Mosaic mural along the stairwell at SRCHC

Community Engagement

South Riverdale Community

As part of the South Riverdale community, we value the support and feedback of our neighbours. We are committed to working together to deliver a range of essential healthcare and wellbeing services to our community. For more information, contact the Community Liaison Committee: [email protected]

Community Engagement

SRCHC Statement

February 15, 2024

In response to the Opinion Piece titled “Toronto Supervised Injection Site Linked To A Murder Is Hit With A Class-Action Lawsuit” in the National Post, written by Derek Finkle published on Feb 15, 2024. SRCHC has released the following statement:

Given this is a matter that would be before the courts, it is important for us not to comment. What we can say, however, is that South Riverdale Community Health Centre remains focused on both public health and public safety. We recently hosted three well-attended open houses to ensure local residents are well-informed about the many health services available at the Centre. We are continuing to work closely with our health and local partners to address the needs of our community.

Health Matters Newsletter January 2024

January 11, 2024

South Riverdale Community Health Centre’s (SRCHC) Health Matters newsletter allows clients and community to stay informed of the meaningful work being done at the Centre to increase equitable access to health care and improve the health and well-being of the community.

Health Matters highlights the collaborative efforts of SRCHC staff and partners across various programs and services, including family medicine, ongoing conditions, diabetes education, food security, mental health, substance use, and seniors well-being and recreation.

This month’s edition of Health Matters is focused on South Riverdale and highlights recent initiatives. SRCHC is inviting neighbours and businesses to three upcoming open houses at our 955 Queen St E location.

Health Matters Newsletter January 2024

 

Online form with community consultation meeting questions closing Jan. 17

Message from Unity Health Toronto (January 8, 2024)

For those who did not have the opportunity to participate in a community consultation meeting, we want to remind you that you can fill out the CTS review feedback form, which contains the same questions being asked in the community consultation meetings.

The CTS review feedback form will be closed on January 17, 2024 at 5 p.m.

The information we receive either through the consultation meetings or through the CTS review feedback form will all be considered as part of the review.

We are also inviting those who complete the CTS review feedback form to complete a demographic survey. We are using the demographic information to give us a snapshot of who is completing the form. We are not linking any individual demographic characteristics to responses. The demographic survey will also be closed on January 17, 2024 at 5 p.m.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback.

 

Message from Jill Campbell, Supervisor, 955 Queen St. E Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS)

December 20, 2023

Since starting my role as supervisor of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, CTS program, I have been meeting with many residents and groups from the community, community leaders and partner organizations, and staff and clients of SRCHC to listen to their concerns about security and safety and what improvements are needed.

While much has been done to improve safety around 955 Queen, including hiring security personnel, erecting fencing between SRCHC and Queen St. E. Presbyterian church, work with Toronto Police Services to improve security cameras, and lighting, and more frequent community needle sweeps by both security guards and staff of SRCHC, I will continue to listen for ways that further improvements can be made and better community building can occur.

In January 2024, the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) will resume, with new membership that includes more community and client voices and meetings that will be held once a month. The CLC will provide a forum to hear directly from community members and clients, about their safety issues and concerns, and will also be the place for making recommendations for improvement to SRCHC’s Board of Directors.

I can be reached at [email protected] for any further comments and feedback, or if  you wish to meet with me either in person, or virtually.

 

Online form with community consultation meeting questions is now live

Message from Unity Health Toronto (December 15, 2023)

We know that many people who are not participating in a community consultation meeting still want to have their voice heard. We also know that some people may not have had the opportunity to participate in a session. Unity Health has established different participation streams, which includes an online form where people can answer the same questions being asked in the community consultation meetings.
The CTS review feedback form is available here.
The information we receive either through the consultation meetings or through the CTS review feedback form will all be considered as part of the review.
We are also inviting those who complete the CTS review feedback form to complete a demographic survey. We are using the demographic information to give us a snapshot of who is completing the form. We are not linking any individual demographic characteristics to responses.
The demographic survey is available here.
Those who attended a community consultation meeting are also welcome to fill out the CTS review feedback form if they have additional thoughts they were not able to share within the meeting time frame.
You can also review the latest FAQs. We will continue to provide updates to the FAQ throughout the review as needed.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the CTS Review and Community Consultation Meetings

