Census—100% data*) of the report includes data for Toronto.