Message from Unity Health Toronto (updated on December 15, 2023)

Please see the attached FAQs addressing some of the common inquiries we’ve received about the review and the community consultation meetings. We will continue to provide updates to the FAQ throughout the review as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions – December 15, 2023

 

Update About the Community Engagement Process Being Used for the CTS Review

Message from Unity Health Toronto (December 4, 2023)

Unity Health Toronto has been asked by the Ministry of Health to complete a third-party review of the Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) located at 955 Queen Street East in Leslieville, operated by South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC).

This comprehensive review process has begun and our work includes looking at the operations of the CTS site and the suitability of its integration within a Community Health Centre.

Listening to communities is an important part of the review process and Unity Health has different engagement streams established, including hosting a series of community consultation sessions with people in the Leslieville community. Separate sessions are being held for five stakeholder groups: clients of SRCHC, clients of the CTS, local business owners/employees, local residents of the neighborhood, and local residents who have children. We are also interviewing administrators from schools and day care centres in the community.

On November 15, a registration link was shared on the community engagement section of the SRCHC website requesting people to sign up for a community consultation meeting as either a resident, family, business owner/employee of the neighbourhood.

To connect with local businesses, Unity Health sent the registration link to the Leslieville BIA to share among their members. To connect with schools and daycares, the hospital network has been contacting administrators directly.

The number of people who registered was greater than the number of spots available in the consultation groups. To give everyone the same chance of participating, we randomly selected consultation group participants, accepting one person per household.

We know that many people who are not participating in a focus group still want to have their voice heard and an online form will be shared in the coming weeks on the SRCHC website where people can answer the same questions that we are asking in the focus group sessions.

Since October 27, a number of people have also shared their insights and experiences regarding the CTS site by email at [email protected]. The review team will use the information that continues to be shared by email, in the consultation groups, the interviews with school and daycare administrators, previous consultations, articles in the media and on social media, and through the online form, as inputs into the review.

We look forward to completing this review process and submitting a report to the Ministry of Health in the early New Year.

For more information about the review process, please refer to the posts below.

 

South Riverdale Community Health Centre Response to National Post Article

December 1, 2023

Yesterday the National Post published an article containing statements and allegations by a self-identified former SRCHC employee related to the operation of the Centre and our harm reduction services.

Due to our obligations and interests in protecting employee and client confidentiality, safety and security, SRCHC is constrained in our ability to respond to this article. However, we feel compelled to respond to a number of comments or allegations in the article about our operations, which may otherwise be accepted as fact and recirculated.

Do we permit stolen goods to be purchased and sold on the property? No. Do we allow drug dealers to set up shop inside the Centre? Absolutely not. Do we allow managers and staff to use drugs and alcohol while they are at work? We do not. We do employ peers/workers with lived and living experience who are people who use drugs, an established best practice in harm reduction programs.

I see the remarkable work performed by our staff every day, in challenging conditions, with vulnerable clients who need us now more than ever. As Chief Executive of this organization I stand behind our employees and support their commitment.

Many residents and businesses in our area understand and appreciate what we do and recognize that we are working together to support the community, our staff and our clients.

In the coming months, we will have more to say about the extraordinary work our team is doing to save lives and reduce the harm of the drug poisoning epidemic. Please be assured that we remain committed to helping clients to get the care and support they need at the heart of this very compassionate community.

Jason Altenberg
CEO, South Riverdale Community Health Centre

 

South Riverdale Committee issues call to action on substance use services

November 17, 2023

Today the South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) released the final report of the multi-stakeholder Safer Community Committee (SCC), which launched in the aftermath of the July 7, 2023 shooting death of Karolina Huebner-Makurat near the SRCHC.

We want to thank neighbours for their continued feedback to the health centre, demonstrating their ongoing commitment to community safety and improving access to substance use and mental health services. Despite the challenging process, we want to thank the committee for their invaluable contributions and insights throughout the process.

The committee’s report is a call to action for the SRCHC to strengthen and in some cases expand the services we provide to our clients. It is also adamant that we deliver these services in ways that ensure safety and security for our clients, our staff and our community. While we understand that no recommendation conclusively carries the support of the majority of members of the committee and that the consultation process itself was a difficult one for members, we believe the insights and findings will be useful in determining how we continue to deliver critical health services to the people in East Toronto.

The report makes 27 recommendations to address substance use and mental health issues, crime and community impacts. Recommendations call for action by the Centre, municipal, provincial and federal health officials and governments, Toronto Police Services, and the local community.
The report makes it clear that the two priorities of delivering public health and achieving public safety are inseparable in the South Riverdale community. This report and process were completed prior to the appointment of a CTS site supervisor. We believe that this report is important to share with our partners and stakeholders. SRCHC’s board and leadership are committed to working with our partners to identify and implement next steps.

Finally, we are grateful to BGM Strategy group for their facilitation of the consultation process and for authoring this report and recommendations that will contribute to meaningful, attainable actions to address health issues and safety challenges in South Riverdale.

Emily Hill
Chair, SRCHC Board of Directors

SCC Report

 

Community engagement in the Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) third party review process

Message from Unity Health Toronto (November 15, 2023)

Unity Health will be hosting a series of community consultation sessions with different people in the Leslieville community. There will be separate sessions held with each group: clients of SRCHC, clients of the CTS, local business owners/employees and local residents of the neighbourhood. All participants will be compensated for ther time. Sessions may be held in person or via Zoom. Please use this link to register: https://forms.gle/NSy8F18e6c4ZSjsNA

Message from Unity Health Toronto (October 27, 2023)

Listening to communities will be an important part of the review process being conducted for the CTS site at 955 Queen Street East by Unity Health Toronto on behalf of the Ministry of Health.

Unity Health Toronto will share more information about how to be part of the community engagement in the coming weeks. We will post that information here.

While the review is underway, members of the community can share their insights and experiences regarding the CTS at 955 Queen Street East with Unity Health Toronto at [email protected]. The team will use this information as part of the review process. Community members will also be able to participate in other ways as the review progresses. Please do not expect personal replies to e-mails sent to this address.

Media inquiries about the third-party review can be directed to Unity Health Toronto at [email protected]

 

Provincial Review and Oversight of the Consumption and Treatment Services at 955 Queen St. E

October 16th, 2023

We welcome the ministry’s appointment of Jill Campbell, former Vice President of Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to provide executive oversight and operational supervision of the Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) site at 955 Queen Street East. Further, we are pleased to work in partnership with Unity Health in their comprehensive review of the CTS. We share a deep commitment to improving how we engage with the community and contribute to safety in the South Riverdale neighbourhood while continuing to deliver vital health services to local clients and will cooperate fully as this work unfolds.

 

Community Safety Frequently Asked Questions

October 12, 2023

The South Riverdale Community Health Centre exists to improve the lives of people in our communities facing barriers to well-being. We remain committed to working collaboratively to improve and maintain safety with our neighbouring community.

We plan to share a full report with recommendations on behalf of the Safer Community Committee in the coming weeks. These recommendations will inform the next steps for the Health Centre and for many of our partners including public health, police and all levels of government to work collaboratively together to achieve. As the SCC wraps up, we would encourage our neighbours to continue to reach out to the Health Centre via our Community Liaison Committee at [email protected].

October 30, 2023

We wanted to provide an update on steps the Centre has taken to help keep our community safe since the tragic shooting death near SRCHC in July. These actions include engaging a security service, making physical changes to our space based on the findings of a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design audit we conducted with Toronto Police Service, and extending our opening hours to provide more access to Consumption and Treatment Services and greater support to the community.

These are just a few examples of ways we have added to or updated our security protocols to better support public safety and respond to community concerns. We remain focused on working in partnership with residents, SafeTO, Toronto Police Services, and community organizations to strengthen local safety initiatives. We are committed to continuing to work together to deliver a range of essential healthcare and wellbeing services to our community.

Updated Community Safety FAQ

 

Public Progress Community Engagement Report

September 15, 2023

In July, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre engaged Public Progress, an independent firm with expertise in housing, homelessness and community outreach, to engage the local Leslieville community on issues related to community safety. We invite you to read the attached report, which summarizes the findings of the consultation.

This report has been shared with the Safer Community Committee and will be considered in their recommendations to the SRCHC regarding actions the Centre and other stakeholders could take to improve community safety.

Emily Hill
Interim Chair SRCHC Board of Directors

Community Engagement Report

 

Back to School FAQ

September 5, 2023

Through our community engagement processes, we have heard many questions. With back-to-school upon us, we are sharing responses to these questions with you.

SRCHC Back to School FAQ

 

Update regarding fatal shooting investigation

August 23, 2023

As you may be aware, the Toronto Police Service announced arrests related to the fatal shooting in our community on July 7, 2023.

We were distressed to learn that one of the individuals arrested was charged as an accessory after the fact to robbery and for obstruction of justice. This individual was placed on a leave for unrelated concerns on Wednesday, August 9, 2023. We continue to cooperate fully with the Toronto Police Service in this investigation and have no further details about this individual’s alleged involvement.

These allegations are deeply concerning to us and our community. They are also devastating and disappointing to the many SRCHC staff who work professionally and compassionately every day to deliver a range of essential health and wellbeing services to patients and clients in the area.

We remain focused on working in partnership with representation from residents, SafeTO, Toronto Police Services, and community organizations to strengthen local safety initiatives. We believe that we are making progress, including:

• Two meetings of the Safer Community Committee.
• Weekly meetings with local residents’ groups to identify safety challenges in Leslieville and generate recommendations to improve community safety in the neighbourhood that are meaningful and attainable.
• Contracting One Community Solutions security for the next year to increase safety and assist with crisis intervention around our location at 955 Queen St. E.

We welcome the announcement last week from the Ministry of Health of a critical incident review of consumption and treatment services sites in Ontario, beginning with the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. We will work closely with the Ministry. Our hope is that this initiative will help improve service delivery and support community safety.

 

Thank you to the local resident organizers of this week’s Town Hall Meeting

July 28, 2023

This week a Town Hall Meeting was held on Wednesday, June 26th at Jimmie Simpson. It was organized by local residents who chose the format and questions and invited the speakers. South Riverdale Community Health Centre wanted to take the opportunity to thank local resident organizers for the opportunity to attend and participate in the discussion. This is a first of many opportunities to listen and be a part of a dialogue to understand how we can all play a part in helping everyone to feel more safe. We are committed to working collaboratively as a part of the Safer Community Committee with residents, local businesses and community leaders to improve the health, safety and well-being of residents in the Leslieville neighbourhood. If you want to share your views and ideas about community safety, please contact our Safer Community Committee, by emailing [email protected].

SRCHC Fact Sheet

 

Working together to address community safety issues

July 25, 2023

Over the last several months we have all witnessed the increased volatility and behaviour issues in our community. We know these troubling shifts in behaviour are being felt across Toronto as we witness the effects of poverty and homelessness compounded by a deepening mental health crisis and an increasingly toxic drug supply. All this is happening while our justice system, housing and mental health services are overwhelmed by those in need.

We also know that everyone should feel safe in their neighbourhood and that no one should die on our streets.

Like you, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre is contending with the feelings of fear and loss that have gripped the community following the tragic death of Karolina “Caroline” Huebner-Makurat.

As a team of healthcare providers dedicated to community well-being, we are committed to finding solutions and working with our community and government partners to identify actions that will help address these complex and urgent challenges.

To that end, we are updating you on the measures that South Riverdale Community Health Centre has taken and are asking for your help by continuing to identify local community safety concerns and advocate for real action.

Actions taken by South Riverdale Community Health Centre:

  • Members of our medical staff were involved in the first response to the shooting on July 7th, administering emergency measures on the scene.
  • We have engaged One Community Solutions, an alternative security company that provides Community Safety Teams trained to support the homeless population and those with substance use addiction or mental health challenges, to provide an on-going presence outside of our building, bringing expertise in maintaining public safety in a way that is respectful and supportive of all community members.
  • We have met and will continue to meet with local groups that want to express their concerns or have ideas for supporting the health, safety and well-being of our community.
  • We established a Safer Community Committee co-chaired by SRCHC and including representatives of SafeTO, Toronto Police Services, the Leslieville BIA, Queen Street East Presbyterian Church, and local residents.

What we’re doing next:

  • Over the next two weeks, SRCHC representatives will knock on doors throughout our neighbourhood to gather community insights into local safety concerns. An online form will also be available on our website in the next 2 weeks.
  • Our Safer Community Committee will review and publicly report these findings, and issue recommendations concerning community safety improvements within 90 days. To contact our Safer Community Committee, please email [email protected].
  • We will continue to review and adapt our own facilities and procedures to maximize public safety and client wellbeing, including the installation of additional security cameras, and working with the Queen Street East Presbyterian Church to explore physical changes to the courtyard that could help improve community safety in the short and long term.

Grief counseling and related services are also being made available through the City of Toronto’s Community Crisis Response Team, who can be reached by contacting at Katherine Marhong at 437-331-2637 or [email protected].

Thank you for your commitment to this community and for your assistance as we work to improve public safety and continue to provide essential health services to our community.

Jason Altenberg
Chief Executive Officer (CEO),
South Riverdale Community Health Centre

 

Statement from the SRCHC Board

July 10, 2023

We are horrified and saddened by the violence and loss of life that took place at Queen St. East and Carlaw Ave. on Friday, July 7. We grieve alongside the community, as Board members of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, as community members, and as Torontonians. Our hearts go out to the family of the victim, as we mourn with our neighbours for our shared loss.

Our Community Health Centre has been part of the South Riverdale community for more than 45 years and serving people at this location for more than 25. We join others in being deeply troubled by this level of violence in our community. This terrible incident took place near our facility and has affected the whole community. To address those impacts and emerging needs, our team is committed to accelerating community safety activities, many of which were underway before this tragic event occurred.

We believe that a whole community response is necessary to improve safety, including neighbours, police, SafeTO, all levels of government, and local organizations. We recognize serious, violent crimes are issues that require action from all community partners.

As always, the health and wellbeing of the community is what matters to us the most.

Our commitments

• Continue our commitment to multi-service health delivery – Many people in Toronto rely on our team and its services. We hold responsibility to deliver these services as a beacon in a healthy and safe community. From essential health care and diabetes education to pregnancy and mental health programs to harm reduction services, we will continue to work with residents and partner organizations to deliver services in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of clients, staff and community.

• Engage a community safety team – In the immediate term, we are engaging a community safety team. This team will be positioned outside our facility at 955 Queen Street East from 6:00 am to midnight for the coming week. We have begun discussions with community members about the effectiveness of this approach and will continue to monitor and adapt this initiative.

• Establish a new Safe Community Committee – This committee’s purpose is to enhance and build on the work of Supervised Consumption Services Community Liaison Committee, which meets quarterly and includes community members, the BIA and other stakeholders. We are immediately striking a Board-led committee to work with the local police service, SafeTO representatives and other stakeholders – including local school leaders and residents. The committee will re-examine how our Consumption and Treatment Services intersect with police and other city divisions. The stakeholders on this committee will pursue all opportunities to strengthen coordination between these groups in the interest of public safety.

• Ensure meaningful community engagement – The Health Centre will continue to particpate in extensive and deep community discussions, town halls, and research over the summer to inform recommendations to the Safe Community Committee, management, and our community partners.

• Provide frequent news and updates – Our community-led Board will share regular updates about our progress with stakeholders and community members. We have a dedicated page on our website to share news and information www.srchc.ca/community-engagement.

If you would like to contact the Board, please email us at [email protected].